Best Singapore songs in one concert

The organising committee of the Sing50 concert planned for August 7, 2015 at the National Stadium. The co-chairmen are The Business Times editor Alvin Tay (third row from the top, nearest camera) and The Straits Times deputy editor Alan John (in blue
The organising committee of the Sing50 concert planned for August 7, 2015 at the National Stadium. The co-chairmen are The Business Times editor Alvin Tay (third row from the top, nearest camera) and The Straits Times deputy editor Alan John (in blue shirt, next to Mr Tay). -- ST PHOTO: KTSING

Singapore's most iconic songs will come to the fore in a mega concert at the National Stadium on Aug 7, 2015.

Sing50 commemorates the country’s 50th anniversary and will feature local artists performing 50 songs in various genres and the four official languages.

While the songs and artists have not been finalised, tunes picked for the night’s programme must have been popular or had an impact here between the 1960s and the present.

Eddino Abdul Hadi and Boon Chan throw up some songs for consideration:

ENGLISH

1. Shanty (1964) by The Quests

The Quests were one of the top bands in the local 1960s rock scene. Their original instrumental, Shanty, went down in history as the first song by a local band to top the Singapore charts. It is also the only Singapore song to ever displace The Beatles, whose song I Should Have Known Better, was at No. 1 here before Shanty took over.

2. Within You'll Remain (1985)

While the song was originally composed and recorded in 1983 by Hong Kong band Chyna,  Singapore band Tokyo Square, which featured singers Max Surin and his sister Linda Elizabeth, made their version popular both here and in the region. 

3. We Are Singapore (1987)

The national songs made popular during the National Day celebrations in the 1980s remain enduring favourites, and We Are Singapore, with words and lyrics by Canadian composer-producer Hugh Harrison and orchestration by local jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro, is one of the top ones.

4. So Happy (1991) by The Oddfellows

The local alternative and indie music scene rose from the underground and rejuvenated the local music scene in the early 1990s. The Oddfellows’ So Happy  topped the radio charts of the time and was an anthem from that era. 

5. Home (1998) by Dick Lee

The fact that this Dick Lee-composed song has been covered many times is a testament to its reach and staying power. The original version by Kit Chan made its debut in 1998 and the song remains a firm favourite at the National Day Parade every year.

CHINESE

1. Xi Shui Chang Liu (Friendship Forever, 1987) by Liang Wern Fook

This quintessential anthem about friendship and growing up topped a 2003 poll by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore to find the top 10 xinyao songs.

2. Kopi-O (1986) by Eric Moo

There should definitely be a food-themed track for food-mad Singapore, and fans have been drinking up Kopi-O since the rousing track was used for the popular series The Coffee Shop (1985-1986).

3. Cloudy Day (2000) by Peter Lee Shih Shiong

Stefanie Sun's hit ballad has a clever sampling of a well-known ditty - “tee or or, bey lor hor” (Hokkien for "The sky is dark, it is going to rain soon”) - meant that everyone and their grandmother could easily relate to the song.

4. Qian Yin (Leading Along, 1981) by Maggie Teng

The ballad helped Maggie Teng break into the competitive Taiwan market in 1981 and was reportedly chosen as No. 1 among its top 10 songs for 1982.

5. Darwin (2007) by Tanya Chua

She is Singapore’s most critically acclaimed singer, with three prestigious Golden Melody Awards for Best Mandarin Female Singer, including for Goodbye & Hello (2007), which contains the evolution-themed Darwin.

MALAY

1. Semoga Bahagia (1961)

This song by Majulah Singapura composer Zubir Said is a Children’s Day staple for various generations of Singaporeans from all races and cultural backgrounds.

2. Sayang Disayang (1969) by Zubir Said

One of keroncong queen Kartina Dahari’s best loved songs was also by Zubir, and arranged  by top Malay composer Kassim Masdor. 

3. Kamelia (1980) by Sweet Charity

Fronted by veteran singer-songwriter Ramli Sarip, Sweet Charity are one of the most influential Malay rock bands here and in Malaysia. Their version of Indonesian singer  Ebiet G. Ade’s Kamelia remains one of their best known tunes.

4. Dhikir Fikir Fikir (1993) by Rausyanfikir

Folk-rock trio Rausyanfikir, comprising of Art Fazil, Mohd Khair Mohd Yasin and the late Esham Jamil paired poetry with singalong tunes and in this song tackled the issue of the modern Malay identity.

5. Usah Lepaskan (2006) by Taufik Batisah

The first Singapore Idol winner’s self-composed melancholic ballad was a massive hit on local Malay radio, won multiple awards and remains one of his signature tunes.

TAMIL

Munnaeru Vaalibaa (1966) by S. Jesudassan

This catchy song by the retired teacher, now, 84, has been a staple at National Day Parades through the decades. When he was a teacher at Raffles Institution in 1966, he was asked by the principal to pen a song that would inspire students to succeed in newly-independent Singapore. The title, which means Move Forward, Youth, says it all.

Which other songs do you think should be sung at the Sing50 concert?