SG 50 7.30 PM

Biggest show of the year

More than 500 primary school pupils lighting up the stage in LED suits in the Onwards - Bright Future segment.
More than 500 primary school pupils lighting up the stage in LED suits in the Onwards - Bright Future segment.
Home-grown star JJ Lin performing this year's theme song Our Singapore, composed by Dick Lee, with 120 Primary 1 pupils.
Home-grown star JJ Lin performing this year's theme song Our Singapore, composed by Dick Lee, with 120 Primary 1 pupils.
Singer Kit Chan, 42, wrapping up the evening with her version of Home, which she first performed at the 1998 parade. She told reporters after the Aug 1 preview show that this year's parade would likely be her last.
Singer Kit Chan, 42, wrapping up the evening with her version of Home, which she first performed at the 1998 parade. She told reporters after the Aug 1 preview show that this year's parade would likely be her last.
Mandopop star Stefanie Sun performing a medley of two NDP songs, We Will Get There (2002) and One United People (2003).
Mandopop star Stefanie Sun performing a medley of two NDP songs, We Will Get There (2002) and One United People (2003).
Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrinne May performing her own composition, the 2010 NDP theme song, Song For Singapore
Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrinne May performing her own composition, the 2010 NDP theme song, Song For Singapore
Republic Polytechnic performers re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number with large p
Republic Polytechnic performers re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number with large props showcasing Singapore's unique identity and what Singaporeans love about Singapore, such as ice kachang and Changi Airport (above).
Republic Polytechnic performers (above)  re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number wit
Republic Polytechnic performers (above) re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number with large props showcasing Singapore's unique identity and what Singaporeans love about Singapore, such as ice kachang and Changi Airport.
Republic Polytechnic performers re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number with large p
Republic Polytechnic performers re-enacting key events from the early history of Singapore, such as its growth from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling British colony; performers from the People's Association putting up a dance number with large props showcasing Singapore's unique identity and what Singaporeans love about Singapore, such as ice kachang (above) and Changi Airport.

It's dedicated to the idea of Singaporean-ness and what makes us all Singaporean

Home-grown musician Clement Chow, the original singer of Count On Me, Singapore, never expected "in a million years" that the song would take on a life of its own. 

To Chow, the song, which was penned by Canadian copywriter Hugh Harrison in 1986, sounded more like a jingle."But it's not just a song now, it carries a national message. It's about how each of us can do our best and more, even if it sounds cheesy. It's about how we can do better with our families, and at work," said Chow, 54, who first performed the song in 1987.

At the NDP yesterday, people were up on their feet, singing ditties like Tamil folk song Munneru Valiba and stirring NDP tunes, such as this year's theme song, Our Singapore, by pop star JJ Lin.

Said Lin, 34: "It's not an easy song to sing as there are a lot of off beats. But the 'oh-oh-oh-oh' part is a point where everyone can sing along to. That's the most important part."

The parade's fifth chapter is also dedicated to Singaporean-ness, said NDP creative director Dick Lee. "It's about what makes us all Singaporean. We have Singlish, our unique language, tracks from TV themes and campaign songs... all these things that are idiosyncratic to us will make you smile," he said.

The parade's multimedia director, film-maker, Boo Junfeng, 31, said: "Whether in the way we speak or the way we've always grown up with public campaigns, I think it's great to be able to laugh at ourselves."

The Padang's performers were not the only stars of the hour.

About 600 performers from the People's Association PAssionArts Community Singing and Ukulele Network and the East Coast Choir belted out a medley of hits at the Floating Platform.

Local celebrities such as Ah Boys To Men actor Tosh Zhang, Mandopop singer Ferlyn Wong and hip-hop artist Shigga Shay also got the 25,000-strong crowd tapping along with their performances.

While they might not be part of the main Padang parade, they do not feel like they are a sideshow. Part-time customer service officer Siti Samiah Junid, 62, said with a smile: "At Padang, there are so many performances. But here, there's only us. That makes us a bit special. It's smaller here, so everybody looks at us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Biggest show of the year'. Print Edition | Subscribe