No new National Day song for this year's parade

NDP executive committee chairman Wong Yu Han says the classic songs complement this year's theme, Our People, Our Home.
NDP executive committee chairman Wong Yu Han says the classic songs complement this year's theme, Our People, Our Home.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Classics to be sung instead, after new tunes draw flak in recent years

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No one can find fault with the National Day song this year - for there will simply not be one, breaking a practice that goes back at least 16 years.

Songs such as the 1980s composition Stand Up For Singapore and the 1998 NDP song Home will be sung instead, said National Day Parade (NDP) organisers, who added they wanted familiar tunes that resonate with Singaporeans.

The executive committee chairman, Colonel Wong Yu Han, said the classic songs complement this year's theme, Our People, Our Home.

Besides celebrating the spirit of independence and caring in Singaporeans, his committee wanted a parade that is "deeply engaging".

"Those songs that we grow up singing together do mean a lot to us," he said.

Since 1998, when Home, composed by singer-songwriter Dick Lee, was performed by singer Kit Chan at the parade, new NDP songs have been introduced for every subsequent celebration.

But in recent years, most of the new tunes have drawn flak for one reason or another.

Last year's NDP song, One Singapore, was panned for sounding like a nursery rhyme, while the video for 2012 song Love At First Light was ridiculed for being out of touch with the average Singaporean.

At a press conference yesterday, Col Wong unveiled this year's logo - the crescent moon and five stars set in a red speech bubble, which represent Singapore and the voices of a nation.

Singapore's 49th birthday bash will be held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on Aug 9. It will feature the traditional pre-parade and parade ceremony segments, and a four-act show about everyday challenges and opportunities.

There is also more emphasis on participation this year, with a series of activities lined up.

These include a competition to pick 18 Primary 4 and 5 pupils to train with the Red Lions parachutists for a day, as well as a contest to appreciate and recognise acts of service from individuals.

The move to eschew a new National Day song for old favourites has already won applause.

Dick Lee, this year's NDP creative director, said there was no need to have so many new songs. "Why not bring old songs back on a more regular basis?"

Jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro, producer of NDP classics such as We Are Singapore, is happy with the move.

He said it was fine to have a new song every year in the early years, when the library of National Day songs was still small.

But he felt that perhaps the pace of generating new songs should be slowed down to every two to three years, or more.

"Then the song has a chance to stick in our collective memory so it pulls us together." The rise of social media has made it more likely for new songs to be panned, he noted, as it provides an outlet for an outpouring of criticism.

Ms Charlene Chan, 23, an associate producer, found the lack of a new song no big loss. "The songs haven't been very good for the past few years. I don't find the lyrics or melodies memorable."

roysim@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Lee Jian Xuan


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Some notable tunes - good and bad

  • Home (1998)

The ballad, sung by Kit Chan, was not written as a National Day theme song - singer-songwriter Dick Lee first composed it for Sing Singapore. Still, it has won the hearts of many: In an online poll last year, Straits Times readers picked it as their favourite National Day song.


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  • What Do You See (2009)

The rock tune What Do You See by local band Electrico had mixed reactions. Critics said it lacked broad appeal and failed to strike a chord with people.


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  • One Singapore (2013)

Last year's theme song was sung by a choir of 68 ordinary Singaporeans. Netizens slammed it for sounding like a children's song or a nursery rhyme; others questioned the need to have a new song every year.