The Life List

10 music videos for the circuit breaker

Local artists team up to fight the pandemic with songs that lift spirits and urge listeners to stay home

Screengrab from the video for Stay At Home, Singapore, a topical take on the National Day Parade song Count On Me, Singapore.
Screengrab from the video for Stay At Home, Singapore, a topical take on the National Day Parade song Count On Me, Singapore. PHOTOS: THE STRAITS TIMES/YOUTUBE, GOV.SG, SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA COMPANY, UFM100.3

Singapore musicians are helping to lift spirits, cheering on front-line workers and raising funds during the coronavirus pandemic the best way they know how: through song.

Whether it is with original material, new versions of National Day favourites or cheeky takes on classics, they are proving they can still be creative while staying in.

The Sunday Times lists 10 music videos by home-grown talent such as Clement Chow, Tanya Chua and Pravin Saivi that make it easier for Singaporeans to stay home.


Voices of Singapore

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This massive virtual choir project features 900 singers living in Singapore, together with Singaporeans in 26 countries around the world, singing the Dick Lee classic and National Day Parade (NDP) favourite, Home.

Presented by non-profit arts organisation Voices of Singapore and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, the line-up includes artists such as Jasmine Sokko, Nathan Hartono, Charlie Lim, Yung Raja and Fariz Jabba.

The choral arrangement was done by home-grown composer and conductor Darius Lim, who is also Voices of Singapore's founder and artistic director.


Clement Chow, Alemay Fernandez, Amni Musfirah and more

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More than 20 local artists and The Straits Times collaborate on a topical take on beloved NDP song Count On Me, Singapore, originally sung by local music veteran Clement Chow.

Re-titled Stay At Home, Singapore, the song is also a fund-raiser for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.

The donations will help families which have been affected by the outbreak.

The original version with 11 singers made its debut on April 11. A new video, featuring a bigger cast - including ChildAid singer Gisele Chiam, as well as sign language by deaf art and music practitioner Lily Goh - was launched last Friday.

Chow roped in a diverse cast that sang and wrote the lyrics, including artists such as Alemay Fernandez, Wayne Sandz, Lisa Haryono, Mathilda D'Silva, Michelle Poh, Jordin Tan, Izat, Syah Riszuan and Zoe Rowe.


Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap

This hilarious send-up of Stand Up For Singapore (1984) by theatre company How Drama stars the cast of its comedy show, Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap.

Recorded in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and other rooms of the performers' homes, the lyrics slyly include the famous "keep your droplets to yourself" line from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's address to the nation on April 3.


Annette Lee

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Singer-songwriter Annette Lee's single is dedicated to all the people stuck at home and those feeling anxious about the pandemic.

Lee, who is also a writer and director at local humour website SGAG, is set to release a new EP in August.


Pravin Saivi

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Singer, musician and composer Pravin Saivi has released a version of Uruthi Kondu (With Perseverance), a Tamil song originally written and sung by musician Mohamed Raffee during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak.

The lyrics by poet and writer KTM Iqbal include the uplifting lines: "With determination, we will conquer anything/With unity, we will progress."


Derrick Tham featuring Elizabeth Low, Tay Sia Yeun and more

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Singer, songwriter and producer Derrick Tham has roped in fellow artists Aly Koh, George Leong, Daniel Chai, Aaron Lim, Colin Yong, Dayn Ng, Marcus Lee and Thys Huang for the Mandarin song Smile Again. The title refers to how people's smiles are covered up when they wear face masks.

Tham, who has written songs for Taiwanese singers such as Rainie Yang, won the Young Composer prize at the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore awards in 2012.


Phua Chu Kang (Gurmit Singh)

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Comedy character Phua Chu Kang's Sar-vivor rap, as performed by actor Gurmit Singh, was a hit during the Sars outbreak. So it was no surprise the Singlish-spouting contractor was recruited to sing a rallying anthem for the new pandemic.

The catchy chorus goes: "Things different already/But Singapore be steady/Stay clean and healthy/Just use your brain, use your brain."

It pokes fun at hoarders and reminds Singaporeans to trust only reliable news sources.


Tanya Chua

Mandopop star Tanya Chua has remade her song Dark Cloud with a coronavirus-themed twist, with lyrics contributed by fans.

The timely tune includes the lines: "I wash my hands dutifully/ Wear my masks/Practise social distancing/Call for take-out delivery/Please leave them at the door/No one's allowed to come indoors/Virus please go away."


Jarrell Huang, JJ Neo, Desmond Tan, Felicia Chin and more

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A multi-racial cast of actors and singers - including Felicia Chin, Liwani Izzati and Sharon Shobana - star in The Light, a music video currently on heavy rotation on Mediacorp's television channels.

Written by Jarrell Huang, winner of singing reality competition SPop, and singer-actress JJ Neo, the lyrics encourage Singaporeans to band together and stay resilient to ride out the pandemic.


People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council and Kelana Purba

A collaboration between the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council and dikir barat (traditional choral singing) group Kelana Purba, the music video features home-grown Malay artists such as singer-songwriter Didicazli. The lyrics include reminders on precautionary measures such as the right way to wear face masks.

Make your own 'stay home' music video

Inspired by the "stay at home" and circuit breaker-themed music videos? Why not make your own?

Music veteran Clement Chow, the man behind the fund-raising music video for Stay At Home, Singapore, believes you do not have to be a music or video professional to come up with one.

All you need, says the original singer of the 1986 National Day classic on which the new tune is based, is a smartphone and a little creativity.

Here are his rules for making a music video at home.

1. Use the better camera

While it is easier to see yourself when you use your phone's front camera, Chow says your video will look much better if you use the camera at the back of your phone. "It's better quality, has higher resolution and offers more features within the camera app."

2. Keep your phone steady

Keeping the camera stable and the subject in focus are very important. If possible, fix the camera on a tripod, monopod or gimbal.

"Many phone cameras have built-in image stabilisation that helps keep your video steady, but you need to know its limitations," says Chow.

The image stabilisation will not help if the camera is shaking too much.

3. Film in landscape mode

It is tempting to shoot in portrait mode, such as for TikTok and Instagram story videos, as that is how people usually hold their phones.

But Chow says shooting in landscape makes for better videos.

"The simple first step to learning to make professional videos is to turn your phone on its side," he says.

"If you shoot vertical or portrait, what's going to happen is the moment you try to watch it on a TV, laptop, tablet or almost any other device, its ill-fitting orientation will probably jump out and reveal you to be an amateur."

Filming in landscape mode means you can fit more into the frame and will not need to pan left and right so much. "It will lead to a classier-looking product."

4. Good lighting

As a general rule, make sure the video's subject is illuminated by a bright source of light, ideally located behind the person filming the video.

"Dark or underexposed videos can bring on a number of bigger problems," says Chow.

5. Focus on the theme

Get creative and find a musical style that fits you. Keep in mind the keywords, "stay at home", and play around with them.

"It could be a rap that goes 'stay at home, Singapore' or 'don't go out, just close your door'," says Chow. "Or find different styles you enjoy creating or do something quirky and funny. That's how you make a fun, short home music video."

6. Edit the video

Simple video editing is easy to pick up and your smartphone probably already has a user-friendly video-editing app.

Says Chow: "On your iPhone, you have the iMovie app and there are so many other video-editing apps that are available to you. Just go try them out."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 19, 2020, with the headline 10 music videos for the circuit breaker. Subscribe