10 Singapore pop hits get reworked by emerging and established artists

Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan (above); indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen and Umar Sirhan.
Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan (above); indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen and Umar Sirhan.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan; indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising (above from left) Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen and Umar Sirhan.
Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan; indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising (above from left) Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen and Umar Sirhan.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan; indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen (left) and Umar Sirhan (right).
Artists involved in the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay project include Joie Tan; indie rock-pop band The Betts, comprising Nicson Niam, Charles Wee, Jonathan Pereira and Pierre Yip; Dru Chen (left) and Umar Sirhan (right).PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Ten songs of yesteryear have been re-imagined by emerging and established artists in a new project

The 1980s classic Singapore song Roses, released by local pop-rock band Gingerbread, has a rousing feel with a pop orchestral arrangement.

But now, there is a new stripped- down version by local emerging musician Umar Sirhan, 19, and local established singer-songwriter and producer Dru Chen, 27, featuring voices accompanied by guitars and drums.

This new rendition of Roses is one of 10 Singapore classic hits re-imagined as part of Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay, which aims to bring back Singapore's greatest hits of yesteryear re-imagined by emerging and established artists.

The Great Singapore Replay project is presented by the National Arts Council (NAC) and investment company Temasek.

The project culminates in a final showcase concert next month. The media was given a preview of three of the 10 remade songs on Monday.

Umar explains the approach he and Chen took: "Dru and I listen to a lot of soul music, which tends to be really raw and gritty."

  • VIEW IT /POP-UP NOISE: THE GREAT SINGAPORE REPLAY SHOWCASE CONCERT

  • WHERE: Clarke Quay Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street

    WHEN: Sept 9, from 4pm

    ADMISSION: Free

Adds Chen: "We kept it less polished, almost like a demo. It is like a dish where we try not to add in the seasoning, so we can taste the natural juices of the ingredients.

"I actually love the original version. We just took the song in a different direction, which is more reflective of who Umar and I are as artists."

During the preview, local emerging singer-songwriter Joie Tan, 22, performed a new version of the 1994 song, Circling Square, by folk-rock band Humpback Oak.

Local indie rock-pop band The Betts also performed their interpretation of the 2002 song Siti, by local garage-punk band Force Vomit.

The Betts' guitarist and lead singer Jonathan Pereira, 25, says: "We made it more dance-y and fast-paced. In a way, it's more messy, but that is us."

Force Vomit's singer-guitarist and The Straits Times' music correspondent Eddino Abdul Hadi, 40, after hearing the new version, says: "I think they nailed it. It sounds like a different tune, but I think that's fine. I would have been disappointed if they decided to play it in the same style like the original - that would have been too easy."

In June, the public was invited to vote for the songs to be made over. About 16,000 votes were cast. Since then, 10 pairs of emerging and established musicians have been working on the songs with the most votes.

As part of this process, they have been rehearsing as well as vinyl-hunting and chilling out by the beach in search of fresh inspiration. These experiences have been documented in webisodes which can be viewed on the project's website.

Mr Kenneth Kwok, 42, the council's assistant chief executive, says: "For NAC, we have always believed in the importance of supporting the Singapore arts scene, especially our younger artists. This project is about providing an opportunity to showcase the amazing talent that we have in Singapore and remind us of the power of the arts and music to bring people together."

Mr Ng Boon Heong, 47, managing director for sustainability and community stewardship at Temasek, says: "Most people know Temasek as an investor, but we see ourselves also as a steward of our next generation.

"Having the opportunity to partner NAC on this project is consistent with this focus."

Get a preview of the songs. Go to http://str.sg/4KV2

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore hits get new life'. Print Edition | Subscribe