Remaking Singapore hits

The public will vote on the songs to be made over in collaborations between established acts and up-and-coming ones

Visitors at the jukebox-shaped voting booths at Raffles City Shopping Centre for the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay campaign.
Visitors at the jukebox-shaped voting booths at Raffles City Shopping Centre for the Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay campaign.ST PHOTO: DAVE LIM

Will musical sparks be ignited when Charlie Lim's moody neo-soul and singer-songwriter (Shak) Shak'thiya Subramaniamm's bluesy vibes come together?

As part of Pop-Up Noise: The Great Singapore Replay, 10 pairs of musicians - in which established home-grown acts are matched with up-and-coming ones - will collaborate on remaking classic Singapore hits.

But first, the public will get to decide on the songs to be made over in this campaign organised by the National Arts Council and investment company Temasek.

They can choose from 25 songs, spanning the 1960s to the 2000s, at jukebox-shaped voting booths that will be making their way around Singapore from now to June 18. They can also go to to vote.

Among the tracks are Serenaide's The Girl From Katong (2004), Sausalito by Western Union Band (1977) and Shanty by The Quests (1964).

Tim De Cotta, 31, musician and director of lifestyle and events company Getai Group, was involved in selecting the songs and the musicians involved.

  • Where to vote

  • The Great Singapore Replay jukebox locations (10am to 10pm unless otherwise stated):

    • Raffles City Shopping Centre, till Sunday

    • Asia Square, The Cube, Monday to Thursday (10am to 8pm)

    • JCube, June 9 to 11

    • Plaza Singapura, June 12 to 15

    •Tampines Mall, June 16 to 18

He says: "Narrowing it down to the 25 was difficult because there was so much good music to choose from, but we chose them based on lyrical content, musicality and the prominence of the songs at the time."

For instance, back in 1964, The Quests' song Shanty, composed by Henry Chua, was No. 1 on the charts, while The Beatles' I Should Have Known Better was No. 2.

The 10 most popular ones will be worked on by pairings including electronic acts Vandetta and .gif, singer-songwriters Dru Chen and Umar Sirhan, as well as rockers Spacedays and Force Vomit frontman and The Straits Times' music correspondent Eddino Abdul Hadi.

The musicians were paired based on how well their personalities and music styles matched up.

"It will be exciting to see how they develop and something interesting could come out of it," adds De Cotta.

Their music makeover process will also be chronicled in weekly episodes on the official website, with the first one going live on July 13.

There is also an open call for aspiring musicians to contribute their own interpretations, kicking off on July 10. While The Great Singapore Replay is limited to English songs, musicians can record a cover of any original Singapore song released between 1960 and 2000, be it in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil, and share it on YouTube.

The winner, decided by a panel of judges, will take home $500 and perform his cover version, alongside the other 10 collaborations, at a showcase at Clarke Quay Central on Sept 9.

The artists will perform both the re-imagined classics as well as their own songs at the showcase.

Singer Sara Wee, 31, from pop-rock group 53A, has been paired with fellow singer Joie Tan, 22, and she says that "the end goal has always been to get (our music) out to the greater audience".

"I've seen how the sound has progressed from the time of bands like Humpback Oak and Force Vomit. So I hope to bring an old-school feel to our collaboration," she adds.

Retiree Leong Choon Yin, 80, was one of the first to cast his vote at the jukebox booths at Raffles City yesterday. He selected Dick Lee's The Mad Chinaman (1989) and Don't Cry by Naked (1995).

He is all for the remakes, saying: "You have to keep up with the trends. They may improve on the original version and the old song could be popular again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'Remaking Singapore hits'. Subscribe