2018's NDP song: We Are Singapore part of a long tradition

Local singer Charlie Lim spent a week watching YouTube videos of old NDP songs to figure out what worked for a modern take on the 1987 classic We Are Singapore.PHOTO: MINDEF PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

This story was first published on June 20, 2016, and updated on May 22, 2018.

SINGAPORE - You either love it or hate it. National Day Parade (NDP) theme songs often draw strong reactions - and robust debate in some cases.

Here's a look back at NDP songs through the years.

2018: We are Singapore

2018's NDP theme song is a modern take on a 1987 classic. Homegrown singer Charlie Lim rewrote the verses of the NDP favourite, We are Singapore, to include lyrics like "the future is uncertain and everything must change".

Mr Lim, 29, said: "They wanted to refresh the song which was written in 1987 and was very relevant in its time, but I think now we want to look at things from a younger generation's perspective."

To come up with the song, Mr Lim spent a week watching YouTube videos of old NDP songs to figure out what worked.

"It was kind of scary to take on something that everyone knows and sings," he said. "I recorded a demo in my bedroom and we actually used that. In fact, the vocals you hear on the actual track are actually from the original demo. We actually tried recording it in the studio, but decided that it had a better performance and came from a more heartfelt place."

2017: Because It's Singapore!

Inspired by the everyday lives of Singaporeans living together in harmony, 2017's song, titled Because It's Singapore!, is a rousing ballad composed by veteran Lee Wei Song.

Local musician Jay Lim wrote the lyrics and lent his voice to the first public performance of the song on Wednesday (May 17).

One line in the song that touches him the most is the chorus that goes "Nothing in this world compares to our Singaporean Life", said Lim at a media conference to release the song.

Both of them worked to make the song profoundly emotional, yet easily sung.

The song has received over 7,000 views on The Straits Times' Facebook page, but some commenters have criticised the song for not being exuberant enough and derivative of earlier songs.

2016: Tomorrow's Here Today

The upbeat pop anthem aimed to rally Singaporeans to ponder about the country's future, in tune with that year's futuristic theme of Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow.

It was written by composer Don Richmond, 39, and performed by local band 53A.

It appears to have hit the right note with those who responded to a Straits Times online poll. Of the 240 responses garnered as of June 20, 68 per cent said they like it, with some singing praises about its fun, indie vibe. But some say it lacks a connection with older Singaporeans due to its pop background.

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2015: Our Singapore

Composed by singer-songwriter Dick Lee, the theme song was one that looked into the future as the nation celebrated its 50th birthday, and at the same time paid tribute to its pioneers and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

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2014: No NDP song

Breaking with NDP tradition, there was no theme song because the organisers wanted familiar tunes that resonate with Singaporeans, and decided that the classic NDP songs complemented that year's theme, Our People, Our Home.

2013: One Singapore

The 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.

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2012: Love At First Light

Written by Paul Tan and composed by the late Iskandar Ismail, the song was performed by Singaporean artiste Olivia Ong and child actress, Natanya Tan.

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2011: In A Heartbeat

Performed by Singaporean artiste Sylvia Ratonel, the first female finalist in the history of reality singing TV show Singapore Idol.

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2010: Song For Singapore

The theme song was composed and sung by US-based Singaporean singer Corrinne May.

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2009: What Do You See?

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

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2008: Shine For Singapore

The English version was performed by Hady Mirza, the winner of the second season of Singapore Idol. Pop singer Joi Chua sang the Mandarin version.

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2007: There's No Place I'd Rather Be and Will You

Sung by Kit Chan, the song was one of the two theme music pieces to the 2007 National Day Parade.

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2006: My Island Home

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2005: Reach Out For The Skies

The catchy song was performed by Taufik Batisah, winner of the first season of Singapore Idol, and actress Rui En.

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2004: Home (Remix)

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2003: One United People

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2002: We Will Get There

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2001: Where I Belong

The rocky tune and smooth melody was released as an EP in 2001 by Singaporean singer and songwriter, Tanya Chua.

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2000: Shine On Me

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1999: Together

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1998: Home

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 in 2013, The Straits Times readers picked it as their favourite National Day song.

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1990: One People, One Nation, One Singapore

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1987: We are Singapore

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1986: Count on Me, Singapore

1984, 1985: Stand Up for Singapore

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