An emotional ode and a celebration of Our Singapore

JJ Lin (above) will sing Our Singapore at the NDP show, which will trace the nation's progress and look to the future.
JJ Lin (above) will sing Our Singapore at the NDP show, which will trace the nation's progress and look to the future.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Both versions of theme song to be part of NDP, which promises to turn Padang into 'cauldron of emotions'

This year's National Day Parade theme song, Our Singapore, was written as a joyful celebration of the nation's 50th year of independence.

But singer-songwriter Dick Lee was so moved by the outpouring of grief after Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 that he turned the upbeat song into an emotional ode to reflect the mood of the country.

"The original version of the song was upbeat... it wasn't the right time (to release it), it would be inappropriate," said Mr Lee.

"But when I sang the slow version to myself, I felt that, oh my goodness, it kind of resonates, it works, and so I just recorded it on my phone and sent it to chairman (of the NDP show committee) and everybody reacted to it."

Mr Lee's soulful rendition of the song was released in May and has been praised by most for the heartfelt lyrics and catchy chorus.

On Aug 9, it will be played during a video tribute to the late Mr Lee, while home-grown pop star JJ Lin will perform the upbeat version towards the end of the show. That version was released online yesterday.

Besides the new song, past NDP favourites will feature in this year's show, which is themed Majulah Singapura.

Spectators will want to sing along with artists Corrinne May, Kit Chan and Stefanie Sun, who will be at the Padang to reprise classics like Home, Song For Singapore and We Will Get There.

Mr Lee, the creative director of this year's show, said it would be a "meaningful experience" for all.

Told over six chapters, the three-hour show will trace the progress of Singapore and look to the future. The nearly 3,500 show performers - NDP's largest cast - will wow the crowds with dazzling costumes and large props like 8m-high boats and Chinese junks.

There will also be larger-than-life floats representing Singapore's food (durian, ice kacang and chilli crab), icons (Changi Airport, HDB) and quirks and colloquialisms (tissue paper used to reserve seats and blur sotong).

But the chairman of the NDP show committee, Colonel Tan Cheng Kwee, hopes the show segment will go beyond the razzle-dazzle and tug at people's heartstrings, saying that it will turn the 26,000-seat Padang into a "cauldron of emotions".

"There are so many things which Singaporeans can identify and are familiar with. We want the show to be not just one that people will watch, but one that people can participate in," said Col Tan.

Sneak preview of NDP show segment

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'An emotional ode and a celebration of Our Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe