NDP 2019 song, Our Singapore, unveiled: Which is your favourite theme song?

Screengrabs from the music videos for various NDP songs: (Clockwise from top left) We Will Get There (2002), Where I Belong (2001), In a Heartbeat (2011), Our Singapore (2019). PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM NDPEEPS/YOUTUBE, NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

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.

2019: Our Singapore

Directed by film-maker and multimedia director Royston Tan, the music video for this year's NDP theme song is perhaps the most crowded, with a massive inter-generational cast of almost 300 Singaporeans.

Aged from three to 93 years old, the ensemble symbolises the passing of the baton of nation-building from one generation to the next.

An assembly of 27 artists come together to sing Our Singapore, which mashes up past National Day tunes such as We Will Get There (2002) and Our Singapore (2015).

The stars involved include JJ Lin, Stefanie Sun, Rahimah Rahim, Tracy Huang, Taufik Batisah and The Sam Willows.

The song was composed by veteran singer-songwriter Dick Lee, who is creative director for NDP 2019 and was also behind hit NDP 1998 song Home.

2018: We are Singapore

2018's NDP theme song is a modern take on a 1987 classic. Home-grown 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.

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, There's No Place I'd Rather Be was one of the two theme music pieces for the 2007 National Day Parade.

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2006: My Island Home

Kaira Gong, the singer behind 2006's NDP song, said getting picked to sing it was an enormous surprise.

"I'm considered quite new so I didn't expect to be chosen. Usually it's the more established artists," she said.

But the lyrics of the song spoke volumes to her as, when she was chosen, she had just returned from Taiwan and had been homesick for Singapore.

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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)

Singer JJ Lin performed this version of the 1999 hit at the parade that year.

Before that, however, he visited his alma mater, St Andrew's Junior College, and gave an impromptu rendition of the song there to an adoring crowd.

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2003: One United People

The music video for 2003's song, sung by Stefanie Sun, featured performers breakdancing in cowboy outfits.

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2002: We Will Get There

We Will Get There was composed by Dick Lee and performed by Stefanie Sun, who would go on to sing the following year's song as well.

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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

Local singer Mavis Hee performed this song together with Jai Wahab.

Hee had performed on National Day three years prior, albeit in a smaller role - she sang her original composition, Colours, at the post-parade party.

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1999: Together

Artists Dreamz FM and Evelyn Tan sang this song, which was composed by Ken Lim.

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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

Though this song is one of the evergreen National Day hits, it did not feature any notable performers at the time. There would be no new National Day songs introduced until Home, eight years later.

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1987: We are Singapore

The lyrics of this song include quotes from a 1966 speech at the Victoria Theatre by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who said: "This is my country, this is my flag; this is my president, this is my future. I am going to protect it."

It also features the words of the Singapore pledge.

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1986: Count on Me, Singapore

This song was penned by Canadian Hugh Harrison, a former jazz pianist who worked for an advertising company. Harrison was also behind Stand Up for Singapore and We are Singapore.

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1984, 1985: Stand Up for Singapore

The first National Day Parade song, Stand Up for Singapore was commissioned as part of a larger campaign by an advertising agency to celebrate Singapore's 25 years of self-government.

Song sheets for the song were distributed to school children to help them learn the song before National Day in 1984, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra would perform the song at the National Stadium later that year.

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