SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Parade theme song 'Our Singapore' is supposed to be a joyful song to celebrate the nation's 50th year of independence.
But singer-songwriter Dick Lee was so moved by the nation's outpouring of grief after Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 that he turned the upbeat version into an emotional ode to reflect the mood of the country then.
"The original version of the song was upbeat...it wasnt the right time (to release it), it would be inappropriate," said Mr Lee, who penned the song that will be sung by homegrown mando-pop star JJ Lin at the parade.
"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."
On Aug 9, Mr Lee's ballad version of 'Our Singapore' will be played during the video tribute to the late Mr Lee while JJ Lin will sing the upbeat version during the finale. JJ Lin's version was released online on Thursday .
Besides the new song, past NDP favourites will also appear in this year's show, which is themed Majulah Singapura - "Onward Singapore" - after the national anthem.
Spectators can sing along with homegrown singers Corrinne May, Kit Chan and Stefanie Sun, who will be at the Padang to reprise the classics like Home, Song for Singapore and We will Get There.
Mr Lee, who is behind the creative direction of this year's show, said it will be a "meaningful experience" for all.
Told over six chapters, the three-hour show will trace the progress of Singapore over the past 50 years and look to the future. The 3,500 show performers - NDP's largest-ever cast - aim to wow the crowds with dazzling costumes and large props like 8-metre high boats and Chinese junks.
The 26,000-strong live audience can catch the parade's happenings on a massive panoramic screen made by connecting high-definition LED panels together. It is the largest LED screen ever built for the Parade.
Show organisers have erected a 120m by 80m stage, the biggest NDP stage built at the Padang, as well as other mobile stages that can be raised for performances.
To augment the audiovisual experience, the organisers also installed 64 high-definition projectors and six sound towers.
But NDP show committee chairman Tan Cheng Kwee hopes the show segment will go beyond the dazzle and tug at people's heartstrings, turning the 26,000-seat Padang into a "cauldron of emotions".
He added: "There are so many things which Singaporeans can identify and are familiar with. We want show to be not just one that people will watch, but one that people can participate in."