Tomorrow's Here Today: NDP theme song and video look at Singapore's tomorrow

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This year's NDP theme song - Tomorrow's Here Today - is performed by local band 53A.
Behind the scenes filming of the music video for the NDP 2016 theme song, Tomorrow's Here Today, in May 2016. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Parade theme song and its accompanying music video will both carry forward-looking elements, in tune with the occasion's futuristic theme of Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow.

When coming up with the song's music and lyrics , composer Don Richmond, 39, said he had one burning question in mind after Singapore's Golden Jubilee: "What would the first song be to start off the next 50 years?"

The result was Tomorrow's Here Today - an upbeat pop anthem rallying Singaporeans to ponder about the country's future.

It is performed by local band 53A - a familiar fixture at nightspots such as Hive by Wala Wala and Timbre Substation.

In the first verse, lead singer Sara Wee calls on the nation to act on its dreams, crooning: "Take a leap and you will fly/With all the wishes that you own/Make your dreams light up the sky/Home is where you're not alone".

Mr Richmond described the tune, which took a month and a half to complete, as one that is filled with "youthful energy" and "something that people can tap their feet to".

Mr Don Richmond wrote this year's National Day theme song. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

As with most of his songs, inspiration came in the shower.

"When I was shampooing my hair...I was thinking to myself, what would really be the best title for it?" Mr Richmond recalled.

"And then the first thing that came to my mind, I was humming, 'Tomorrow's here today, tomorrow's here today'. I went, 'You know what, that could be a great title for a song'. And then I worked backwards from there."

"If you're going to build the future, it has t ostart today. You can't wait till tomorrow."

His favourite line from the song? The part of the chorus that goes: "Dream away/Take the world by the hand".

"The whole idea of taking the world by the hand is really leading...So we're not just following the trend, we're not just going with the flow. We're taking charge and taking the lead."

Writing this year's NDP song came with less pressure than what singer-songwriter Dick Lee probably had to deal with for last year's Golden Jubilee, said Mr Richmond.

But he said he is ready to face any flak that is often thrown at new NDP songs.

"I'm here. I'm ready to be judged. I honestly feel the worst thing that you can do is try to think that you have to please everyone," said Mr Richmond.

Coming up with a video to capture the song's aspirational mood was no simple task either, involving more than 400 people over a period of four months, said NDP film producer Huang Junxiang, 27.

In the film, young dancers frolick in front of old shophouses and food stalls, and colourful lanterns mirror the eclectic ethnic costumes moving beneath them.

The video itself tapped on advanced technlogy, including the use of green screens and a one-shot approach. The video was shot to look like it was filmed with just one continuous take, very much like Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's film Birdman and Canadian singer Feist's '1234' music video.

While most of the footage was shot against green screens in a studio at Big Box mall in Jurong East over two days last month, post-production work took much longer.

"We wanted to go with something technically advanced because this year's (NDP) theme is Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow," said Mr Huang.

One advantage of using a green screen instead of shooting outdoors was the ability for the video producers to "cram in as many icons of Singapore as possible", from old shophouses to the Esplanade.

"We wanted to create a tapestry that surrounds the performers, which emphasises the unity that we possess as Singapore," Mr Huang explained.

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Shane Lim, 36, chairman of this year's NDP multimedia committee, said the music video's one-take approach creates an immersive environment for the audience, allowing them to "feel as if they are part of it".

"It's bold, there's a lot of innovation, a lot of coordination involved, and this really captures the essential elements that are necessary in building our Singapore of tomorrow," said LTC Lim.

Full-time national serviceman Tan Fu Yu, one of the actors in the video, said he enjoyed working with the other performers, partly because it was a multi-racial ensemble.

"Multi-racialism is one of the bedrocks of our existence," said third sergeant (3SG) Tan, 19. "When we come together, it means a lot to me."

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