Last year’s National Day Parade theme song was (and remains) painfully bland — a yearly tradition, it seems. The National Day Parade in itself is designed to elicit an overwhelming sense of patriotism, no matter how corny or mawkish it may be, and the annual theme songs are the best representation of its schmaltzy potency.
Even before SG50, National Day songs have been widely spurned for being banal tunes that are as easily forgotten as they are easily disregarded. That’s why we’re happy to report that this year’s National Day Parade theme song is actually… good.
Granted, it’s a refurbished version of a classic, everlasting tune from 1987, but the modern update to “We Are Singapore” is very welcome — and one that feeds into our current era of nostalgia.
Local crooner Charlie Lim was tasked with remaking this year’s song, and boy did he deliver. With the help of fellow singer-songwriters in the local music scene, of course: the likes of Vanessa Fernandez, Aisyah Aziz, Shak’thiya Subramaniam, THELIONCITYBOY, and Joanna Dong lent their voices. The melancholic electro-R&B beats arranged and produced by Lim, Sydney Tan, and Evan Low help take the old classic to a level of sleek modern sophistication, too.
Ultimately, we’re just happy that there’s none of the usual cloying rah-rah spirit in the song.
According to The Straits Times, Lim spent a week watching YouTube videos of past National Day songs (we’re surprised he didn’t go insane) before deciding on a progressive take on “We Are Singapore”.
Note that the first verse of the song was updated in a reflection of today’s bittersweet sentiments. “No, nothing’s ever perfect, but I still call you mine.” Dayum, Charlie.
Also, props to the government for handing over the reins of NDP song composition to the next generation of local singer-songwriters who’ve long deserved their time in national spotlight. For the huge portion of Singaporeans that remain unfamiliar with the acclaimed musicians involved in this song, here’s a quick guide.
A neo-soul crooner known for his moody, melancholic tunes, Charlie Lim has long played the local and international circuit with or without his super-band The Mothership. Ever relentless in his craft, the man is currently preparing a follow up to his fantastic 2016 double EP, TIME/SPACE.
Fernandez is no stranger to the local entertainment industry. The multi-faceted R&B and soul singer has appeared in musicals, been a member of local hip-hop outfit Urban Xchange (and its evolution into Parking Lot Pimp) and audio-visual collective Syndicate, and released her own Pitchfork-approved tunes as Vandetta. On top of all that, she was a producer/presenter with 987fm and Lush 99.5FM.
Aisyah Aziz caused quite a ruckus in a superbly botched performance for Mediacorp’s 2018 countdown celebrations, but it seems like that fiasco was a one-off stumble because her voice in this NDP song is absolutely stunning. The singer-songwriter was also the biggest winner at regional Malay music awards show Anugerah Planet Muzik last year, so yeah, she’s proper accomplished. We’ll, uh, try to forget about that countdown show now.
Shak’thiya is the newest kid on the block compared to his fellow musicians involved in the song. The folksy singer-songwriter often plays at open-mic sessions around town, sometimes with his accompanying band The Baits (get it? Shak and The Baits?).
Rapper Kevin Lester aka THELIONCITYBOY is probably the face of hip-hop in Singapore (Shigga Shay trails behind) — the man left a cushy job to pursue a full-time music career. After leaving defunct band Sixx, doing stints in Los Angeles with Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.de.ap, and playing this year’s Laneway Festival, the most recent thing he’s been in is a song called “Bitch I’m on an Obike”. No, really.
Though the jazz singer has been in the local music circuit for quite some time, Singapore only noticed her last year after she impressed three out of four judges in Chinese singing competition Sing! China. ‘Bout time. She finished third in the finals, which is a proper feat.
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Evan Low is better known by his moniker Evanturetime, and the man is responsible for silky-smooth electro-pop hits with the local likes of The Sam Willows, Nathan Hartono, Inch Chua, and many more. He just released a slick album called folds earlier this year, by the way.