Our National Day celebrations are well at hand. We’ve got a hashtag (#OneNationTogether, a hashtag that unfortunately has a rather sombre first post on Instagram). There’s a logo that is focused on the people and a song that was composed by Lee Wei Song and written and sung by Jay Lim. The heartwarming music video was directed by Adeline Ong. With that, we’re rating every Singapore NDP song since 2010, from one to five out of five flags.

2017 – Because It’s Singapore
It’s beautiful and inspiring, showing scenes like a baby crawling, elderly folk (strangely, only one man) exercising and laughing. No one can doubt the focus on inclusion. It’s like a United Colours of Benetton ad. Then the killer line: “Nothing in this world compares/It’s our Singaporean life” and “Nothing in this world compares/To this island where it’s home”. Ok I’m not trying to be un-patriotic here, but there are a FEW things I can think of that can compare. Not many, sure, but a few. Oh and we’ll throw in the winning sports events but let’s just forget about all the others that we didn’t do well in. (Strangely enough, Ms Yip Pin Xiu seems to be noticeably absent. Why?)

Patriotism: 5/5
Lyrics: 1/5
Composition: 3/5
Music Video: 2/5 (requires vivid imagination to see the Singapore they’ve portrayed. Plus, lots of free footage from Mediacorp) 

2016 – Tomorrow’s Here Today

Performed by 53A, with music and lyrics by Don Richmond, with an acoustic guitar. Nothing much could go wrong here. Richmond was able to perceive what some of the most successful National Day tunes have in common: a catchy tune, uplifting and inspiring ideals that aren’t nation-specific. He also deciphered what would actually earn the attention of youths these days: something funny and with no seeming agenda or propaganda behind it. it worked.

Patriotism: 3/5
Lyrics: 4/5
Composition: 4/5
Music video: 3/5 (entertaining, but actual stop motion would have been more interesting than just random things you might find in Singapore)

2015 – Our Singapore

It was a tough year. Mr Lee Kwan Yew had just passed away, the nation was in mourning, and it was our bicentennial. We needed to drive ourselves forward with some optimism and Dick Lee composed and wrote a song that fit that mood. Not sure if JJ Lin was the ideal choice for the song although it certainly suited his energy and style. I’d argue with some of the lyrics chosen but I can see the need for them. Good chorus though.

Patriotism: 5/5
Lyrics: 3/5
Composition: 3/5
Music video: 3/5 (JJ, didn’t anyone tell you it’s dangerous to walk on the road while snapping selfies or wefies?)

2014 – What Do You See

This was the year of cool dudes. Singapore wanted to be hip and Instagrammable, so it went for the rock stars: Jack and Rai, Fauzie, Kartik, Shaun. Dave Tan wrote the song and Alan Cai, who clearly loves the Singapore Airlines flight attendant, directed the music video. It was a pretty decent song, and the entire music video kept to the theme of ‘seeing how things have changed’. The chorus, however…

Patriotism: 3/5
Lyrics: 4/5
Composition: 3/5
Music video: 3/5 (bit too literal for our liking)

2013 – One Singapore

No words. And the music video was done by a friend. Still, no words.

Patriotism: 1/5
Lyrics: 1/5
Composition: 1/5
Music video: 1/5 (unfortunately, it sticks in your mind forever)

2012 – Love at First Light

Paul Tan’s lyrics are brilliant and Iskandar Ismail is one of the great composers of our time who, with Dick Lee, created some of the greatest songs that emerged from our shores. I remember him best for his work on Chang & Eng, and that’s probably why there’s an instinctive musical-like style to his songs. This is strictly biased, but while the song itself was fine, the style of a musical tune doesn’t quite work as a national theme song. Or does it? Are we all secret musical lovers? 

Patriotism: 3/5
Lyrics: 2/5
Composition: 3/5
Music video: 3/5 (I wish they had gone all anthemic Les Mis on this) 

2011 – In a Heartbeat

You can instantly tell a poet is at work in this song. Plenty of alliteration and rhyme. While the song might be a little forced in certain aspects, Haresh Sharma does what he does best: building up a perspective from a specific point, in this case, a couple and a family. I can’t say I love it, but it isn’t bad either. It’s heartwarming, charming enough to entertain the country. Does what it needs to do. 

Patriotism: 3/5
Lyrics: 4/5
Composition: 4/5
Music video: 3/5 (the video is just… meh)

2010 – Song for Singapore

Corrinne May was given carte blanche to do what she wanted and she did. She sang about what she liked about the country, called it what it was: a song for Singapore. It worked. There was no forced attempt to try to include anything and everything into the song. Much like the 2011 and 2016 tunes. And of course, the classic Kit Chan 1998 Home (incidentally, written by Dick Lee), still considered one of the best National Day songs of all time. Perhaps that’s the way such tunes ought to be commissioned, without an attempt to add any sort of ‘return of investment’ to the nation.

Patriotism: 4/5
Lyrics: 4/5
Composition: 4/5
Music video: 4/5 (Ok, Corrine’s inclusion of the IPPT test kinda irritated me a little)

And here’s the all time winner. Five all across the board. 

written by.

Subscribe to the magazine

Subscribe Now
Never miss an update

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

No Thanks
You’re all set

Thank you for your subscription.