Monday 22 March 2021

I feel like a fool for believing Joey Mendoza didn't copy Count On Me, Singapore

Dear Mr Joey Mendoza,

The Internet, right?

Here you are, living your life and making YouTube videos of your jaunty performances of Row Your Boat and other ditties, and out of the blue, some foreign government asks you to “substantiate” your claim that you wrote some song in 1983.

We are aware that a song titled “We Can Achieve” that bears striking similarity in tune and lyrics to our national song...

Posted by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth - MCCY on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Who can substantiate anything they did almost 40 years ago?

The only thing I did then that I can substantiate is that I passed my O-level Chinese even though nobody can believe I did.

Fortunately, my O-level cert has not been destroyed in a flood, I mean, ponding.

Unlike all your evidence, which was supposedly lost in the 2005 Mumbai floods.

So you caved.

Mr Joey Mendoza had earlier claimed that he wrote “We Can Achieve”, a song that is practically identical to “Count on...

Posted by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth - MCCY on Saturday, March 20, 2021

What happened to the living proof that is the 250 orphans you taught the song to in 1983? Floods again?

I believed you.

I thought maybe it really was a coincidence that in 1986, some ad agency paid to write a song by the Singapore Government more than 3,000km away came up with almost exactly the same melody and lyrics as your song, We Can Achieve.

You know what they say, a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually bang out the complete works of Shakespeare and, apparently, also the words to Count On Me, Singapore.

I didn’t agree with my fellow Singaporeans who accused you of copying one of our beloved national songs composed by a Canadian working for an American company.

It’s like accusing Weird Al Yankovic of copying Michael Jackson.

All you needed were a funny moustache and a Hawaiian shirt, and people would have just thought you were doing a parody. You know, since you already have Weird Al’s hair.

As evidence of your plagiarism, it was highlighted that in the chorus of We Can Achieve, the line “Count on me, India” does not rhyme with “Count on me to give my best and more” whereas “Count on me, Singapore” does.

What nonsense.

I would point out that in the verse of both versions, “We’re going to build a better life for you and me” does not rhyme exactly with “We can achieve, we can achieve” either.

So the lack of rhyme is hardly proof of song theft.

Also, if you are going to steal one of our National Day songs, couldn’t you have stolen a better one, like the ever popular Home written by Dick Lee?

It’s like robbing an Apple store and taking an actual apple.

Or if you were more cunning, you could have cribbed from a National Day song that Singaporeans don’t remember, such as, um… I can’t remember any. But trust me, there are so many.

Let’s just say any National Day song that is not Home and does not have “Singapore” in the title.

Then people might not have noticed your plagiarism.

But Count On Me, Singapore is way too obvious.

I feel like such a fool now for believing you. You are not my sunshine.

Ironically, thanks to your version and the controversy it created, the status of the song has been elevated somewhat, at least, in my mind.

I have always thought that it’s a lame nationalistic jingle forced down Singaporeans’ throats by our Government, but now that I have learnt that people in your country are singing it too (albeit as a children’s song), maybe it’s not so wretched after all.

It's like someone tryinng to steal your ugly girlfriend and suddenly she's the most beautiful woman in the world.

As our Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth said, imitation is the best form of flattery.

That’s what you’ve achieved with We Can Achieve.

So at least something positive came out of your copyright infringement.

Hey, did you write Row Your Boat too?

- Published in The New Paper, 22 March 2021

Dear Mr Ong

I like the way you hammered J Mendoza in today's thenewpaper. Hope he get to read it.

It would have been forgivable, if he defended his action as doing a cover version, rather than claiming to be the originator. This is worse than the similarity between George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' "He's So Fine".

Lucky he did not touch our Majulah Singapore or else the composer's spirit would have haunted him.

This episode shows this little red dot cannot be bullied easily. But we are also forgivable, if one is willing to admit and apologise for wrongdoing towards us. Kudo to our MCCY for not pursuing the matter further thus maintaining the good relationship we have with India. It is moment like this that make me proud to be a true blue Singaporean.

With warmest regards