Monday 12 July 2021

Why is the singer not wearing a mask on the bus in the new NDP 2021 music video?

Dear Linying,

Congratulations on the positive response to your National Day Parade (NDP) 2021 theme song, The Road Ahead, you composed with producer Evan Low.

I am not going to report you for not wearing a mask on the bus in the music video as you were lip-syncing to the song even though all the other passengers were wearing a mask.

I understand that we would not be able to see you lip-syncing to the song if we could not see your lips if you were wearing a mask.

However, I am a little perturbed that you were quoted in The Straits Times report last week as saying: “I’m quite grateful because I was so prepared for the hate, but it turned out well.”

Why were you “prepared for the hate”?

What hate?

Don’t you know that our NDP songs are so universally beloved around the globe that at least one person in India has plagiarised Count On Me Singapore and claimed to have written it?

When that happened a few months ago, all Singaporeans stood up, stood up for the song as ours, proof that we have nothing but love for the NDP songs.

So I am not sure why you were expecting hate for yours.

Is it because every new NDP song since Dick Lee’s composition Home in the past 20 years or so has not been as well received such that it has practically become a national tradition to criticise every new NDP song and ask whether we really need yet another new NDP song?

One year, 2013, the NDP song, One Singapore, got so much hate that it was decided that, no, we did not need yet another new NDP song the next year.

At least it was not a song about fun packs sung to the tune of a Lady Gaga hit.

To be fair, that was not meant to be the National Day song that year, 2011. It was just a song about fun packs – meant to be sung on National Day.

Since your song does not mention fun packs or sound like Bad Romance, you are safe.

It also helps that you resisted using any Singlish in your song unlike the Ministry of Health, which lacked such self- restraint with the Phua Chu Kang Covid-19 music videos.

The chorus for The Road Ahead could have easily been “Come what may on the road ahead, just you wait and see, steady pom pi pi.”

But you said no. Why? Because you have standards. And an Ah Beng contractor in yellow boots is not singing it.

Maybe next year.

Also, great job not mentioning “Singapore” in a song about Singapore.

Otherwise, you would have to rhyme “Singapore” with “more”, “roar” or “a land to treasure right down to the core”, whatever that means. What “core”? Earth core? Apple core? Softcore?

One drawback is that without “Singapore”, you are making the song easier for people in India to copy without having to change the lyrics.

No, wait, “island” is mentioned several times in your song and India is not an island. Well played, madam. Well played.

But if videos start popping up on YouTube of Mumbai school children singing The Road Ahead with “nation” replacing “island”, that would just be reaffirmation that the song is good enough to steal.

It feels weird not mocking the new NDP song like Singaporeans usually do.

Is this the abnormal new normal?

The next time people ask me to put on a mask on the bus, I will just show them your video on my phone and start lip-syncing to it.

I will also tell them I used to be from the navy.

Steady pom pi pi.

- Published in The New Paper, 12 July 2021