Friday, July 25, 2008

Erasural Harmony

I've been working on a song to cheer the Singapore team on at the Beijing Olympics. Sigh. There is no way to reconcile my ideological beliefs about sports and human rights with what I'm doing for my career.

Anyway, I Youtubed a few past National Day songs for some inspiration. And guess what I found:

Exhibit A: "Reach Out For The Skies", a rather decent song performed in English as the theme song for NDP 2006 by Rui En (who acted in my second play ever in RJC) and the kohl-eyed, ever-so-fuckable Taufik Batisah.

Exhibit B: "Reach Out For The Skies", a rather decent song performed in Mandarin as the theme song for NDP 2006 by Rui En and...

OMFG. It's just Rui En. It sure sounds nice - somehow it doesn't lose anything by the subtraction of harmonics - but where once you had a Chinese girl and Malay boy showing how Singapore is all about celebrating your sexy multiculturalism, now you've got a Chinese girl, ALOOOONE, and she doesn't need any Malay boy to help her, so he can buang him by the roadside.

Seriously. Watch both videos. The same scenes in which Taufik and her were dancing side by side? They reappear, with just the girl alone.

Spooky. It's like Soviet photos.

One awful thing is, I realise the programmer coulddn't have had much of a choice about it. If s/he'd made Taufik sing in Mandarin, that'd have been cultural imperialism to the nth.

Of course, they *could have* made a Malay version of the song, and made Taufik sing that alone, or else forced Taufik and Rui En to both become trilingual. (Mei you na me nan ba? Tak susah, right brudder?)

But got budget right? And all the Malay people in Singapore also speak English also right? Sighhh.

Thus, in retrospect, last year's NDP song, "Will You" is full of happy, tokenist WIN. Eight singers, only two of whom are Chinese (and mostly selected for talent rather than for looking young and nubile):

But the videos for this year's song, "Shine For Singapore", are full of FAIL.

Besides the song being not very catchy, I take grave issues with the fact that the protagonists of each of the mini-threads - i.e. the lovers, the teacher, the girl with the shoes; the people the viewer's expected to identify with - are all Chinese.

Plus, both Hady Mirza and the young Chinese guy are both too bland to be thoroughly smokin' (if you lack spectacle, you must have aesthetics, I'm afraid), and the little autistic artist girl subplot is stolen from Japan.

Together, can we make a difference?


Ariel said...

hi there,

your blogs are full of content. a good read.

i have a blog called
where we list events related to malay/indonesian singing, dance & theater & culture.

If you have any info of any events related to malay culture, you can email me at


Anonymous said...

And where do you think the Japanese Ad copied from?

I always thought the Reach Upon the star video is a copycat of the bollywood MTVs - look at those hiphop dancers. And shimmering blinds was so cheapskate and outdated, it looks like in the 70s during the era of discotheques. Hehe It's only my opinion hor... :P peace!