Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Episode 687: Post-NDP Thoughts

So it was Singapore's 45th National Day yesterday, and like most Singaporeans who weren't lucky enough or couldn't be bothered to get tickets to see the parade live, I parked myself in front of the TV. (Apparently, international visitors to the NDP website could watch a live stream of the event, and the recording will stay up for a month.) The parade was the usual thing, although the star-shaped fireworks were an interesting touch this year. I honestly wonder how the organisers come up with the segments each year. I mean, they must feel like it's all been done before, right? What I wanted to blog about was the two National Day theme songs that were sung last night, 'Home' by Kit Chan and 'Song For Singapore' by Corrinne May, being respectively the first and most recent of the so-called 'modern' National Day songs. (There were four earlier ones from the 1980s, which are now perennial inclusions in one of the parade's early segments.) Now, if you know me, you'll know that I'm not one of those desperately patriotic people, so it shouldn't be surprising that I hate 'Home'. I think it's overtly manipulative, and I resent the song's attempt to tug at my heartstrings. (If you've ever heard it, you know what I mean. You can just hear the soaring string section sawing away for dear life, as Kit Chan's voice breaks into the chorus.)

'Home' is also apparently the best-loved theme song of Singaporeans, which speaks (sings?) volumes of the song's canny writing and instrumentation, as well as revealing how most Singaporeans probably do subscribe to its sentiments. I can't really explain any better what irks me about the song, but it may have something to do with the proprietary tone of its lyrics. 'This is home, truly / Where I know I must be', but somehow, it makes me feel like the sense of ownership is going the other way around, and that's frankly, more than a little discomfiting. I'm a lot more comfortable with the equally heartfelt sentiments of Corrinne May's 'Song For Singapore': 'I want to sing / Sing a song for Singapore / With every generation / There's more to be grateful for'. It's not sugar-free either, but it feels less nakedly manipulative to me, and that really matters to me. A lot. I have no problems with loving my country, but if I feel like I've been compelled into doing so, doesn't it defeat the whole point? Ah well. File these thoughts and feelings away for another year, until the next National Day comes around. I leave you with Sam Ho's hilarious pseudo-Freudian analysis of NDP. (Caveat: Do not click if you examine yourself and find no traces of a sense of humour.)

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