For a song that has been commissioned to foster a sense of belonging and solidarity, there is nothing more polarising than the theme song of the annual National Day Parade (NDP). (The parade this year has been postponed to August 21.)
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good, goosebumps-inducing song, but when the year’s theme song is released just weeks before Singapore’s birthday on August 9, everyone and their mother have opinions.
Even so, there are songs that have struck an emotional chord and brought some to tears—a sure sign that we are all proud to call Singapore home.
The Dick Lee classic, Home, sung by Kit Chan at the 1998 NDP, remains a crowd favourite. Since then, a new song has been commissioned for every National Day (except for 2014 and not counting the remakes).
They have come to showcase not only homegrown musical talents, including Linying, Nathan Hartono, Charlie Lim and JJ Lin, but also filmmaking talents such as Royston Tan, who shot the official music video in 2019, and Wee Li Lin in 2018.
We take a look at this year’s NDP theme song, The Road Ahead, and re-jig our collective memory of the notable tunes from the past decade to put on your playlist this month.
1. The Road Ahead (2021) by Linying, Sezairi Sezali, Shye-Anne Brown and Shabir
Singapore continues to face uncertain times this year, and The Road Ahead, written and composed by singer-songwriter Linying and music producer Evan Low, calls on fellow Singaporeans to stay united and draw strength from our can-do spirit. The song’s refrain reminds us of how we can overcome the odds in the face of adversity (“Come whatever on the road ahead, we did it before, and we’ll do it again”), while its music video, which is a blend of live-action and animation directed by Huang Junxiang and Jerrold Chong, offers hope for the future.
Since its release in July, the song has inspired numerous covers, including a beautiful choreography piece by the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) company dancer Timothy Ng, who performed with Yeo Chan Yee, with musical arrangement and piano accompaniment by SDT’s company pianist Gabriel Hoe in the video.