SINGAPORE: An alternative National Day Parade (NDP) composition titled My Little Red Dot has generated online plaudits since being posted as a Facebook video last week - racking up over 185,000 views as of Wed (Aug 2), along with dozens of comments praising the song as “better” than its official NDP 2017 counterpart.
But the three men behind My Little Red Dot - Peter Huang, Timothy Kua and Bryan Tan - insist their “passion project” was not meant as a response to Because It's Singapore, the NDP 2017 theme jointly produced by Jay Lim and Lee Wei Song.
“We just wanted to do something we could be proud of ourselves,” said Tan, 35. “The whole process took maybe a week before we put it up on Facebook.. And people seem to be responding."
“It’s been quite overwhelming," said Kua, 36. "The sentiments expressed in the song are so personal to us, yet the sheer amount of people that came to us saying how the song made them cry, gave them goosebumps, brought back old memories… these things alone make writing the song worthwhile."
Tan, who works in an investment bank, penned the song’s lyrics while tech firm marketing director Kua wrote its melody. The two provide vocals while Huang, the only full-time musician, plays piano and beatboxes on top of arranging duties.
The trio describe themselves as childhood friends who grew up together since primary school. In junior college they formed a vocal band, Skritch, but after National Service “life took over” and they all went their separate ways, said Kua.
“We found ourselves living or working or studying abroad at various points,” said Huang, the founder of vocal band MICappella. “But we remained close friends through the years, and always made a point to meet up and sing our old songs over a drink whenever we could.”
“As we moved into our mid-30s, we always joked about collaborating on something music-related at some stage, but we were all so busy with work and family life that it was difficult to find time.”
Added the 35-year-old: “One day, we were all chatting over drinks and the topic NDP came up.”
“We felt moved to compose our own song, one with a unique angle, something that could unite Singaporeans and capture the nostalgia of our childhood memories… It would be a tale of how Singapore would never leave your heart no matter where you went in the world.”
INSPIRED BY HOME
Tan acknowledged that My Little Red Dot was, at least lyrically, inspired by sleeper hit Home, sung by Kit Chan and composed by Dick Lee in 1998 as the first song commissioned for NDP.
“When I was writing the song, I was thinking which are the successful songs and how to make my lyrics resonate, and in that context Home was the example people held up as the most universally well-liked,” he explained.
“I thought what really makes Home resonate so much with people is the beautiful visual imagery conjured by the lyrics. So I wrote in imagery that every Singaporean could relate to: Playgrounds, heartlands, hawker centres, and so on.
“Obviously it’s also a song written from the perspective of someone who went away and realised the grass isn’t greener on other side... I myself was away for 11 years before coming back.”
Kua said the general aim was to make My Little Red Dot simple, singable and catchy.
And it appears to have achieved as much, going by online comments calling for the song to be considered for the next NDP and others labelling it an instant classic.
“The response has been humbling, but quite frankly there are no further plans. It was a one-off, on a whim,” said Tan. “I don’t know if we’re going to write one more next year, but music is always in our blood and we’ll always be involved in some way.”
Kua added: “It's been a wild week, a really emotionally charged journey for us... three childhood friends writing a love song to Singapore."
"We’re just three dudes who put out a song. It’s amazing how Singaporeans have taken our message to heart."
Watch the trio perform My Little Red Dot on Channel NewsAsia's Singapore Tonight, 10pm on National Day (Aug 9).