Local musicians to breathe new life into Singapore's classic hits with remakes

Elizabeth Tong
Entertainment Reporter
The Great Singapore Replay (Photo: NoiseSingapore | Twitter)

Ten established “mentors” have paired with 10 up-and-coming musicians and will be performing remade versions of original Singapore songs at a showcase at Clarke Quay Central on 9 Sept. The move is part of The Great Singapore Replay (TGSR), a music initiative by Singapore’s National Arts Council and investment firm Temasek.

On Monday (14 Aug), Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore got a sneak peek at “reimagined covers” performed by singers Umar Sirhan and ‘mentor’ Dru Chen, Joie Tan, and four-member band The Betts. While the remade versions did not deviate from the styles and genres of the original songs too much, they were given a more modern sound and feel.

The Betts remade Force Vomit’s “Siti” with Joshua Tan (of The Fire Fight), while 22-year-old singer Joie Tan was chosen to cover Humpback Oak’s indie-acoustic number “Circling Square” alongside 53A’s Sara Wee, and 19-year-old Umar Sirhan remade Gingerbread’s “Roses” with singer-songwriter Dru Chen.

Umar Sirhan and Dru Chen (Photo: The Great Singapore Replay’s website)

Speaking about their covers, the Umar-Dru team and Joie said that they were very happy with their rendition of the originals and also hoped that their remakes would help to open the eyes (and ears) of people to more local bands.

“I think it’s important to celebrate our own culture through such songs, because this will serve as motivation and encouragement for future artistes to be creative and pursue music,” Dru, 27, said. “And if local music was so good in the 80s, it can only get better.”

Joie Tan also echoed his sentiments, saying that the initiative “will definitely open up the eyes of us here in Singapore to the amazing music that we have”.

Joie Tan and Sara Wee of 53A (Photo: The Great Singapore Replay’s website)

Joshua Tan, who helped The Betts with their remake, praised them for their “perfect” rendition.

“Rearranging and reimagining these song aren’t easy, especially for a popular one like ‘Siti’,” he said. “I think they held true to their style as a band and updated the song to what the audience would like.”

The Great Singapore Replay, according to National Arts Council’s assistant chief executive officer Kenneth Kwok, “is an opportunity for contemporary musicians to do reimagined cover versions of original songs from the 60s to the 2000s”.

“Not everyone may know these younger singers who do the covers, but they may know the older songs, so hopefully we can bring different generations and communities together through different eras of songs,” Kwok said.

The Betts and Joshua Tan of The Fire Fight (Photo: The Great Singapore Replay’s website)

For TGSR, NAC partnered with Singapore investment company Temasek, but this is not the first time that the group is investing in music. Temasek was recently revealed to have invested an undisclosed amount in popular streaming music app Soundcloud on 12 Aug.

Ng Boon Heong, managing director of Temasek’s sustainability and stewardship group, said,  “Many people know Temasek as an investor, but more importantly, we are a steward of our next generation. By partnering with NAC for The Great Singapore Replay, this gives us an opportunity to nurture the next generation of leaders for Singapore.”

Apart from these three songs, seven other pairs of musicians will be performing their covers at The Great Singapore Replay showcase concert on 9 Sept at Clarke Quay Central.

These are the 10 classic Singapore hits that will be remade:

  • Circling Square – Humpback Oak
  • Siti – Force Vomit
  • Roses – Gingerbread
  • The Mad Chinaman – Dick Lee
  • Kick! – Jane
  • Shanty – The Quests
  • The Girl From Katong – Serenaide
  • Come Home To Me – Shirley Nair & The Silver Strings
  • You’re The Boy – Shirley Nair & The Silver Strings
  • Driven – Concave Scream

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