Blink – we have passed the midpoint of 2019 and are well on the way to 2020. So much has entered the bloodstream of Made In Singapore music and to celebrate the quality of the output, we’ll be rolling out weekly lists of the best music videos, singles, EPs and albums that have entered the canon between January and now.
This week, the Hear65 team honours its 15 favourite singles in Singaporean music of the year, so far.
Louie Indigo – ‘INDIDRIP’
“She like it when I drip, drip, drip” – it’s right there on the tin. That is the governing principle of the entire cosmos of songs like this. Many kneel on the cold floors of the church of the drip but very, very few come away with its blessings.
With this song – a hymn to drip – Louie Indigo shows that he’s clearly favoured by the drip gods. His flow is as airy and silken as the luscious beat that unspools with heady pounds of bass and speckles of shimmer that can animate the atmosphere in both the club and the bedroom. Within the incredibly stylised air of ‘INDIDRIP’, there’s the possibility for so much to happen. It’s the best kind of fantasy: You can believe in it.
Baby Combat – ‘Tokyo’
In the months since this song’s release, I’ve found myself thinking about it constantly, about the person I was back when all I used to listen to were songs like this and how they really don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
I don’t mean to sound like the back-in-the-day brigade, but we can’t escape from the fact that at some point in the 2010s, we got “feeling” and “vibe” mixed up. Feeling signifies concretion; it’s grounded in a definitive spectrum of emotion but vibe testifies to something more amorphous and transient. With ‘Tokyo’, Baby Combat turns in a mastery of feeling. There’s the argument that nostalgia is a cheat code invoked by those who want a quick entry into your heart. In ‘Tokyo’, though, its reach is universal and existential: You can never not feel its truth.
LEW – ‘Red Flags feat. Joie Tan’
Acoustic guitar-toting, guts-spilling singer-songwriters are a massive herd. But LEW stands apart from his peers by sheer force of personality alone.
In a mode that privileges the art of disclosure over ostentatious technicality, LEW is a singular force. He transcends – ably and powerfully – all that is required of him. ‘Red Flags’ is just a further illustration of this. Listen to the devastating quiver of his voice – his words have all the gravity worthy of a floor-shaking scream but his utterance is a whisper, all the more for you to feel his raw, bristling pain with.
Sezairi – ‘In Secret’
It’s a wonderful thing when openhearted R&B intersects with pop’s hook-forward thrust. Sezairi has been a prolific explorer of this sweet spot for the entirety of his career, which makes ‘In Secret’ the most evolved and sophisticated extent of his ardour. As a culture, we will never run out of ways to articulate those three simple words – which are the bedrock of our shared cultural experiences – but Sezairi can say “I love you” without going through the hassle of reinventing the wheel, and still bring the hammer of feeling down on you. His voice is sincere, reverential and effective, and when paired with sexy, stylish and sepia-lit production, powerfully convincing.
This is how you separate the pap from the pop.
Evanturetime – ‘You feat. Tim DeCotta and Vandetta’
How does a feather-light transmission bear so much soul and warmth?
How does a spiritual measure of grace coat every inch of sonic space?
How do every word and every element of sound here feel so delicate yet monumental?
The trinity on the track will tell you how.
slodown – ‘Sunset Spot (Sam Rui version)’
A slodown song is always more than the sum of its parts. All the love, sex, breakups and makeups that compose the narrative of any one of his songs cannot compare to the rarefied majesty that is the full effect. It’s in how his voice coaxes drama out of every aural and emotional detail, the totality of accrued power mounting until the last second.
Originally from the Skyline Death / Sunset Spot diptych, ‘Sunset Spot’ is crucial in slo’s body of work for it marks his first departure from his early sample-flipping “Wong Kar Wai of soul” rep and situates his voice in bass-forward, thoroughly contemporary production. But the effect is the same: It’s still a devastating case study of love’s bruising power.
This Sam Rui version sticks the landing. She’s the baby-voiced female presence that echoes slo’s pain and she plays that part with legitimately uncompromising commitment.
Give it up for a new gold standard.
Stillsunrise – ‘Breathing Fire’
With ‘Breathing Fire’, Stillsunrise has delivered one of the most creative tracks of the year, thus far. Everything starts off seeming normal as the track starts off slow and mellow, with velvet-smooth vocals leading the way, set to soothing and calming instrumentals. As the song builds, low rumbles echo in the background. Before you know it, low baritone voices join in, echoing in unison, adding an element of wonder to the track. For a minute, the song transforms into something exciting and draws listeners in exquisitely. It’s a carefully thought-out track, and one that not only showcases the band’s musical capabilities but also its strength in songwriting.
Daniel Sid – ‘greener grass’
To say that Daniel Sid has put on one of the best performances of the year would be an understatement. ‘greener grass’ is as exquisite as a debut single can get. Musically, the track is extremely well-produced, but the true highlight of the song is undeniably Daniel Sid’s vocals. It’s smooth and soothing, but as the track progresses, it gets raspier and gruff, in the best way possible. We’re talking about spine-tingling levels of highs here. With this performance, Daniel Sid has cemented his spot among Singapore's most essential voices.
Dru Chen – ‘I Only Get It From You’
Local singer-songwriter Dru Chen released his debut album this March to widespread acclaim. It’s a great record from start to finish, but if we had to single out the best song on the album, we’d end up with ‘I Only Get It From You’. A powerful single in its own right, the track does an incredible job of summing up Dru’s album, and his entire sound. With its strong blues roots shining through, ‘I Only Get It From You’ is a soulful, fun track that we can’t get out of our heads. Besides the strong songwriting from Dru, the track also boasts impeccable production and instrumentation. This song has no weak spots and has rightfully earned a spot as one of the best singles of 2019.
Linying – ‘All Of Our Friends Know’
Linying’s single, ‘All Of Our Friends Know’ is an incredibly well crafted track, with incredible performances across the board. Besides a near flawless performance from Linying, the track also boasts top notch production quality and instrumentation. But the reason this track stands out as one of the best releases of 2019 goes much deeper than that.
‘All Of Our Friends Know’ sees the singer at her most vulnerable as she process her love to that someone special. While it may be very well produced, Linying’s vocals and lyrics cut through the flowery instrumentation to reveal a raw and passionate situation beneath. If you’ve ever professed your love to anyone, you know it’s one of the scariest experiences in the world, and Linying’s lyrics do an incredible job at carrying that tone. Combine that with the track’s light and breezy instrumentation and you’re left with a a song that sticks in your head while resonating with you at your core.
MASIA ONE – ‘Hot Lit Fyah ft. Switche & Dr. Sakthi’
Released in the first quarter of 2019, ‘Hot Lit Fyah’ ushered in the new year with a bang. A collaborative effort between MASIA ONE, Dr. Sakthi and Switche, this party anthem is sure to bring every dance floor to its knees. Infectious beats, catchy melodies and satisfying drops pack this track with the spirit of having fun unapologetically. This is a give-zero-shits track that refuses to give up the spotlight; it’s explosive, attention-grabbing hook says it all, “Boom! We hot lit fyah!”
Coming Up Roses – ‘Lies’
Coming Up Roses’ debut single, ‘Lies’, was released in April earlier this year. The track is an apt introduction to the alternative rock/shoezage quartet, as it pairs Emily Sera’s clean, chiming vocals with heavy, almost grungy guitar tones. Percussion reminiscent of early-2000s pop-punk also points to the band’s interest in mixing slightly older sounds with those that are popular today. Since ‘Lies’, the band has gone on to release its mini-album, Waters, and enjoyed a successful launch show supported by two other Singaporean bands Knightingale and Subsonic Eye.
OHMYMEITING – ‘巴黎的十二点 / Midnight In Paris’
‘巴黎的十二点 / Midnight In Paris’ parallels the City of Love with a short-yet-impactful romantic relationship. Just like a short stay in Paris, such a relationship seems too good to last – once it’s over, that’s it. However, sometimes it’s the short romances that leave the deepest impressions. OHMYMEITING’s offering was also pretty well-timed, having been released in February, the month of love and romance. Despite the slightly poignant subject matter, the song gives a glimmer of hope – the sweet memories will always stay long after the end of the relationship.
Theodora – ‘letsnotcallitlove ft. Evanturetime’
The title track of Theodora’s debut EP, ‘letsnotcallitlove’ shines a light on the bittersweet reality of unrequited feelings and the confusion that comes with it. The song essentially portrays a last-ditch attempt to make things clear with the other party, just so that one can have a peace of mind. With the expertise of producers Evanturetime and Flightsch, Theodora sheds the skin of her singer-songwriter guise and steps into the shoes of an electro-pop/R&B diva, while still maintaining the integrity of her artistry so far.
Krysta Joy – ‘Wait’
Krysta Joy’s debut EP is a strong indicator of her musical prowess.
‘Her single Wait’ is a R&B anthem that encourages listeners to be patient with life and take their time with the things they do. The feel-good tune embodies the silver lining present with dark clouds – sometimes, one just needs to wait out the storm in order to see the sunlight again. The song comes with the promise of better days, as Krysta’s soulful voice and musicianship takes the hands (or rather, ears) of listeners and walks them down a path of sunshine and warmth.
Check out a playlist featuring our top singles of 2019 so far below.