Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by Boon Hui Lu (文慧如), Annette Lee, YAØ, Houg, and P3RRY.
Boon Hui Lu (文慧如) - ‘同行 By Your Side’
Boon Hui Lu has long proven herself with her Youtube covers of popular songs, where her refreshing take on the hits first catapulted her into the center of mainstream consciousness, but it is in her original work where she truly comes into her own and sharply distinguishes herself among the new wave of rising Mandopop artists.
‘同行 By Your Side’ hews to Boon’s penchant for expressive lyrics and pays testament to her talent for songwriting, packing simple yet emotionally plosive lines which capture the nuances of faith and determination through adversity with remarkable clarity and vivacity. Her voice also sees a slight evolution from her older covers here, seeing a pristine and increasingly controlled ebb and flow following the chord progressions.
If her previous album isn’t a loud enough declaration that the singer-songwriter, famously dubbed “cover queen”, is bent on cracking out of her chrysalis, then this is a reaffirmation of both her versatility and her breakaway towards a new direction that is entirely her own.
Annette Lee - ‘Gold’
“I used to tell myself I’m a mere mistake / Nothing more than a waste of space / Who needs a foe when I was / Beating myself up”
In four rapid lines, Annette Lee has adequately summed up the self-deprecating tendencies of our generation and our obsessive pursuit of perfection that drives us into thinking that being too hard on ourselves is a necessary lifestyle. There is a whole commentary that can be written about this—and in fact, songs the likes of Pink’s ‘Perfect’ and Colbie Caillat’s ‘Try’ deal with this very issue—but Lee isn’t interested in dissecting the social ramifications. She has a simple message: you are gold, even if you don’t know it. She sees it, she sees you, and she wants you to remind yourself of that.
This track follows hot on the trails of her previous release, ‘Song for the Underdog’, which advocates a similar message. Together, they make for an almost rebellious re-ignition of optimism and perseverance in a vortex of voices which may strive to persuade us otherwise.
YAØ - 'Moonlight'
Can trap, with its stylistic electronic soundscape, manage to sound tender or romantic?
YAØ’s latest release, ‘Moonlight’, says yes, it can. The singer-songwriter reveals another side to his sonic personality with his new track while retaining his signature R&B sound. This song is a soft one, a vulnerable soliloquy that digs deeper than anything he’s pushed out so far. It’s suffused with melancholy, but it isn’t all sad.
“No matter where you end up / I’ll be here, push away the clouds ‘cos / You’re safe in the moonlight / safe in the stars,” he sings, and it soothes like a welcome beam of light from a lone streetlamp on a dark night, where the world has never felt bigger or more overwhelming. No matter if the sun doesn’t rise the next morning, or that we are being swallowed by the uncertainty of midnight—right now, as long as this song lasts, we have moonlight to stay and guide our way. This is a song we're grateful for.
Houg - 'The Touch'
Houg, by all accounts, is an effective translator of even the most abstract feelings into a more tangible, accessible medium. Emotions are visceral on his latest album, The Oscillation Scene, and ‘The Touch’ offers privy to a fraction of his musings about our fluid state of existence.
‘The Touch’, as Houg shares in an official statement, is a song that “encapsulates the frenzy of overwhelming emotions that accompany severance or change”. True to his intentions, the song makes several pivots over the course of its 3-minute runtime. It’s many things all at once, and so it isn’t quite possible to pin down the crux of his sound immediately, but he does manage to ground his latest offering in a rhythm that is equally undeniable and compelling, and that is a small triumph in itself.
The rest of his album promises a similar glimpse into the “fickleness of life” as he calls it. As existential as that might sound, the universality of it means that there’s sure to be a narrative that’d resonate with you.
P3RRY - 'I Like You'
Attention. This is the perfect song to send your crush before deleting your messaging apps and locking your phone away for the next decade or two.
‘I Like U’ is for all you lovesick losers out there. P3RRY sees you, and he’s written a song for you and whoever you’re pining for. His newest track is a love song with the sonic soul of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, and pledges itself as a lovelorn, sensitive verse that finds authenticity in the strikingly straight-forward nature of the ode to his beloved.
As far as most love ballads go, it veers on the edge of corniness, but its no-frills honesty is its saving grace. P3RRY doesn’t spend time playing around with metaphors—instead, he dives right into it, making his intentions known while steeling himself for the possibility of a rejection. Even in a languid tune as this, there is an undercurrent of reckless vulnerability that is never more enthralling anywhere than in love.