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 YAØ, MYRNE, Jon Chua, Stefanie Sun, cues, Ae$Op Ca$H, Chloe Ho, Clement Chow and Lincoln Lim.
YAØ – ‘RHCF’
If this song blows up – as it should – it will become the soundtrack of millennial love.
RHCF is an abbreviation of “Rock Hands Crying Face” and refers to two extremely popular emojis. This song marks the apogee of YAØ’s ability to articulate the nuances of Internet age romance. The hook, “She loves me / she loves me”, with the second line stressed for emphasis, is an exclamation wherein he reveals his shock that feelings between his beloved and him are mutual.
Even more than the stylish digi-R&B setting, it’s YAØ’s uncynical and heart-on-sleeve celebration of love that makes this song essential.
Lincoln Lim – ‘Losing’
How do you esteem a life? How do you regard the sum total of everything that has led to this present moment in time? ‘Losing’ is Lincoln Lim’s answer.
The singer-songwriter-meditating-on-life lane is a beyond well-trod one – and it demands two huge things of the listener: Patience and empathy. Lim succeeds in that regard by conceiving of a gorgeous, world-blocking soundscape that conveys the earnest and sincere self-analysis he embarks on.
In his luscious world of strings, punctuated by light percussion, openhearted confessions such as “Try to lie to myself that I’m not alone”, resound with a significance that is moving and quietly monumental. This song is proof that not every cathartic experience requires a scream.
cues – ‘atlas’
Math rock is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. It’s never been concerned with converting the skeptics and it never will be.
cues hew to that tradition resolutely. ‘atlas’ is a wordless, compositionally complex transmission that operates on a dynamic of build and release. Various elements of sound – guitar, bass and drums – interlace in shimmering splendour, urging each other on towards climatic moments accompanied by choral vocals. It’s a thoroughly expressive canvas, suited for the unspooling of reveries. Though it teems with detail, it never feels rushed or bulky – that, too, is a triumph.
Jon Chua JX – ‘Ready For Ya ft. FLANNEL ALBERT’
Jon Chua’s solo debut came last week with ‘Ready For Ya’, a track that also features LA-based hip-hop artist FLANNEL ALBERT. This song is an eclectic mix of pop and hip-hop elements – melodic choruses, MIDI keys and clap machines set the stage for a sonically engaging listen. The production value of this track is pristine, being that the song also sees additional contributions from Evanturetime and Jason Gelchen.
‘Ready For Ya’ addresses taking a romantic relationship to the next level, even though time and place might not be on one’s side. Love is a feeling, but it is also a part of life that requires people to go through several different phases. Lyrics such as, “When I know, I know / I’ve never felt someone so close”, exhibit a sentiment that one will only have when they are absolutely sure that they’ve found “the one” – and it seems like Jon has found it.
Stefanie Sun – ‘守護永恆的愛’
In celebration of her 41st birthday, Singaporean Mandopop icon Stefanie Sun surprised fans with a new single, ‘守護永恆的愛’, which loosely translates to ‘Guarding Eternal Love’, as well as a new music video for the song. As she approaches her 20th anniversary since her debut, Stefanie released this song to celebrate the love and support that she has been shown over the years.
Many of her fans grew up listening to her music, and that is highlighted in lyrics such as “掌心貼著掌心 穿越銀河的臺階”, which means “palm to palm, we pass through the Milky Way”. It encapsulates how the fans have gone through the various stages of life with her, as if holding hands. Time has passed, but the eternal love between Stefanie and her fans will always be upheld.
Clement Chow – ‘None of This Came Easy ft. Rahimah Rahim, Tay Kewei, Nick Zavior’
‘None of This Came Easy’ by Clement Chow is a touching orchestral ballad that pays tribute to Singapore and commemorates the bicentennial of the Lion City. Featuring Rahimah Rahim, Tay Kewei and Nick Zavior, this song documents the struggles that the nation has faced over the last two centuries and what it took for the country to become the prosperous city it is today.
One thing is clear – this project has heart. Not only was the beautiful instrumental in this song done by the 66-piece Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra, the recording and mixing of the song was done at Sydney’s reputable Studio 301, as well as Singapore’s acclaimed Yellow Box Studios. The hard work put in by the team behind this track highlights the love they have for our country – just around the bend from Singapore’s 54th birthday.
Chloe Ho – I’m Just Really Bored
“Everything you say sounds the same / We’re supersizing dinner dates / Something ‘bout myself I really hate / Is that I’ll do anything for you any day”
What happens when you start to grow bored of your significant other? Do you question yourself? Or do you point the finger at the other party? Does growing bored of your partner mean that your love for them has weaned? Such are the questions that Chloe Ho addresses in the opening track of her album, Sorry ‘Bout Your Shoulder.
‘I’m Just Really Bored’ talks about the dilemma of being caught in a relationship where the spark has died. In such circumstances, feelings such as guilt, confusion, and apathy might arise. This song embodies those feelings, not only in terms of lyrics, but also in terms of its instrumentals. The song starts off with relatively calm, but towards the end, the music gets louder and more complex – just like how the frustration slowly manifests when one is caught up in such a relationship hurdle.
AE$OP CA$H – ‘Superbad’
Trap is the most crowded lane in hip-hop today. Which is why AE$OP CA$H is wise to veer away from it on ‘Superbad’, cruising instead on the sumptuous bounce of the soundtrack of golden age West Coast hip-hop: G-funk.
Though utterly relaxed, it’s a war cry. As much as it’s enjoyable to bump in a bass-heavy setting, it boasts an undeniable veneer of danger. The hook, “I’m so superbad, superbad, superbad”, is a threat, a boast of pride and, more crucially, of menace.
MYRNE – ‘Starsigns’
Myrne understands dance music immediately and instinctively. His calling card isn’t just his artful and savvy deployment of its loudest weapon, bass, but in how he makes titanic sounds sing with an emotional resonance.
‘Starsigns’ is par for the course. It’s big but not obtrusive. An airy female vocal functions as a counterweight, proffering a measure of beauty and grace in its wake and affirming the track’s emotional thrust by conveying its romantic narrative. Fantastically enough, it’s the lyrical freight that draws the listener in. “If there’s no reason why / Let’s blame our starsigns” is an extremely fatalistic and love-lorn point of view. It’s how you feel when you don’t know how else to feel.