Louder than the astroturf

Lingo lingoHere in Singapore we’re all naturally very excited about having reached our 50th birthday. As part of the celebrations, a bunch of local celebs have released a song about the wonders of Singlish.

I’d link to it here, but since I watched it last night it’s been set to private, for reasons that I shall go into in a moment.

It basically looks like a K-pop video, with a mixture of tits:


gangsta rap bling (plus additional tits):


and extremely synchronised dancing:


Also, somewhat strangely, there isn’t all that much Singlish in the song. You can read the lyrics here. And you can read them because they’re pretty much entirely comprehensible to any basic English speaker.

As Mothership.sg points out:

As someone who is fluent in Singlish – this song doesn’t sound Singlish. It’s like throwing in a bunch of random French words into a song and calling it a French song. Baguette, croissant, oui oui. Foux du Fa Fa. Non.

If you want to listen to a song with some actual Singlish in that was genuinely popular, check out Munah and Hirzi’s parodies, which need subtitles unless you are a minah or an ah-beng yourself:

However, what’s interesting is that bling definitely isn’t something that comes naturally to the Singaporean national character. Even in the current mood of pan-Asian optimism that is accompanying the rise of China and India, Singaporeans are not – by nature – flashy people, and tend to look down on this sort of tuhao culture as exemplified by mainland Chinese. Mothership again:

Also starring in the video is a bevy of Lambos and Ferraris which kinda made no sense at all because our national mode of transport is definitely the Bus or MRT. Thus, it should be ‘Can you hear our echo. Louder than the train fault.’

On the whole the national reaction has been one of snark and scepticism, which is probably why the video has been pulled. See, for example, the reaction from Coconuts Singapore:

Give a slow clap for yourselves, ladies and gents — we have all done our service to the nation this SG50.

With all our snarky powers combined, the travesty that is the ‘Lingo Lingo’ music video has been taken down from the JTV YouTube channel, ensuring that Singaporeans everywhere will never be exposed to such a godawful clip. Or at least for now, until it goes up again.

Luckily, we did save some highlights from the stunningly out-of-touch music video, featuring Ah Boys to Men’s Tosh Rock, some dude called Bunz, and a whole lot of cringeworthy lyrics, among other things. To top it all off on its proverbial turd-cake, the video claims to be a tribute to our Singlish patois. You can check out our original article here.

If you’d like to find out the thought process behind the abysmally bad concept, take a gander at this behind the scenes clip. ‘Why 50 supercars? I feel that they represent a lot of our Singaporean culture and behaviour’. Wow… just wow.

However, there are a whole plethora of political implications to it that I am going to go into now. Or just skip the cheeminology and go back and look at the nehneh some more, liddat oso can.

Firstly, since this is Singapore, we can assume that this received some sort of official government sanction before being released. This is unusual because the Singapore government has not traditionally been a fan of Singlish, having spent years trying to cajole its population into sounding less ghetto in their everyday interactions via the Speak Good English Movement. (However, it’s worth noticing that this isn’t the first recent government-backed video to endorse unofficial dialects: remember the awesome Hokkien retirement PSA?)

Secondly, government initiatives that try to be cool almost never succeed. As has been observed here before, politicians only become cool when they clearly don’t care about being cool. Attempting to jump on someone else’s bandwagon, however proficient the attempt, will be seen through immediately by a media-savvy public and subjected to widespread derision.


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