Sunday, December 05, 2010

Songs About Singapore: Why Our Music Appeals To Western Ears.

On A Little Street In Singapore:
It's a well-known fact. A song about Singapore has been covered by top US bands and groups. And it was covered a long time ago. On A Little Street In Singapore is a very old song by Peter Derose and William J. Hill and was popular in the 30s and 40s.

            Manhattan Transfer: 'On a Little Street in Singapore' - Top of the Pops 1978

Dorsey, James, Sinatra, Miller:
It was revived in 1978 by the Manhattan Transfer and when the group was here, the song became their trademark. Besides the Manhattan Transfer, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, the Ames Brothers, Bert Kamfert and Glen Miller have covered it.

Exotic East:The lyrics are typical of songwriters from the West when they interpret the exotic East, 'We'd meet beside a lotus covered door' and 'My sails tonight are filled with perfumes of Shalimar/With temple bells that guide me to her shore...' I am wondering if the cruise ships currently plying our shores are aware of this practice.

Suzie Wong:
Would be a great idea to boost tourism but shouldn't we have church bells too? And Christmas bells? Songs about Asia by Westerners will always have this cliched viewpoint and Singapore is no different, a sunny island in the mysterious East with its slant-eyed, cheongsam chicks called Suzie Wong. By the way, have you seen 'a lotus covered door' lately?

Charlie Chan:
To be fair, On A Little Street is a great song from the 40s, with its razzmatazz and jazzy, finger snapping composition but I am not too sure about the lyrics. Seems like Charlie Chan is still lurking around in some corner with his moustache and greasy hair. And Singaporeans are still wearing coolie-hats and samfoo!!!

Bootleg CDs:
Is this the Singapore some Western listeners are interested in, when they buy bootleg CD selections lifted from 60s Asian music vinyls? No wonder our 'older' songs are still selling. All for the wrong reason. Or is it for the 'Wong' reason?

Click: Movie Theme Songs Label below to check similar article about song Sayonara. (July 3rd, 2009).

Original Article: Andy Lim.

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