Sunday, September 06, 2015

Top Election Years and Pop Selection Gears 60s-70s

Election Day 2015
The Singapore Parliamentary General Election 2015 will be held on Friday, 11th September. Election fever is high as many people are gearing towards the big day to vote.  Green fields are packed nightly as the crowds throng to these open areas to listen to what candidates for this season are going to rant, chant, promise or present during these hustings.

I am not qualified to write about any election topic since I'm no poli-tikus (Malay: political rat or the coffee-shop humbug; an endearment actually). What I have done for this posting was to connect the Singapore General Election results between 1960's and 1970's with song hits in the same period using four simple tables taken from Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 Singles of 1965, 1968, 1972 and 1976.

Singapore left the Federation of Malaya and became an independent and sovereign nation on 9th August 1965. The Barisan Sosialis boycotted the first session of parliament and on 8th October 1966 announced the resignation of all its nine members, leaving the People's Action Party (PAP) with a monopoly. 

(image from Mun Chor Seng above: monochrome TV showing Pasir Panjang Constituency where PAP candidate Othman Wok had highest votes).
August 7"I'm Henry VIII, I Am"Herman's Hermits
August 14"I Got You Babe"Sonny & Cher
August 21
August 28
September 4"Help!"The Beatles
September 11
September 18

Now let's look at the top tunes for 9th August. Herman (Peter Noone) was at the top of the hit parade, while Mr. LKY couldn't have been singing, "I'm Harry the First, I am," because he had a lot to do then.  Our new MPs in 1965 could have been echoing, "I Got you Babe," when they took over the whole of parliament that year. Jubilation! So were Sonny and Cher.
"Help!" was another top tune n 1965. Did The Beatles movie help in the song's success? Or did it help to sell marijuana?  "A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. That helped make it a lot of fun," remarked Ringo Starr. 

In Singapore it was otherwise because a total ban and tough stand on marijuana (ganja) and drugs by the anti-narcotics bureau, under the direction of the government, kept the island clean. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (1967) and "Yellow Submarine" (1966) were banned. Was "Help"?
April 13"Honey"Bobby Goldsboro
April 20
April 27
May 4
May 11
May 18"Tighten Up"Archie Bell & the Drells
May 25
June 1"Mrs. Robinson"Simon & Garfunkel
June 8
June 15
Singapore held its first general election as an independent nation on 13th April 1968, with the PAP taking all parliamentary seats in 58 constituencies and garnering 84.4 percent of total votes cast. 

Garnering all the parliamentary seats was a winning gold for the People's Action Party with a pot of honey as the prize. By coincidence, on the hit parade, Goldsboro's "Honey" hit gold too, for five consecutive weeks.  This song is still a personal favourite. Some friends considered the song too boring. Like in parliament; who's going to debate with whom?
While sensuous Mrs Robinson became as popular on record with Simon n Garfunkel and won Grammy Awards, the movie, The Graduate won Academy Awards as well.  When the film was shown in Singapore, the hot topic was its "sexiness". Middle-aged Bancroft pulled up her skirt, revealed her legs and showed them to a young under-grad. And it was sexy? Well, it happened in the last century. Made Dustin Hoffman a super star.

Who's Archie Bell?

Five opposition parties – the Barisan Sosialis, the Workers’ Party, the People’s Front, the United National Front and Pertubohan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura (PKMS) – contested the next general election held on 2nd September 1972.

The ruling PAP campaigned on its record of effective government and repeated its success by again taking all 65 parliamentary seats, representing 69.02 percent of total votes cast. Did Parliament House whisper, "Baby don't get hooked on me." Mac Davis did.
September 2"Alone Again (Naturally)"Gilbert O'Sullivan
September 9
September 16"Black and White"Three Dog Night
September 23"Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me"Mac Davis
September 30
October 7
October 14"Ben"Michael Jackson
October 21"My Ding-a-Ling"Chuck Berry
October 28
On the same September 2nd, O'Sullivan made his hit. I still prefer his other song, "Clair" but then "Alone Again, (Naturally)" was appropriate. Like the MPs in 1972 who were alone again, naturally, won all seats.  The hit songs those years seemed to have been mysteriously reflecting the MPs battle cries.

If you look at the chart above, Three Dog Night came afterwards with Black and White. I love it with its simple rhythmic and repetitive lyrics.  Like a lot of advertisement jingles the message delivers. But Berry's, *"My Ding-A-Ling" is extremely naughty. On the other hand MJ's "Ben" is a real tear-jerker. Even today, it hits the heart like a ton of cement.
These songs were my choices but by September 1972 and in my own personal interest I decided to get serious with my studies. With two other selected candidates I left for New Zealand in February 1973, under a Colombo Plan Scholarship. 

How appropriate the song because the course we attended had students from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Fiji and NZ:

The ink is black, the page is white 
Together we learn to read and write 
A child is black, a child is white 
The whole world looks upon the sight 
A beautiful sight.

In NZ three other hits from 1972 stayed glued in my mind, even up till today because these songs were played practically every day and every where in Wellington. Beautiful Sunday, Me and Mrs Jones, Killing Me Softly With His Song and Mother and Child Reunion. Only Roberta Flack's Killing Me is a '73 song.
After I came home from Kiwiland it was election time again and another winning streak for the ruling folks. The PAP repeated its success in the 1976 general election held on 23rd December when it won all 53 seats uncontested, thus sweeping all 69 parliamentary seats. The party’s share of the popular vote increased to 72.4 percent.  By then I was involved in my work with young adults and hardly had time for political chats and popular songs.
November 13"Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)"Rod Stewart
November 20
November 27
December 4
December 11
December 18
December 25
Coming back to the number one song in December that year, Stewart's hit could have mimicked the joyous atmosphere during an evening's celebration by the ruling party (if they had one that evening) and, "Tonight's the night, gonna be alright!" Like the dominant Stewart with his only pop hit those seven weeks (see chart), the same political group held the fort for another four years.

The following general election after 1976 was on 23 December, 1980 and beyond the period of this blog and its pop song coverage.

So there you are dear readers. If you remember a song to connect with a particular election year and an incident you remember, do write in. Especially if it was between 1960 and 1980.
On the evening of 11th September 2015, you will sing with a special joy because, that night's "the night" when the results are out and everything's "gonna be alright" for the next five years. Hopefully!

So please vote wisely on 9/11. Remember once you vote there is no, "Lagi sekali (one more time)".

“This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” 

- William Shakespeare, 'Hamlet'

You Tube Video by: J.K.elley

Images: Google and Mun Chor Seng (copyrights).

*NB: It is possible that some of the above songs were banned in Singapore those years and would not have been played on air. Let me know.

An original article.


11th September, 2015.

Polling Day Today:

9/11 and those eligible are going to cast their votes today. Lines of people who wish to go early were ready with their identity cards or passports and polling slips this morning as the special stations all over the island were opened at 8.00 am to receive the more than 2.4 million Singaporeans.

Election Results:

The outcome of the GE2015 will be made known after 8.00 pm tonight on local TV and other media outlets.  Check it out.

Latest News:

The ruling pop group hits the right notes and won the Award again by winning most of the seats in the Singapore Parliamentary Elections 2015. Congratulations to the People's Action Party and PM Lee Hsien Loong.


Rudro Rusho said...

Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!


Thanks to Jalani Mohamed, Charles De Silva, Denyse Tessensohn, Richard Toh, Tan Soo Khoon, Lim Kuan Min, Dick Yip, Audie Ng for the thumbs up.

CYLIN said...

Wow, the time machine. So much material dug and put up. I hope this is not your swan song!!!


Dear Andy,

Thank you for the posting, the contents were great and it’s really good to read so much past memories of your collection.

Time fleets like flash of lights and once we don’t use it we lose it, then what’s left is only darkness.

Appreciate your gentle reminder to vote wisely, as it cannot be “lagi-sekali”, once it’s over no one can turn back the clock.

50 years of nation building is never an easy task, words are cheap and talking is easy but “action speaks louder than voice”!

A lot of promises had been said of the GE hustings but what’s important is the track record we have seen over the last 50years, is the truest performance that speaks volume! I too have told all my friends to vote wisely and vote for a secure and better future!


I’m just sharing my views:

Thank you Andy and let’s reach out to all our eager friends out there.

Best Regards,

PS: Good Government gives us all, the united people of Singapore, the good future where we all can continue to enjoy good music in many years to come.

JIMMY CHNG said...

Hi Andy,

A really nice read and a great relief for my "numbed" mind due to election rallies overload.
I remember listening over radio to a ditty/jingle to remind voters of that time. This was way back in 1959!
It went something like this:

Our election day, is 30th May
Do please note that you must vote
Only you will know who you voted for
Do remember, on our choice depend
The future trend of our Singapore
So go to the Polls on 30th May
And cast your vote on Election Day

Do you remember listening to this as well?

JAMES KWOK said...

Hi Andy


Snippets from readers and sms' said...

What's the truth? We won't know unless you are in government. There can never be total transparency because responsible leaders need to weigh serious impact of disclosure in a multi racial society.

Some truth about succession. Don't see any outstanding young minister.

Best guys won't go into politics. Thankless job.

Not even with a million dollar salary. Who would want to sacrifice family and personal time to do thankless ministerial job under Singaporeans' high expectations.

SMS' Snippets said...

Problem is too many opposition parties.

Want to bankrupt Singapore? Vote opposition.

I have a phrase for today's political RALLIES which I always use every four years. "THE WORMS ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK." Worse, The worm catcher is no more around.

Do Singaporeans need to undergo some political crisis to emerge more mature and wise. Why gamble our future?

chakapchakap said...

"Honey," also known as "Honey (I Miss You)," is a song written by Bobby Russell. He first produced it with former Kingston Trio member Bob Shane. Then he gave it to American singer Bobby Goldsboro, who recorded it for his 1968 album of the same name, originally titled "Pledge of Love".

The song's narrator mourns his deceased lover. This single about the loss of a loved one hit No. 1 the week after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. (from Wiki)

chakapchakap2 said...

"Black and White" is a song written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson.

The most successful recording of the song was the pop version by Three Dog Night in 1972, when it reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Easy Listening charts.

The song was inspired by the United States Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation of public schools. It was first recorded by Pete Seeger in 1956, followed by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1957. The original lyrics of the song opened with this verse, in reference to the court:

Their robes were black, Their heads were white,
The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight,
Nine judges all set down their names,
To end the years and years of shame.

anonymous said...

"When the people are more learned through education, they question. Which is good. But when the questioning is not based on objectivity but influenced by pathological hatred that some anti-establishment Singaporeans have shown, their minds will be closed to reason. No amount of explanation will help."

zainulazizan said...

In 1955 when Singapore was part of Malaya this cute but informative song was broadcast daily over the radio during the General Election and we heard it day and night. It reminded those people who were eligible to vote to go to the polls.

It was sung by Zainal Alam, a popular and successful comedian. I could not get the English recording but the tune is similar.

The Voting Song
(English version)

Vote vote vote
Everybody vote
Remember eleventh is the day
Don't forget
That you must not delay
Vote wisely vote with care
Everybody vote

When you vote
You must vote wisely
What people say
You 'jangan peduli'
(don't bother)
Use your head
Think very carefully
Remember once you vote
There is no 'lagi sa-kali'
(one more time).

Image: Google.
You Tube Video: wgc26.
Contributor: zainulazizan.

suituapui said...

The Silver Strings together with the late Shirley Nair came to Sibu in the 70's - they performed at the Cathay Cinema. Merlin was with them - he corresponded with my cousin for a while after they went back to Singapore...until she left for further studies in Christchurch, New Zealand. They have lost touch now, it seems.

My favourite song by them would be "Come Home to me". I came across this SG50 video clip on them and I really enjoyed it a lot...


For overseas readers who read this blog:

Cooling-Off Day

The eve of Polling Day is designated as Cooling-Off Day, a day when election campaigning is prohibited. This 24-hour campaign silence period is to give voters some time to reflect rationally on issues raised during the election before going to the polls.

There are some exceptions to the prohibition of campaign activities on Cooling-Off Day:
Party political broadcasts on television;
Reports in the newspapers, on radio and television relating to election matters;
Approved posters and banners that were already up, and lawful Internet advertising that was already published before the eve of Polling Day;
Books previously scheduled for publication;
The transmission of personal political views by individuals to other individuals, on a non-commercial basis, using the Internet, telephone or electronic means; and
Such activities or circumstances as may be prescribed by the Minister.

The above exception list, other than party political broadcast, also applies to Polling Day.

anonymous said...

"I Got You Babe" is a 1965 song written by Sonny Bono, from first single, first album, "Look at Us", of Sonny n Cher. In August that year the song was three weeks at #1 on Billboard Hot 100 in US where it sold more than one million copies - certified Gold. Also reached #1 in the UK and Canada.

In 2011, song was named as one of the greatest duets of all times by both Billboard and Rolling Stone magazine and listed at #444 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

(Edited: wiki).

anonymous said...

I don't know - there's so much wayang going on (this 7th month).
When I got off at the bus stop at my place, I had the 'best' one (wayang) smacked in my face. All our blocks are on high ground. For a long time residents have asked for a ramp for the elderly/wheelchair bound to get to the stop. Answer --not possible because of different ground level heights.

A week or so before rumours of coming elections, a big banner and posters went up to announce that we'll get a lift connecting two blocks leading to a ramp by mid 2016. Today I see signboard, barricade, sand, cement on the ground near the blocks, but no workmen. Tomorrow we have to pass by this area to get to the polling booth!!!

chakapchakap said...

Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright) is a song by Rod Stewart, recorded in Sheffield, Alabama, US for his 1976 album A Night on the Town. The song was his second US chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100, peaked at #5 in UK, #3 in Australia and charted well in the world. It was the number 1 song in Billboard's 1977 year-end chart.

ANON said...

"There will come a time when eventually the public will say, look, let's try the other side, either because the PAP has declined in quality or the opposition has put up a team which is equal to the PAP."

-Lee Kuan Yew.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to those who provided interesting, strong and witty comments regarding our hustings. Without all your thoughts and ideas this posting would have been a short simple history about our past elections and the pop songs that reflected those years.

We all go to the polls tomorrow and we need to vote for people whom we think will serve the country best. It was easy those earlier years to make a choice but now it's a different ball-game. I'm still thinking. Will I vote for the group that has proven itself time and time again or will I vote for new groups that promise to check the ruling party for another 4 or 5 stable and peaceful Singapore years? I have narrowed the whole slam-bang to just this question.

I love the song selection. Did you?

Reflections said...

Of opposition parties in Singapore?

1. “Words, words, words.”

2. “If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.”

3. “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain. ”

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet


To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to who wouldn't do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about, God in His mercy

Oh, if he really does exist
Why did he desert me
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally...

Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Alone Again, (Naturally)".

John Cher said...

Hi Andy. Great stuff! You have quite a following, locally, regionally and internationally as well. You have earned the recognition! Congrats. I am of the view that this is not the right place to discuss our political inclinations. Suffice to say that I enjoyed your creative presentation.

Keep up the great work Andy! You are making a lot of folks happy.

Have a great weekend!

Voting has just ended and I hope your favourite team/s will win. We will know in a few hours. I am preparing some strong coffee to keep me awake til all the results are out or at least until when the Holland/Bk Timah result is known.



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you John for best wishes and positive feedback regarding this blog.

This posting was written not to discuss "political inclinations" but more to take the readers back during the four elections from the 60's and 70's to discuss songs that were top hits within that period. You may have noticed the song information put up on Comments to remind readers that this is a music blog. The whole idea was to write it tongue in cheek. But the emails kept coming in.

I didn't see your comment till this morning and it's 10.10 am on 12th September (computer date is still yesterday). Results are out and the ruling party is still on track. I think we should congratulate them shouldn't we? They've done a great job looking after our peace, tranquility, health, etc. At my age I can't ask for more.

For readers' information John has written a personal and informative article about REX GOH the former guitarist who accompanied AIR SUPPLY on their recordings and tours. We are still waiting for Mr Goh's OK to publish the article.