Of fun packs and notoriously viral Singapore songs

The Fun Pack Song, which drew ire and disdain from netizens both in Singapore and abroad.

The Fun Pack Song, which drew ire and disdain from netizens both in Singapore and abroad.

Let’s face it – you’ve all heard that song. At an event where thousands of Singaporeans congregate to celebrate the anniversary of their nation’s independence. On a day associated with patriotism, the colour red and the flag of the nation, which turns 46 this year. At the time to celebrate the Republic’s achievements over the years in the heart of the city, against the backdrop of the city skyline.

Suddenly, you hear the emcees sing along to a modified version of a hit single by American pop sensation Lady Gaga. But this isn’t your usual Bad Romance. “Kopi-o o o o o o o o o o…“, they chant.

At that point in time, you realise that you’re listening to the Fun Pack Song. Starting off with encouraging you to fly the flag, the lyrical value starts spiraling downwards when you hear the hosts sing about waving lightsticks, pretending the parade is a disco.

But the abomination does not end here. The song celebrates the very contents of the bag – wet tissues, NeWater, biscuits and sweets, before ending off with “Attack the fun pack!”

The fun pack, with its contents displayed outside, is a mainstay in every National Day Parade.

Such is the irony of a verse from the song, “We like the fun pack song”, that the original clip, taken during a combined rehearsal at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on Jul 2, which has since over 190000 views on YouTube, has also received more than 7000 ‘dislikes’.

The same sentiment was echoed when The UrbanWire conducted a poll, of which, as of press time, out of 61 respondents, 55 had voted the Fun Pack Song as the ‘FAIL song of Singapore’.

And with Lady Gaga herself coming to Singapore on Jul 7, fans would be sure that the 25-year-old would literally ‘facepalm’ upon hearing that song.

YouTuber nusld summed it up in their own words, “I feel ashamed being a Singaporean. Our National Day should be a patriotic moment for Singapore but the organisers seems to insult it by infusing (an_ American Pop song and then messing up with copyrights issues. What next? Rap for our pledge and dancing to the tune of our National Anthem? They are over anticipating what youths want and imposing it on all of us… Pity!”

But the Fun Pack Song is not the first song to receive flak from Singaporeans and netizens around the world. More recently, the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, held in 2010, saw the Singapore Sports Council team up with homegrown crooner JJ Lin for a jitty entitled ‘You Are The One, Singapore’.

JJ Lin's jingle for the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore was (in)famously remembered for its cheesy chorus.

The title seemed to imply uplifting, inspirational and highly motivational lyrics for athletes competing at the Games. But catchy as the hook “Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah, HEY!” went, it was panned by netizens for the cheesiness of the chorus as well as the ‘butterfly hand’ dance. Even the appearance of former national sporting heroes C. Kunalan and Ang Peng Siong, as well as 2009 Asian Games swimming champion Tao Li did little to boost the public’s approval of the song.

And it is not just celebrities or singers who drew flak for songs relating to their public campaigns. In 2007, members of the Singapore Media Development Authority’s senior management uploaded a rap video, which went viral, going as far as to clinching 6th spot on YouTube for the most number of views during that period of time.

The MDA senior management rap went viral on YouTube in November 2007.

The rap featured CEO Christopher Chan and media veteran Man Shu Sum. It involved practically little or no rhyming, unlike typical hip hop music. Cynical comments like “They were just having fun with their new green screen” and “Exceedingly painful to watch” appeared all over. But some gave the benefit of doubt and said, “But hey, they got the balls eh?”, giving a rating of 4 out of 5 for the video.

Songs with poor lyrics, cheesy dance moves and slipshod production will no doubt continue to be on the minds of netizens. And there is one thing for sure – there will be more to come in future. Keep your eyes on the Net.

About Tan DingXiang

Preferring to go by his initials DX, Tan DingXiang is a extremely inquisitive when it comes to technology and entertainment. A Wikipedia administrator since 2006, he is never seen without his Macbook and phone... well, almost.
  • Alex Liang

    Hi DX, great article. I was born and bred in Singapore up till the age of 21 but have spent the last 14 years in Europe and the Middle East. I think there are two issues here which have gotten somewhat tangled up and perhaps I can try to untangle the two please.

    Living in Europe and the Middle East means having to constantly explain what Singapore is like to my friends here and having to do that over and over again has allowed me to look at Singapore with fresh eyes. A line that I have used again and again is that Singapore doesn’t have it’s own language (well, there’s Singlish) and unlike ancient civilizations like the Greeks and the Chinese, Singapore doesn’t really have it’s own culture either and it has a relatively short history compared to countries like Spain, Turkey, Iran etc. This exercise of nation building and trying to create a national identity from scratch really only started in 1965. I compare this to Slovenia and Slovakia – both countries have only been independent since 1991 and 1993 respectively, but both countries have a much stronger sense of identity because of whom their unique languages and cultures – something Singapore lacks. And unlike Australia and America (which are nations built by immigrants), well, we just don’t have as long a history to shape a national identity like them.

    So for many years, the government has worked hard to try to create this national identity – not an easy process and with limited success. So the ‘Fun Pack Song’ fiasco is simply another unsuccessful attempt which they will simply have to chalk up to experience and add on their long lists of things not to do, ever again.

    Can you create a strong national identity from scratch under such circumstances? That’s a tall order to fulfill in an awfully short time – so perhaps in that context, one should be gracious in forgiving mistakes like the Fun Pack Song. But this begs the question – why has this become such a focus of hate and anger for Singaporeans over such a short space of time?

    This brings me on to my next point.

    Many Singaporeans are angry. Boy are they angry and disappointed – especially since they were hoping for major changes after the general election of 2011. Hopes were raised, the GE came and went and little has changed. So Singaporeans venting their frustrations on the Fun Pack Song is symbolic – after all, this is the NDP, it is supposedly a patriotic celebration of one’s Singaporean identity. Yet it has turned into a focal point for people to vent their anger and frustration over what is ultimately, a stupid artistic decision (it now looks like the song will not be performed on National Day). My question to you is this: why are people in Singapore so angry over this when it’s certainly not the first stupid Singaporean “song” that has come their way?

    It’ll take another essay to answer that question – I’ll let you think about that one my friends.

  • Tan DingXiang

    Dear Mr. Liang, I agree with you. This air of resentment has carried on from the recent General Elections. Let us be fair, with no bias towards or against any party when we say this – the sense of patriotism has faded over time.

    A portion of the young generation is no longer able to understand the symbolism behind the image of the nation and what makes us Singaporeans.
    It is not about our partisan allegiance.
    It is about respect for all parties, acceptance of all views and the rational, fair and calm representation of your views for the benefit of the people, following your conscience.

    As angry as people may be towards this song, this will be a lesson to reflect on – celebrate the success of our nation, not material goods, which are transient as time goes by.

    In the coming Presidential Election, this will determine if we see a unifying figure for Singaporeans, someone who is truly independent, someone who does not lean towards one party or the other.

    We will see in time to come, if that sense of patriotism can be instilled in us Singaporeans once again.

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