The music – created to fit their lyrics beautifully – helps a lot, but it’s the message that will ultimately bag one of these promising songwriters the Eco-Music Challenge grand prize on August 25th. Yahoo! Singapore spoke to 10 of the 12 finalists to find out what it takes to create a song that can move Singaporeans to be more committed to the environment. Then visit www.nea.ecomusic.sg for a listen after you read this.
Five Eco-Music Challenge finalists: (from left) Andy Chong, Barizah Abu Bakar, Chloe Chia, Jessica Irawan and Shaun Jensen.
“Green As Love” by Andy Chong
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? “Love is green/You will see”. It sings of my belief that our nature to love and feel conquers everything. When people start to realise how much we’re neglecting the world, society will eventually demand a change in the current system, where the economy is superior to the ecosystem.
Why your song’s got the edge: “Fresh and feels very shiok”, was the feedback I received. Many people loved the song but couldn’t really say why – they grew to like it more and more every time they played it. “Green As Love” is the result of my entire month’s struggle to challenge not just the current environmental movement, but also the concept of commercial music.
“Because Of You” by Barizah Abu Bakar
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? “Reduce, reuse the stuffs we can’t save/Like water that comes from the pouring rain / Recycle paper and card boxes too… / Love the clear blue sky / Love the clear blue sea / Love the trees so green / That’s the way to live…”
Why your song’s got the edge: The 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) can be easily understood by any generation and can be put into practice by anybody. That’s why the title is “Because of You”, in that every individual can play a vital role to save the earth. I believe that it’s a “people” song.
“Yours And Mine” by Chloe Chia and Evan Low
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? "We've got to find a better way/For the world to be okay”. In writing the song, we’ve explored some environmental issues and thought about what’s happening around us. We believe that we must [practise] what we preach. By making a conscious effort in our daily lives to save the environment, we hope that in our own simple way the world is going to be okay.
Why your song’s got the edge: Despite the lyrics being simple, it leaves a strong impression on the listener. And judging by the winning pieces every year, it’s clear that we needed to write a song that is simple, catchy and able to convey a message about saving the environment within a short period of time.
“Tell Our Story” by Jessica Irawan
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? "We hold the key in our hands / It is never too late / It’s our part to make some changes”. There’s no point in delivering the message to people if you don’t put it into practice yourself. Now I’m more conscious with the consumption of electricity and water; I try to be as efficient as possible.
Why your song’s got the edge: By the time I got the melody, the story line just came out on its own. My song is easy to listen to and catchy, and the message is clear. So I do believe people can relate to it right away from the first time they listen to it.
“The World Needs Help” by Shaun Jansen
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? “The world needs help and she’s calling for you / Today’s okay but tomorrow won’t do / The world cries out and she bleeds from inside / It’s our minds that we should fight”. These convey what I really feel about the environment: That saving it depends very much on not just one but everyone’s efforts. And the best place we can start is within ourselves.
Why your song’s got the edge: It has a simple yet catchy tune that you can remember, and also one that you could sway and groove to. I believe this helped give it a little bit of a “feel good” factor to listeners as well as to us performing it.
Eco-Music Challenge finalists: (from left) Timothy Thomas and Hiroshi Kondo, Travis Minjan and Evan Liao, Tristan Ong, Xillinnayi and Xin Yi.
“Gonna Make It Right” by Timothy Thomas and Hiroshi Kondo
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? "It’s getting warmer / We’re sinking lower / The beauty of this world will soon be over”. After spending so much time writing an eco song – and even compiling a list of global environmental issues to build our lyrics on – we subconsciously started to internalise the causes of global warming and the need to care for our environment. We have become more aware of our daily actions, especially in terms of energy saving – like switching off electrical appliances when they are not in use.
Why your song’s got the edge: It resonates well because of the catchy tune. We spent a lot of time and effort designing the lyrics well to avoid it sounding too amateurish and cliché. At the same time, we wanted to make the message prominent enough to create awareness for the cause. A lot of time was spent on trying different lyrics to see what fits and what doesn’t.
“Your World, Your Choice” by Travis Minjan and Evan Liao
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? “Can we love this place / With the love it gave”. I think the song urges people to think about how they can help and think differently, and realise that this is actually a lifelong campaign. Hopefully they understand that helping the environment is all about making a choice to start with themselves.
Why your song’s got the edge: Right from the start, I knew that the message of the song had to be strong and important. Coupled with a lighthearted tune like this right now is a kind of contrast that I really love. I believe songs should be catchy; when it is, people will find it more “singable” and therefore the message will come across.
“绿了” by Tristan Ong
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? I don’t think I can pick any; the whole verse and rap provide a clear meaning about being “green”. We just wanted a simple chorus so that everyone can sing together. We decided to do rap so we can add in everything we wanted to say.
Why your song’s got the edge: I think the lyrics are meaningful and the song is quite current, that’s why it’s appealing. We are going to enhance the drum beats and apply that to the chorus so it’s different from the rap. We are also looking to do a three-part harmony to make the song better. We hope that everyone can move to the beat and leave with smiles on their faces after listening to it.
“This Is Our Paradise” by Xilinnayi
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? believe the line “Green grasses / Blue sky,” which was repeated a few times, convey a very “green” message. This tells people that a beautiful place can be a very simple one: It doesn’t have to have tall mountains or clear rivers, just simply green grass and blue skies, which already make up a paradise.
Why your song’s got the edge: The biggest challenge was the chorus – it had to contain the most important message relavant to the theme, yet the tune and lyrics must be easy to remember. Luckily, I learned a lot of songwriting skills from the workshop held in Dunman High School by Mr Peng Chi Sheng. From what I’ve learnt, it is better to write songs in triple beats, etc.
The lyrics are simple and straightforward; people can sing along to the tune as it is easy to remember. It’s unique.
“Us, Everyone” by Xin Yi
What’s your favourite part of the song you created? “Making a change for the environment’s far better than facing crisis left for us to bear / So let us all unite… / This is the time!” I first composed the song on piano, where the basic melody and rhythm got sketched. There were some alterations to the beat and phrasing, so that the lyrics can fit in more easily. I thought that probably an uptempo drumbeat would suit the message, giving it the energy to encourage people; that as a collective force we can make a positive impact on the environment.
Why your song’s got the edge: Probably the straightforwardness of the song, and that it’s based on just one message: We should start small and we must start now.