This note is stolen from his Facebook. Because such good shit should be shared, not hoarded.
Alfian Sa’at wrote on Facebook:
“Just saw this year’s NDP theme song video. It’s quite funny.”
And he goes on to dissect it bit by bit:
1) The whole video is shot with pastel palettes beloved of high-end condo ads. There’s genteel lens flares, hazy light through white curtains and panoramic shots of the kinds of views that 1% of Singaporeans enjoy.
2) We see the two singers at the beginning–Olivia Ong and Natanya Tan–with their backs facing each other. Not sure why this estranged posture, but it could be inspired by the Merlion and the baby Merlion–whose backs are also facing each other–at the Merlion Park. Quite nationalistic.
3) We see a couple, just rousing in bed, making eye contact. They’re wearing quite thick clothing (the woman also wears smearproof makeup, because her pillows and sheets are pristine white) and are smothered in a duvet. It is obvious that they sleep with the aircon on. And it’s OK because whatever carbon footprint this wasteful couple leaves behind is offset by the fact that there’s a lot of nature shots (reservoirs, greenery, dewdrops) in the video.
4) We next see a girl, in a reclining chair. She could be Indian, or Malay…or maybe Indian-Muslim…or whatever, the token minority box is checked. Next!
5) The next shot is of a guy, holding a guitar, and penning the lyrics to a song. By the way, the girl in the previous shot was also writing something (poetry, maybe?) in her notebook. Singaporeans are so creative and inspired!
6) We see the couple again, and they’re having a playful pillowfight. Are they not creative? They probably were, the night before, but you can’t show *that* in the video.
7) We next see another token minority–a guy, this time, at a park, with his laptop. He spots something in the distance and closes his laptop. This something is an old Chinese man, who has brought along his pet bird, in its birdcage. The guy asks the old man what he is doing. “Oh, I am teaching my bird to read this information plaque here.” The guy replies “I, on the other hand, am trying to get Wifi connection in this park.” The old man says, “What a strange person you are,” and the guy replies, “You too!” The two lonely eccentrics bond.
8) Poet girl walks across the frame, and in the background, an LRT carriage travels across an elevated track. At the same pace at which she walks. Which should be about right.
9) Wasteful couple decide to ‘see how other people in Singapore live’ and thus visit a wet market.
10) If you thought the park scene was bizarre, this next scene raises the bar. We see the Singapore skyline at night, and then we realise it’s an image in a crystal ball. Two young women are looking at it. They’re in some kind of a library/study, and they’ve switched on lamps and lit candles. What kind of occult shenanigans is going on? Who are these wiccans with rebonded hair? What ill-will do they harbour towards the Central Business District? Or is this just the future of HDTV?
11) One of the wiccan sisters advances towards the window. She parts the curtains, and it’s actually daylight outside. And yet they’ve switched on the lamps in their room. The wasteful couple have met their match.
12) Wiccan sister spots the guitar troubadour–who is now wearing a jacket–and they exchange smiles. In actual fact she is laying a hex on him: “may you meet other inappropriately-attired people in the course of your day.”
13) The wasteful couple, still in slum-tourism mode, are fascinated by the sight of someone making teh tarik.
14) Poet girl is apparently in possession of some strong magnet (possibly her bangle) which causes LRT carriages to trail her wherever she goes.
15) She stumbles upon a group of senior citizens practising taiji. She smiles meaningfully, and is inspired to write her next poem. Entitled “Movement Moves Me”, it will be about the juxtaposition of the modern and traditional, about the path of trains and the flow of qi, which she will submit to an anthology of poems about the MRT.
16) The hex materialises. Troubadour guy (in jacket) meets laptop guy (with inner singlet) meets poet girl (with scarf around her neck). Together, they march in defiance of the climate and a song whose lyrics include the line ‘warm sunny days’.
17) They are joined by other people, walking along a row of shophouses. Where are they all heading? As it turns out, to Changi Airport. To receive their friends and relatives. That’s quite a long walk! And not one of them breaks a sweat. Lee Kuan Yew’s dream of air-conditioned underwear has come true. The future is here.
18) An orgy of hugging ensues. Laptop guy, who hugs another guy, makes sure that it’s more of a hybrid handshake-hug, because they’re like, bros, not homos.
19) Natanya Tan’s parents turn up. They ask her, “where have you been?” She replies, “Oh, just singing a duet on a precipitous balcony with an aloof stranger who barely acknowledged my presence.” Olivia Ong looks at her with a strained, pursed-lip smile.
20) Olivia sings, “When it feels this right…” and she looks blissful, her head framed against the clouds, the breeze gently teasing her hair. Natanya continues, “You know that it’s…” It’s what? Kotex? Whisper? Carefree? Which might explain why Olivia’s so frosty towards the little girl throughout the song. “Girl, you gotta go through puberty first before you start singing about sanitary pads!” But no, it’s “…love at first light”.” (Alfian Sa’at)
Editor’s note: If Alfian objects to us stealing his note, we’ll take it down, ok?
Watch the original video here: