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Gentle Bones, Charlie Lim
Photograph: The Lynch AgencyGentle Bones and Charlie Lim

50 best local songs to have in your music playlist

From sixties rock 'n' roll to the genre-bending tunes of today, here's our pick of the crème de la crème of local music

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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Reality check: there's an endless pool of music beyond the mainstream chart, and this includes music from our Lion City. The debate on whether local music is 'good enough' has been going for decades but art is in the ear of the beholder. It's worth noting that there's a clear indication that the local music scene is thriving with a rising number of indie hits, pop bangers, dance anthems, R&B chart-toppers, and genre-mutating tunes by both seasoned and up-and-coming artists and bands getting major airplay time.

Plus, more music fans in Singapore are paying attention to the local music scene, contributing to the increasing demand. Besides music festivals and concerts, there are a number of live streams spotlighting homegrown musicians such as Hear65 Sing Along SG, From The Living Room, and Esplanade Offstage, so you can support local from home during the circuit breaker. To help you with your sonic discovery, we've selected the crème de la crème of local music.

RECOMMENDED: 7 local musicians that should be on your radar in 2020 and busking 101: An introduction to Singapore's busking scene

Only Yours by .gif featuring Bani Haykal
Photograph: Elias Soh

Only Yours by .gif featuring Bani Haykal

Five years since the indietronica duo’s lush record Soma, .gif returns this year with sophomore LP Hail Nothing which further explores the pair’s synth-driven soundscape, roped with their signature haunting vocals, sharp lyricism, sonorous beats and clever arrangements. Only Yours, featuring OffCuff and b-quartet member Bani Haykal, is a hypnotic intro track that brilliantly captures that.

Listen to Only Yours on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Geniuses and Thieves by Gentle Bones
Photograhp: Gentle Bones

Geniuses and Thieves by Gentle Bones

He has been heralded as Singapore’s Ed Sheeran when he first emerged with songs like Until We Die and Settle Down. But singer-songwriter Joel Tan, who goes by the moniker Gentle Bones, managed to break free from the comparison with his Geniuses and Thieves EP released in 2016. The title track has alternative R&B vibes written all over it – one of the The Weeknd-endorsed variety.

Listen to Geniuses and Thieves on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Better by Sam Rui
Photograph: Hear65/Sam Rui

Better by Sam Rui

The sultry songstress R&B’s honeyed vocals can be likened to UK R&B and soul singer Nao whom she shared the lineup at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in 2017. It was also the same year Sam Rui released Better, paired with a fiery, red-tinted music video. The lead single from her emotional and ethereal debut EP Season 2 makes a great post-breakup anthem to crank up the volume and sing along in your bedroom.

Listen to Better on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Zero-Sum by Charlie Lim
Photograph: Hear65/Charlie Lim

Zero-Sum by Charlie Lim

If there’s one singer-songwriter who’s showing zero signs of slowing down, it’s Charlie Lim. One of the punchier tracks off his 2018 record Check-Hook (a boxing reference – see what we did there?), Zero-Sum’s bass, and synths are laced with UK garage influences and pierced with Charlie’s maudlin crooning – and we’re all in for it. For something more stripped down, check out his latest collab with Gentle Bones, Two Sides.

Listen to Zero-Sum on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Mustafa by Yung Raja
Photograph: Yung Raja

Mustafa by Yung Raja

Don’t let the lack of instrumentals fool you – Yung Raja has a lot to say in his hit single Mustafa. Inspired by the 24-hour shopping behemoth in Little India, the track also introduces the alias Yung Mustafa, a sort of flashy, rich, and famous alter ego. Though tongue-in-cheek, the single upholds the rapper’s Tamil-speaking roots which he switches in between English bars. Listen out for references to popular Little India eateries like Muthu’s Curry and south Indian delicacies like thosai. Did we also mention that the music video has amassed over the last two years?

Listen to Mustafa on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Mirage by Sezairi
Photograph: Hear65/Sezairi

Mirage by Sezairi

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and so does the mirage painted in this pop tune. The pop tune started as a quick two-chord song which then blossomed into an irresistible three-minute track your dancing feet can’t resist even if they try. “I learnt that sometimes, when you uncomplicate certain things in your arrangement, it leaves space for other things to shine more. In the case of Mirage, it was the vocals, so that made me push myself [more]. I wrote the words without thinking much about the context and only after vomiting out the lyrics in quick succession did I realise what an emotional train wreck I was and how honest I got to be when I just stopped second guessing myself,” Sezairi tells us.

Listen to Mirage on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Kalah by Fariz Jabba featuring OmarKenobi
Photograph: Universal Music Singapore

Kalah by Fariz Jabba featuring OmarKenobi

It’s hard not to vibe to Kalah (‘lose’ in Malay), the brainchild of hip-hop trailblazers Fariz Jabba and OmarKenobi (who’s also one-third of Mediocre Haircut Crew). Rapped in both Malay and English, the unapologetic track is amped up with infectious synths, trap-inspired beats and witty bars, and is accompanied with a wacky music video.

Listen to Kalah on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Fallen Into Disuse by Wormrot
Photograph: Wormrot

Fallen Into Disuse by Wormrot

Arguably the biggest metal band in Singapore with a fanbase that reaches beyond Singapore – Wormrot made history as the first local band to ever play at Glastonbury Festival in 2017. That’s a mean feat for a band known for grindcore, a subgenre of extreme metal that combines speed, short and buzzy riffs, guttural vocals, blast beats and an “all-round angry sound”, as described by Arif Suhaimi, the vocalist of the group. And Fallen Into Disuse is a testament to that.

Listen to Fallen Into Disuse on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Thursday by Axel Brizzy & Marian Carmel
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Thursday by Axel Brizzy & Marian Carmel

Adlibs in between sharp yet choppy flows on top of incredible trap-laced beats, Axel Brizzy proves to be a man on a mission. Though his tracks sit between trendsetters, he does add some personal flavour by taking a page out of his role model Childish Gambino with singles like Thursday. Featuring the sweet tones of Marian Carmel, the R&B love song balanced things out with Axel’s slower take. “[Singing] is new for me, allowing me to step out of my comfort zone,” he tells us. Find a rapper that can do both.

Listen to Thursday on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

14 Grand by Ffion featuring Fauxe
Photograph: Ffion

14 Grand by Ffion featuring Fauxe

Ffion’s enrapturing voice has been blazing the local R&B scene, and her smoky track 14 Grand turns up the heat. Coupled with envelope-pushing, experimental hip-hop and freeform producer Fauxe – who recently released his album Ikhlas (a great WFH record) on vinyl under TAV Records – the single brilliantly captures an intricate relationship thanks to the sonic textures layered by the emotive vocals and deep beats.

Listen to 14 Grand on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Simple Kind of Life by iNCH
Photograph: iNCH/Henzy David

Simple Kind of Life by iNCH

This triple threat’s – or quadruple threat if you’re counting musician, actress, artist and co-founder of Invasion Singapore – electric 2017 single Simple Kind of Life from her 2015 Letters to Ubin EP craves for ‘em salad days. And its cheesy music video oozes with nostalgia – a blast to the past with its arts and crafts props, and old-school filters.

Listen to Simple Kind of Life on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Body Language by Tabitha Nauser featuring SonaOne
Photograph: Hear 65/Tabitha Nauser

Body Language by Tabitha Nauser featuring SonaOne

A follow-up to the R&B star’s debut single Bulletproof, Body Language saw a meteoric rise to the number one spot on Spotify’s SG Viral Chart within a week of its release. Written and produced by rap royalty SonaOne, the R&B-pop number spotlights self-confidence as well as the intricacies of intimate relationships. However, we’d suggest you check out the music video to better read the duo’s body language.

Listen to Body Language on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Keep Me Jealous by The Sam Willows
Photograph: The Sam Willows

Keep Me Jealous by The Sam Willows

Bitten by the mainstream bug, the poster child(ren) of local pop ditched their folk-hued sound in Take Heart for EDM-infused I Know, But Where to mark a new era for the quartet. After all, change is inevitable. Love it or loathe it, Keep Me Jealous’ The Chainsmokers-esque sound was made responsible by Fredrik Häggstam who co-wrote and produced the EDM duo’s single Paris. Together with the kaleidoscopic pop art aesthetics as seen in the music video which garnered over 300,000 views in three months, Keep Me Jealous undoubtedly highlights the technicolour dreamcoat worn by the trendsetting quartet.

Listen to Keep Me Jealous on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Yaya by TheLionCityBoy featuring Benjamin Kheng
Photograph: Clive/TheLionCityBoy

Yaya by TheLionCityBoy featuring Benjamin Kheng

What’s more Singaporean than branding yourself as TheLionCityBoy? Not only does Kevin Lester reps the Lion City as a rapper-producer, but he’s also on the scene as a local music activist. The hip-hop maverick has even made a name for himself at the 2013 SXSW in Austin and Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Partly inspired by his wife and muse Aarika Lee, the track is a play on the Singlish term ‘yaya papaya’. And with Benjamin Kheng lending his soulful vocal chops to it, you best bet Yaya is a fun play.

Listen to Yaya on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Fools & Liars by Bakers in Space
Photograph: Bakers in Space

Fools & Liars by Bakers in Space

These belligerent indie-rock spaceboys brilliantly reignite the flame of post-punk revival with fiery single Fools & Liars. Parallel to the sonic styles of Catfish and the Bottlemen and Royal Blood, the headbanging track is both invigorating and ingraining. It’s also a great introduction to the four-piece psych-rock outfit that churns out music that seems fitting with the band's name.

Listen to Fools & Liars on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

1057 by Jasmine Sokko
Photograph: Warren Tey

1057 by Jasmine Sokko

Pronounced as ‘lost’, the debut single of this masked, idiosyncratic electro-pop crooner received recognition beyond Singapore. And now, she’s one of the most-streamed local artists. A blend of euphoric synth melodies and Jasmine Sokko’s hypnotic vocals, 1057 is a track we reckon would get Grimes’ – or X Æ A-12 Musk’s – stamp of approval.

Listen to 1057 on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Girl by Sobs
Photograph: Sobs

Girl by Sobs

For a slice of dream-pop paradise, look no further than Sobs. The sparkling tune weaves real-life experiences, wild fantasies, and melancholy rom-coms together while bringing your attention to the ebbs and flows of guitars, drums and Celine Autumn’s dreamy vocals. Even American megastar Michael Bolton has described it as nice, pop and pleasant.

Listen to Girl on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Distraction by M1ldl1fe
Photograph: Jasper Tan

Distraction by M1ldl1fe

Formerly known as Take Two, the indie-rock quartet re-emerges as M1ldl1fe after guitarist Johnathan Lim’s departure. The catchy guitar riffs in Distraction are vaguely reminiscent of bands like Two Door Cinema Club, getting our two feet dancing right from the first note. The single also won Best Song To Bookout To in the 2019 Youth Music Awards. “It is heartwarming to know that our music keeps some of our servicemen company in these small moments of joy as they serve our nation,” the band beams.

Listen to Distraction on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Hawaii Kawaii by Forests
Photograph: Forests

Hawaii Kawaii by Forests

If the title of the song hasn't already piqued your interest, you'll be charmed by the band's lo-fi, low budget but endearing music video – shot in a public toilet. Off the second full-length album by the emo math-pop band, Kawaii Hawaii is delightful, emotional and a definite sing-along especially with the punchy chorus. Also, just another reminder to go watch the music video. 

Listen to Forests on Spotify, Bandcamp and YouTube.

Dive Into Me by Subsonic Eye
Photograph: Subsonic Eye

Dive Into Me by Subsonic Eye

Pushing the boundaries of their shoegaze-forged beginnings, the band made a conscious effort to shift their sonic presentation while retaining their signature dreamy sound. Taking notes from alt-rock trailblazers Sonic Youth – especially the used progressions and improv sections in their music – the quartet cleverly applies it to Dive Into Me. The band raves about the fun they have playing it live, and we can say the same about listening to it on maximum volume.

Listen to Dive Into Me on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Cool With It by brb.
Photograph: brb.

Cool With It by brb.

Put on your headphones and kick back with this cool tune that oozes chill funkified vibes. The silky smooth, intoxicating delight is off their 2020 album Relationsh*t, an echo of R&B, soul and funk influences shared by the supergroup consisting of Clarence Liew (Clo), Auzaie Zie (Disco Hue, and Thievves) and Marc Lian (Trick).

Listen to Cool With It on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Plastic Hearts by Disco Hue featuring Akeem Jahat
Photograph: Basil Tan

Plastic Hearts by Disco Hue featuring Akeem Jahat

This glittery smash by indie synth-pop outfit Disco Hue wears its plastic hearts on its sleeve. While having the Biggie Smalls-inspired rapper spit bars in this bright, bouncy jam is quite a contrast, it’s one that’s welcoming. The chemistry between the catchy melodies of Disco Hue and the rare English verses of Akeem Jahat is undeniable, giving us a groovy tune we can all dance to.

Listen to Plastic Hearts on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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All Of Our Friends Know by Linying
Photograph: Linying

All Of Our Friends Know by Linying

The face behind the wistful tunes and poignant words, Linying has premiered her first single on Billboard.com and had her song played at Coachella. And the soaring pop song that is All Of Our Friends Know features the vivid lyricism and the weightless dream pop effect that is synonymous with Linying’s artistry that has made waves around the world.

Listen to All Of Our Friends on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Doppelganger by Nicco Homaili
Photograph: Nicco Homaili

Doppelganger by Nicco Homaili

If you’re in need of some ambient music with heavy beats and bass spilling through your speakers, Nicco Homaili’s moody Doppelganger sets the tone. The genre-bending sonic journal entry of self-reflection is layered with tight synths and vocal textures a la new-school artists such as Amir Obe and Eli Sostre.

Listen to Nicco Homaili on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Manicenigmatic by Caracal
Photograph: Caracal

Manicenigmatic by Caracal

After a two-year hiatus, the post-hardcore stalwarts returned in 2018 to make some noise with a new lineup and EP, Take It Apart and Put It Back Together. The first single Manicenigmatic showcases the reinvention of the band along with the fresh vocal prowess of frontwoman Rachel Lu and the epic basslines of Trent Davis without stripping the core, raw sound that has been defined by drummer Martin Kong and guitarists Field Teo and Gabriel De Souza.

Listen to Manicenigmatic on Spotify and YouTube.

We Should Be Together by 53A
Photograph: Music For A Cause

We Should Be Together by 53A

This enthralling duet featuring two powerhouse vocals – the delicate notes of Sara Wee and gruff tones Bani Hidir – captured hearts with lyrics about conflicted love. The dreamy, romantic score is further elevated with Alvin Khoo’s guitars and Irwan Shah’s drums. It's a harmonious blend that’s needed in your love playlist.

Listen to We Should Be Together on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Wish U The Best by Yaø
Photograph: YAØ

Wish U The Best by Yaø

Yaø’s party-starters are a hybrid of pop, R&B, dance, and even city pop – he calls his music ‘Yaø pop.’ And together with crisp vocals, his self-produced house-pop numbers like Wish U The Best are dancefloor essentials. Who can say it better than Yaø himself: “I find music that has catchy melodies that sit well together with the beat especially danceable,” he shares with us.

Listen to Wish U The Best on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

One Fine Day by Shye
Photograph: Shye

One Fine Day by Shye

The breakout star started making waves in the local music scene when she was selected for Vans Musicians Wanted in 2018. The bedroom pop darling’s ethereal track One Fine Day comes complete with her dreamy Billie Eilish-esque vocals and light synth palettes. It’s also a track off her Augus7ine EP which was made in three weeks – all seven tracks were written and produced in her bedroom with an earpiece and microphone. “The process was extremely fun. Challenging, of course, because I didn’t really have anyone to ask for advice from. The whole music thing was relatively new to me as well and it all started because I was playing around with sounds on Garageband. Every day, I’d sit on the floor of my room writing and coming up with ideas for the different songs. The EP [is] extremely special to me,” she tells us.

Listen to One Fine Day on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Nomad by Abangsapau
Photograph: Universal Music Singapore

Nomad by Abangsapau

Need a crash course on cultural diversity in Singapore? New kid on the block, Malay-Sikh, hip-hop wunderkind Abangsapau fires up his bars with clever wordplay in different languages as well as sounds as heard in his latest single Nomad. A nod to Singapore’s Orang Laut, the textural and culturally rich track takes listeners on a sonic journey back to the 14th century.

Listen to Nomad on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Sunshine by The Pinholes
Photograph: The Pinholes

Sunshine by The Pinholes

Bring some sunshine to your playlist with this cheerful cut by Singapore’s answer to The Beatles – packed with tough guitar riffs, playful lyrics, catchy melodies and kaleidoscopic beats, no less. Paying homage to the timeless era of the 60s, Singapore’s very own Fab Four incorporates their campy, matching outfits with a feel-good blend of surf, pop, soul, and rock and roll that spell nostalgia.

Listen to Sunshine on Spotify and YouTube.

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More Than Just That Bass by Miss Lou
Photograph: Miss Lou

More Than Just That Bass by Miss Lou

There’s something extra nostalgic about Miss Lou. Combining doo-wop, swing and jazz with Old Hollywood glamour, Lou Peixin is vintage pop at its finest. Just from the title, More than Just that Bass, it might remind you of that Meghan Trainor song but it’s nowhere close. Instead, Miss Lou emphasises that everyone’s perfect in their own way – with or without a booty – in her feet-tappingly, uplifting track.

Listen to More Than Just That Bass on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

More Than You Know by The Analog Girl
Photograph: Julius Landau

More Than You Know by The Analog Girl

Take a break from the mainstream with Mei Wong’s alter ego The Analog Girl who has been in the business for more than a decade, brewing a hypnotic potion of synths and industrial sounds. Off her gritty Golden Sugar Crystals album, More Than You Know is an electronic dream pop blend of sweet lo-fi synths and tape recordings that has made its way to international airwaves including BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction with Nick Luscombe show.

Listen to More Than You Know on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Class A Love Affair by The Great Spy Experiment
Photograph: The Great Spy Experiment

Class A Love Affair by The Great Spy Experiment

The pumping guitar riffs and hooks, baselines, and drum beats in this Class A naughties classic is enough to ingrain itself into the teenage minds of those growing up in the decade which saw a surge of indie-rock bands such as Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. This energetic yet distinctive tune hits hard with its relatable lyrics about the insatiable yearning for someone when you’re head over heels.

Listen to Class A Love Affair on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

I Want You by Electrico
Photograph: Electrico

I Want You by Electrico

Another naughties smash, I Want You dominated the local mainstream radio and music charts for weeks. And it’s no surprise that the ultra-catchy chart-topper won them a COMPASS award, and even landed the pop-rock and indie outfit into the Austin music festival SXSW’s 2007 lineup.

Listen to I Want You on YouTube.

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Physical by Gareth Fernandez
Photograph: Gareth Fernandez

Physical by Gareth Fernandez

Following the footsteps of John Legend, Sam Smith and Adele, R&B crooner Gareth Fernandez is known to serve up smooth deliveries in songs like his 2019 hit Achilles. But if you’re itching to get grooving then get moving with Physical where the star finesse the 2014 single with his rich baritones, wicked falsetto and suave sensibilities of an old school R&B charmer.

Listen to Physical on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Landscape With A Fairy by Aspidistrafly
Photograph: Aspidistrafly

Landscape With A Fairy by Aspidistrafly

Known to celebrate beauty in the mundane, Aspidistrafly does it best with their signature brand of ambient folk. The ethereal and haunting single strings together delicate cascading sounds of the piano and violin, breathy vocals, and even samples of nature and indistinct mumbling. This transcendent track definitely takes you places without even moving from your comfy spot.

Listen to Fly on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Fly by Vandetta
Photograph: Rosalyn Lee

Fly by Vandetta

If there’s anyone who knows the ‘in’s and ‘out’s of the local music industry, it’s Vanessa Fernandez. Besides taking over the radio airwaves as 987FM’s DJ, the presenter has also made waves under the moniker Vandetta, whether with local hip-hop groups such as Urban Xchange and Parking Lot Pimp, veteran producer Jason Tan as indie-electronic duo Octover, or as a solo artist in lusher terrain. The sultry, bass-heavy tune Fly has a classic R&B feel to it which makes for a great listening delight from the seasoned veteran.

Listen to Fly on Spotify, Apple Music and  YouTube.

Find a Way by Plainsunset
Photograph: Plainsunset

Find a Way by Plainsunset

A classic in the local pop-punk scene, this Plainsunset single about not being able to get someone off your mind makes a great song to mosh to when you need a break from all those cheesy, pop love songs dominating the charts.

Listen to Find a Way on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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Desperate by Daphne Khoo
Photograph: Daphne Khoo

Desperate by Daphne Khoo

Giving you Michelle Branch vibes, this radio favourite – as well as the rest of the guitar-filled album of the same name – has Daphne Khoo written all over it. From the doll-like, nasally vocals to the cathartic release, Desperate was a smash hit that reintroduces the singer as a force to be reckoned with post-Singapore Idol.

Listen to Desperate on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Thinkin Bout Love by Nathan Hartono
Photograph: Leslie Kee

Thinkin Bout Love by Nathan Hartono

This local heartthrob goes beyond acting with music as charming as him – and we don’t just mean singing, either. The Berklee College of Music alumnus writes his own songs too. His feel-good jazzified number Thinkin Bout Love brilliantly showcases his knack for waxing melancholic melodies with emotive lyrics and turning them into something listeners can squeeze into their dancing shoes for.

Listen to Thinkin Bout Love on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

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On The Side Of Me or by Corrine May
Photograph: Corrine May

On The Side Of Me or by Corrine May

Another NUS and Berklee College of Music makes the list with an evocative number that bear similar traits to those by Sarah McLachlan and Sara Bareilles. With captivating piano notes and enchanting vocals of the voice behind 2010’s National Day Theme Song, this Corrine May single is easy-on-the-ears.

Listen to On The Side Of Me on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Starlight by Joanna Dong and Sezairi
Photograph: Joanna Dong

Starlight by Joanna Dong and Sezairi

Who better to rep Singapore in the Sing! China finals in 2017 than jazz chanteuse Joanna Dong? Besides her innovative covers and Mandarin songs, the artist is also notable for her duet with fellow Singapore Idol contestant Sezairi Sezali on the bilingual track Starlight for the SG50 music project, Sing, Love.

Listen to Starlight on YouTube.

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Sky’s The Limit by Taufik Batisah featuring Rui En
Photograph: Taufik Batisah

Sky’s The Limit by Taufik Batisah featuring Rui En

Don’t get it mixed up with National Day Parade favourite Reach Out For The Skies, the duo’s second collaboration peaked the 987FM chart for two consecutive weeks since its release in 2012. It further proves that the multi-hyphenated singer, actor, fried chicken joint owner, and now property agent lives by the song since his Singapore Idol days.

Listen to Sky’s The Limit on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

You’re the Boy by Shirley Nair & The Silver Strings
Photograph: Shirley Nair & The Silver Strings

You’re the Boy by Shirley Nair & The Silver Strings

Some old school to shake this list up – this maudlin pop record was no stranger in Singapore’s swingin’ sixties. The song has had countless airtime, primarily because local radio couldn’t get enough of Shirley Nair’s sweet vocals. You can’t take a walk down memory lane in Singapore without mentioning the legendary singer and The Silver Strings – check out this #SG50 promo video.

Listen to You’re the Boy on YouTube.

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My Lonely Heart by The Thunderbirds
Photograph: The Thunderbirds

My Lonely Heart by The Thunderbirds

Another major throwback, this mellow 60s jam is an original by one Singapore’s longest-running band formed in 1962, The Thunderbirds. It centres on the vocals of Harvey Fitgerald who co-penned the track with Gerry Pasqual as well as the slide guitar of Derrick Fitzgerals who used a comb to produce that distinctive guitar sound you hear.

Listen to My Lonely Heart on YouTube.

Fried Rice Paradise by Dick Lee
Photograph: Dick Lee / Facebook

Fried Rice Paradise by Dick Lee

This list isn’t complete without the 70s hit song by the man behind the music for movies, musicals and National Day, Dick Lee. The music veteran’s Singapore-esque pop tune – think Singlish lyrics – has even been immortalised in a feel-good musical as well as a TV series of the same name. When asked about his favourite fried rice spot in Singapore, he told us, “other than my late mother’s Nonya fried rice – which I now make at home – I love kampong fried rice from any prata shop.”

Listen to Fried Rice Paradise on YouTube.

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Within You’ll Remain by Tokyo Square
Photograph: Pixabay/Creative Commons

Within You’ll Remain by Tokyo Square

Let’s forget the cover or sample debate, and enjoy a throwback that’s oh-so nostalgic. This East-meets-West soft-pop one-hit-wonder was played on repeat in the 80s and a fraction of the 90s. From TV commercials to fun fairs, this undeniably irresistible track has somehow ingrained itself into our minds, automatically joining in at the chorus.

Listen to Within You’ll Remain on YouTube.

Circling Square by Humpback Oak
Photograph: Humpback Oak

Circling Square by Humpback Oak

The alternative folk-rock outfit first made its mark in the local music scene with its acclaimed debut album Pain-Stained Morning, featuring indie guitar-pop reminiscent of R.E.M. or Crowded House. The track that solidifies their status was the melancholic Circling Square, which led them to bag the Favourite Local Act and Critic's Choice awards in Singapore's Perfect 10 Music Awards in 1995.

Listen to Circling Square on YouTube.

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November 91 by The Padres
Photograph: The Padres

November 91 by The Padres

Singapore was defining their own brand of indie in the 90s and one of those pioneers is The Padres – frontman Joe Ng was even crowned ‘the Godfather of Singapore alternative music’. The alternative band dominated the music charts with youthful tunes loaded with punchy guitar riffs, energetic beats, and easy-to-follow lyrics like those in November 91.

Listen to Circling Square on YouTube.

Home by Kit Chan
Photograph: Kit Chan

Home by Kit Chan

We just had to. More than just a National Day Parade theme song, the patriotic ballad written by Dick Lee resonates with Singaporeans. Even a heartwarming video has been making its rounds on social media, in which 70 healthcare workers sing Home to lift the spirits of fellow Singaporeans during the global crisis. “I do get sick of singing some of my own songs, but not Home. It's a song that belongs to everyone,” Kit admits. 

Listen to Home on Spotify and YouTube.

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