Slay Bells Ring (Or Not): Our Honest Take On Singapore Christmas Songs
"All I Want For Christmas Is You" is probably the first thing you think of whenever someone mentions Christmas music, but don't sleep on these uniquely Singaporean Christmas songs by our local musicians and artistes!
We look at some of these original compositions and share our thoughts:
I’m Gonna Be Loved This Christmas - The Sam Willows
Diane: “You dreamed of snow but you were born where snow is on TV.” Relatable. Simple and sincere, this song captures the classic Sam Willows’ sound while weaving in the sweetness of the ITE Show Choir’s vocals. The melody isn’t as catchy as I’d like it to be for a Christmas song, but the line about dancing around a tree “made of rocks and sticks and fantasy” was a pretty touching reminder that Christmas doesn’t have to be elaborate or IG-worthy.
Janelle: This song has a cosy, almost nostalgic feel. The melody is sweet, and the lyrics evoke the magic of simple things. It makes me feel like I’m having the sort of Christmas you see in storybooks, sitting in front of a crackling fire with family and friends.
Christmas In My City - Miss Lou
Diane: Not only is this one of the more Singapore-centric songs on this list, but it is probably the most Christmassy-sounding one, thanks to Miss Lou’s jazzy vocals. “I don’t need a mistletoe, I’m just as happy with a warm bowl of mee soto” made me chuckle - call me suaku but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sprig of mistletoe IRL. Then again, I’ve never eaten mee soto on Christmas either (sorry Miss Lou, but mee soto + Christmas = no feels), so even though I can’t really relate to “White Christmas”, I can’t quite relate to this song either.
Janelle: This one is a miss for me. The lyrics are kind of a mouthful (“equatorial plight”, for instance), and the melody sounds too much like every other jazzy Christmas song out there, making it rather forgettable.
Christmas in Singapore - 53A
Diane: “We’ve never had a white Christmas except at Snow City…” Is it just me or are the lyrics of this song kind of a downer? Most of them convey what we don’t have, but the song doesn’t really celebrate what makes Christmas here special. IDK, as someone who’s spent Christmas in both warm and cold countries, I can agree that Christmas in winter has “cosy feels”, but tropical Christmases are totally underrated. (Holiday barbecues, anyone?)
Janelle: Agreed, this song is more about what Christmas in Singapore isn’t rather than what it is. And the melody doesn’t really resonate with me either. It starts out sounding almost mournful, and the rest of it is rather bland. I almost couldn’t finish listening to it.
Lights of December - Clement Chow and Friends
Diane: “This sounds exactly like an NDP song,” I said aloud, before checking the credits and realising that this is performed by Clement Chow of “Count On Me Singapore” fame. I’m just glad that this one doesn’t contain any references to our lack of wintry weather.
Janelle: This is a more sombre Christmas song, but I’ll give it a pass on that considering it was released in 2020, back during the height of Covid. The vocals are nice despite the subdued melody, but I’m not a fan of the spoken word part near the end. It comes across as too jarring to me.
Merry Summer Christmas - Desmond Tan
Diane: Okay, Singaporean singers. We get it. Christmas in Singapore is hot. While this song is pleasant enough, aside from the references to Christmas, it sounds like any other Mandopop ballad.
Janelle: I’m gonna be honest… I didn’t understand a word of this song (My Chinese is terrible). That said, I agree that the melody sounds like a generic Mandopop ballad, and from the title I can guess the lyrics are (yet again) about our lack of snow.
Diane: You’re right, there’s a reference to our lack of snow in the second verse, but I like how the chorus makes a point that love makes a Christmassy atmosphere possible during any season.
I Love You, Christmas - Northwoods and Haneri
Diane: I almost closed the tab when I heard the first line of this song - “I always wished for snow” - but I’m glad I gave this indie RnB-inspired ditty another chance because it ended up being my favourite on the list. Heartbreak and yearning are some of my favourite motifs in a Christmas song, and what can I say, I’m tired of hearing “Last Christmas” for the thousandth time this month.
Janelle: This sounds more like a breakup song than a Christmas song. Depressing lyrics, mournful melody… no thank you.
Winter’s Day - Shirley Ho
Diane: Eh. All I’m going to say is that this is the kind of thing I’d be listening to if I were spending Christmas Day alone in my house.
Janelle: First there’s too many songs about how hot it is in Singapore, now there’s one about winter for some reason. Also, no offence to the singer, but the way she sings the lyrics detracts from the quality of her voice.
This Christmas - Jack & Rai
Janelle: Not a fan of the tune; it’s halfway between forgettable and downbeat. And the lyrics make it more like a love song set during Christmas than a proper Christmas song.
Diane: I was pleasantly surprised upon clicking this to find that it’s an original and not a cover of the Donny Hathaway classic. I wish the production of the song felt a little more Christmassy, but it’s upbeat enough for a holiday pop song.
Santa in Singapore - Jonan
Diane: Okay, THIS is the most Singaporean song on the list, thanks to its references to HDBs, the MRT, the 5 Cs of Singapore, and even PSLE scores. I dig everything about this tune, from its super localised lyrics to its jaunty, showtunes-inspired melody.
Janelle: This is a nice one. Very Singaporean lyrics, and hilarious to boot. And the melody is snappy and catchy. Definitely my favourite on the list.