My first trip to Singapore came after the first 2 months of our stint in China. I will never forget riding in from the airport in a nice clean cab with seatbelts and looking out over the neatly manicured landscape and hearing the dulcent tones of REO Speedwagon on the car radio. I had no doubt Singapore was a different world and, for whatever reason, the easy-listening favorites that punctuated that first cab ride highlighted the difference.
Upon returning to Singapore I wondered if my impression of the place as decidedly different from China and a city-state run “as a tight ship” would persist when I wasn’t drawing upon a rough couple of months of culture shock as the basis of comparison. And most importantly, was the soundtrack of Singapore really made up of 70s, 80s and 90s ballads?
It turns out that it is all true, most particularly the music. This matters because I absolutely love cheesy ballads (I grew up on that stuff since it was what my mother listened to and what was playing on the radio at the restaurants I started working at under the table at age 12) but rarely have the opportunity to hear them or, unless you count glee radio, take the time to listen to them. Yet in the past few days I have been treated to a treasure trove of lost gems. Here are just a few of the choice tunes I’ve come across:
- If (Bread) heard on the Singapore River Cruise
- I Want to Know What Love Is (Foreigner) heard in line for said River Cruise
- Every Breath You Take (Police) heard in hotel lounge
- Arthur’s Theme (Christopher Cross) heard in cab
- The Gambler (Kenny Rogers) heard in cab
- Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (Carpenters) heard in drugstore – I only know this one because when I was 12 I had the Carpenters Greatest Hits. I don’t believe I have ever heard it broadcast before.
- I’ll Be Your Hero (2 be 3) heard in cab
- Wherever You Go (Richard Marx) heard in the local equivalent of Navy Pier
While some folks may find the mu-zack of Singapore annoying, it all contributes to my feeling of enjoyable unreality. My kids are only annoyed by the way I keep breaking into song. But, I mean, really, how can you not belt out the chorus of “Loved You Before I Met You” when you have the chance?