Chinese New Year woes captured in Singapore song

Jeanette Tan
Singapore Showbiz
21 January 2013

Ang Weixuan, Tan Siling and Jonathan Liang are three-fifths of The Animal Parade, a local band that is focused on producing local-themed original songs. (YouTube screengrab)
Ang Weixuan, Tan Siling and Jonathan Liang are three-fifths of The Animal Parade, a local band that is focused on producing local-themed original songs. (YouTube screengrab)

"Ah Soh, Ah Chek, Ah Sim, Ah Pek..."

When you're in your early- to mid-twenties or older, and still single, the prospect of meeting one's aunts and uncles proves a decidedly daunting task -- one that human resources executive Tan Siling understands all too well.

The 24-year-old, who has been writing songs since her early teens, was so inspired by the "pressure" single girls feel that she spent two days penning the lyrics to A Family Line, a Chinese New Year (CNY)-themed song that was later performed by an all-Singaporean band she is a part of, The Animal Parade.

"CNY is looming for most girls out there, and it's a topic that often surfaces during conversations with family and friends," she told Yahoo! Singapore.

Her idea for the song came after a friend described the "vicious cycle" faced by women in a nutshell: boyfriend, marriage, baby, second baby.

The rest of the process took place over about two weeks, with recording taking place over two weekends and the shooting of a hilarious music video taking up a full day.

The video starts with Tan and her real father, who nags her about not having a boyfriend. Each chorus involves her getting screamed at by concerned aunts and uncles (referred to in dialect terms as "Ah Soh, Ah Chek, Ah Sim, Ah Pek"), until she gets a boyfriend, gets proposed to, sings about getting married and having a baby -- all within the span of about five and a half minutes.

"The storyline was very impromptu, totally spontaneous," said Tan. "The boys are hilarious to watch on a regular basis, so make-up and wigs really upped it 10 notches. I struggled to keep a straight face while filming," she added.

Four of the five people who make up The Animal Parade: (from left to right) Jonathan Liang, Tan Siling, Kennick Kek and Kelvin Tan. (YouTube screengrab)
Four of the five people who make up The Animal Parade: (from left to right) Jonathan Liang, Tan Siling, Kennick Kek and Kelvin Tan. (YouTube screengrab)

As the rose among the thorns -- the other "paraders" being medical sales representative Kelvin Tan, banker Kennick Kek, and undergraduates Ang Weixuan and Jonathan Liang -- Tan plays the picture of a typical harassed female Singaporean 20-something, and Liang and the male Tan gamely cross-dress as aunties, with Liang even employing his falsetto for some mock opera singing.

"You've got to have self-confidence to pull a stunt off like that in public, man," the female Tan quipped. "Armpit hair has never made waves on YouTube the way it did in our video. We are very happy with the way things turned out!"

The band roped in their friend, Shian Wen, who helped with shooting and editing, and Ang's mother, who did professional make-up (complete with false eyelashes) for the boys.

Tan's father, whom she says has been encouraging them to put their original songs up on the video-sharing platform, excitedly practiced his Hokkien script in the days leading up to the shoot, where he appears with her in the first scene.

"We're really happy and thankful that our parents are really supportive of what we do," she added.

The video has gained pretty impressive traction, racking up more than 9,000 views and 180 likes on YouTube since it was first uploaded in the middle of last week.

"We're quite overwhelmed by the support we've received," she said, adding that it came in part from relatives who shared it enthusiastically, and in particular from friends who took to social media to spread it far and wide.

"We have countless friends... telling us how much they like the video, (and) we're very touched and thankful. At work, my bosses have even shared the video with my entire department; it's crazy, and we're still processing all of it!" she added.

Asked if they've got plans to take this further, Tan said they're already working on "a few more similar local-themed songs" that they're looking forward to producing and sharing.

"We definitely have more singles and more yet-to-be-filmed videos up our sleeves, and we hope to use our material to make people laugh," she said, adding that recording albums or selling their songs isn't yet on their minds.

"I think our songs are written by Singaporeans, for Singaporeans. We may not be the best musicians on the island, but we're staying true to who we are."

Watch the song here:

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