Songs of the Year: 2013 in 13 Tunes

Posted on January 6, 2014


Tesco's always lets you know when Christmas is over | foto@me

Tesco’s always lets you know when Christmas is over | foto@me

It’s already 6 full bleeping days into 2014 but I’m still not done with the awesomeness of last year.

Even in the spectacular mountain range of YESSSS! which I have been hiking since 2009, 2013 was a pretty outstanding peak. Wonderful moments are difficult to distill into neat little bullet points, but I’m going to have a go anyhow. So here are my 13 GreatShit Moments in 13 GreatShit Tunes, most of which were not actually released in 2013.

January: Homeward Bound from Shanghai to Singapore

Hello my love, it’s getting cold on this island

On January 1st, I flew home from Shanghai. It was really tough for me to leave Shanghai and come back to Singapore. I did get the Island Blues and felt miserable and lost for quite a while, because my Shanghai life was quite the bomb. But of course, The Spore is where The Home is: my family, old friends and of course my three absolutely gorgeous baby cats (who are really middle-aged men if their ages are translated into human terms).

Ignore the music vid about prozzies. Song #13 for me is about reconnecting and rebuilding. And I am glad I did that.

Koop, “Koop Island Blues”


February: Little Poofs of Word in ThePopFarted

oh yes let them begin the beguine
make them play

It’s pretty embarrassing to start a new blog when I don’t update my Poppony one very often. But even so, not all the stuff that I want to say can or should be set to music – I needed something else to accommodate my verbal diarrhoea about life, design, eco-projects and personal challenges. And so, ThePopFarted was born – another blog for me to write, another commitment to keep, and another tiny little online space for me to reach out to the world.

Obviously, I need to update a lot more often – hello, New Year’s Resolution! – but so far I’m glad it’s here in my life.

Mario Lanzo, “Begin the Beguine”

(Yes, yes, I know, Cole Porter, Artie Shaw’s clarinet yadda yadda I AGREE but this version has Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dancing!)


February: ThePoppourri Portfolio

Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it

Yeah, great, an EVENT in the year was setting up another website. Woohoo, whatalife. But really, putting together ThePoppourri was about putting together my portfolio, which is pretty fun but also scary to have to ask myself, ok what have I really done? Even now, the website is woefully incomplete, as there are more projects I haven’t loaded onto it. But at least I can tell it to Missy’s face: Yes it’s worth it. So I will keep working it.

Missy Elliott (50 Cent remix), “Work It”


March: Cuppycake Comes to the Tropics

My darling dear
Love you for all time

My very own little Earth Angel joined me from Shanghai, after a painful round of vet visits, paperwork, and self-induced anxiety breakdowns.

Marvin Berry & the Starlighters, “Earth Angel”


March – July: Design In-Turn

Tell me what the matter is, little man
I’ve got a pretty face and I wear a nice dress

After coming back from Shanghai, I made the decision to get into design. My dear aunt landed me an internship with a fantastic company, and I haven’t looked back since. But it was a pretty nerve-wracking decision – I had to turn down the offer of well-paying jobs and face the social embarrassment of being an intern at my age, especially after having already been promoted to management roles in previous jobs. I was often broke and sometimes felt sheepish telling people I was interning. But I was happy with my decision, and luckily there is an asshole living in my brain that always tells me to fuck what other people say and get over myself already. On that note, the Best Asshole in a Music Video Award goes to the “little man” in Wild Belle’s vid. Seriously? Watch.

Wild Belle, “Keep You”


March – September: Design Volunteering with Participate in Design!

It took me by surprise I must say,
when I found out yesterday

Marvin’s song title is especially apt, as I started volunteering with PID after seeing a mutual friend tagged in a photo on FB. I’ve written about the awesome experience working with them over on ThePopFarted. Now I no longer say “Huh what” when I hear the term “participatory design”.

Marvin Gaye, “Heard it Through the Grapevine” (Live at Montreux)


April to August: Curating Local Art in 137km North of the Equator

你难道不明白 为了爱

Curating this show with my dear friends and partners-in-crime Mr & Mrs J + CK Ang was a fabulous experience. Working with the über-professional folk over at Art Commune Gallery was a fabulous experience. Getting our show about Singapore’s realist painters into a full-page editorial on The Straits Times was a fabulous experience. (Online version) Most of all, meeting and interviewing some of Singapore’s pioneer artists – ye gods! – words fail me, so here’s a shout-out to them. No, we didn’t have a dramatic breakup. I just love this melodious, old-timey tune.

姚蘇蓉, “情人的眼淚” (with 李行 and 張美瑤 in the vid clip, I reckon)

If, by the way, you are crazy like we are, you can plow through our essay here.


April to September: She Works Hard for the Money

Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper!

So began my 7-day work week. I swotted at the design firm Monday-Friday, worked on the art exhibition in the mornings before work, spent my Saturdays with the PID folks and on Sundays, from 9am to 7pm, I… sold myself for sweet cash. More precisely, I sold my time. I had a lovely friend who introduced me to lovely kids whom I tutored in English. Money-wise, this was ironically the most profitable moment of my entire week, and luckily, it was enjoyable to boot. All 4 kids I tutored were fabby-doo. Bit o’ icing on the cake. Those days were definitely bumper-to-bumper, but I was absolutely dancing in the disco.

The Sultans of Ping FC, “Where’s Me Jumper?”


May: Going for Gold aka Masters in What Again?

She loves the free, fresh wind in her hair
Life without care
She’s broke and it’s oak

In May, I got accepted to Goldsmiths and decided to accept. It was terrifying at first – “I’m going to Goldsmiths to do a Masters in Design.” “Huh? Since when you know how to design?” Again, I was lucky to have super-nice parents and partner who were supportive of all my cray-cray. So far, so gold, but I’m gonna leave this one open, because the reel is still unfolding and this fresh-wind tramp don’t wanna jinx it.

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, “The Lady is a Tramp”


September: London-Ho!

Rule number one, be bright like the sun
Whether rude whether flawed like it’s just begun
Rule number one, be the only thing they see

Rule number two, do all you can do
Look them all in the eye and leave them to fly
Rule number two, be as bright as you can be…

Rule number three, forget where you’ve been
Cut your ties to the past and wave it goodbye
Rule number three, take anything you need

Pretty much sums up how I feel about moving to London in September and being in London. Londontown is dope-bombs.

Kele Okereke, “Walk Tall”



What I’ve got’s full stock
Of thoughts and dreams that scatter
Then you pull them all together
And how I can’t explain

The bro-dude is married. Like, what? Seriously? In October, my brother got married to an absolute sweetheart, and I think it’s fair to say that their dreams have come true. Luckily, with the aid of advanced air travel technology, I was delighted to be there to see it happen.

Hall & Oates, “You Make My Dreams Come True”

That music video, by the way, is a treasure. Daryl Hall’s blonde headsuit and John Oates’ pitch-tasche are glorious jewels.


October: Squishing-Squeezing-Squashing Myself into the London Scene

I cry just a little bit
Cry just a little bit.
I know it’s crazy and I don’t know why
But I die just a little bit

Ok, nobody’s actually crying or dying but YE GAWDS I certainly felt like it. One of my London resolutions was an absolute conviction to get involved in an art-or-design-related organisation beyond my school projects. Shanghai was so easy! There were opportunities as numerous as gobs of spit on the pavement. I thought that London would be much the same, but my goodness, it wasn’t. I thought I had a pretty decent resume, and sent out many, many enthusiastically ball-sucking letters to the tune of dead silence. What? I just could not believe it, and I must admit I got pretty distressed and anxious about not maximising my time in London. After the millionth deepsea trawl, though, I did finally get a reply from The Design CIC, an exciting outfit and now have a pretty cool project in the pipeline.

Shakin’ Stevens, “Cry Just a Little Bit”


December: Christmas & New Year Lost on the Road

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where
Don’t know when.
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do,
‘Til the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away

Despite my I’m-soooo-broke bleating, I decided to take a little road trip in the north of France. Man, was it worth it. I am glad I went – it awakened my wanderlust and reminded me of why I love to be on the road. It wasn’t as epic as my solo Southeast Asian sojourn, but it was a nice, quiet, peaceful and, most of all, reflective way to end the year.

Johnny Cash feat. John Frusciante, “We’ll Meet Again”


So there they are, my 13 Big Ones in 2013. This list doesn’t even cover all the little beautiful moments, the little sparkly stones on my pavement of ethically-mined gold. May 2014 be even madder than the maddest lib.