Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eco Music Challenge

For the past couple of years, the National Environment Agency has been sponsoring a songwriting competition called the Eco Music Challenge. The competition asks people to submit original music with an environmentally friendly message, and individuals who participate stand to win big cash prizes and chances to perform. The winners of last year's competition performed on Wednesday at Timbre @ the Substation. As a member of a blogging club, I was asked to attend, and thought a night of live music sounded like a lot of fun!

Having never been there before, it took Bryan and I awhile to find Timbre. We found the Substation so knew we were close, but we couldn't see any sign of a place called Timbre. It turned out to be down a small alley, behind the Substation. Geez! Anyway, the music started later than expected so it was no big deal that we were a little late. And we got goodie bags! I have to admit...I had to question why they gave out goodie bags of stuff we didn't really need. Did Bryan really need a copy of Seventeen magazine? Isn't it a little bit counter to the eco-friendly message to hand out unnecessary stuff?

Anyway, I liked the venue quite a bit. Timbre @ the Substation is mostly outdoors and covered by a tent, with a bar on one side and a stage on the other. It reminded me a lot more of places I've been in the U.S. than places I've been in Singapore, possibly because we saw a lot more live music in the U.S. than here.
Timbre @ the Substation

We munched on some snacks while we waited for the music to begin. The performers were the winners of the 2010 Eco Music Challenge. The first guy up turned out to be one of my favorites of the whole evening. He performed a song composed by Haramain Osman called Heaven on Earth, which was (confusingly) also the name of the song that won last year. I took a video, but it turned out to be pretty low-quality. You can hear 30-second previews of all the top songs from last year here. The next performance was interesting because it was a whole band, and their song was performed in Chinese, which I thought was pretty cool even though I had no idea what they were saying!

There were a  few more performances, but for me the highlight of the night was the winner of the 2010 challenge. The song was "Heaven on Earth," composed by Kathryn Cheng and Rafaee Mahmood. It was performed by Jill-Marie Thomas, the winner of the local TV talent show One Moment of Glory. The song was good, and Jill-Marie Thomas has a great voice. I took a video of it but unfortunately it didn't turn out very well either. The video below is from the Clean and Green Singapore campaign, which used the song as their theme this year.

After Heaven on Earth, Thomas did a cover of Katy Perry's "Firework," which was also really good.
Jill-Marie Thomas performing Firework

One thing I didn't like was that it was hard to tell who was singing the songs. All of the stuff about the music challenge lists the composers of the music, but not the performers, who were often different from the composers. The composers obviously worked hard and did a great job, but I thought the performers deserved a little credit too. Anyway, overall it was a nice night. I have to admit that when I first heard about the Eco Music Challenge, I thought there was a pretty good chance that the songs would all be kind of cheesy, and it might turn out to be a whole evening of listening to reimaginations of Kumbaya. But the songs were much better than I expected - for the most part, the environmentally friendly message came through without sounding forced or hokey.

If you're the musical, creative type and you want to compete for lots of money (first prize is SGD $5000), you can enter this year's Challenge yourself, just follow this link. Submissions are due June 20, so don't procrastinate!


  1. I think the one performing Firework is Jill-Marie Thomas. She won the tv talent show OMG (One Moment of Glory) and she is good!

  2. I THOUGHT her name was Jill Thomas! Bryan laughed at me and said I misunderstood the announcer, hahaha. Thanks Tei!

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