When the idea of honouring one of Singapore’s founding fathers, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was brought up during a casual conversation with church leaders one day, 19-year-old Dominic Chin decided to pursue the project immediately. He took three days to compose the song and enlisted the help of five friends to produce the video.
The result was the dulcet ballad “You first Believed”, a single recorded and made available on Youtube. “You First Believed” has since garnered more than 108,000 views and about 2,700 ‘likes’ in less than three weeks on the video-sharing platform since February 14 this year.
“We purposely wanted it to be viral – so we can capture people’s attention & hopefully Mr Lee’s attention as well,” Dominic said. “I think why it went viral because it was not the norm to love on him so publicly or the government; therefore it was different.”
A quick check by Vulcan Post showed that there are no other songs specifically written to celebrate the life of Mr Lee, except for one birthday rendition by Steven Lee. Moreover, “You First Believed” does not only establish Mr Lee as the first politician in the country with his own song; it also puts the former Singapore Prime Minister in the same league of great leaders such as the late Nelson Mandela with songs written to their names.
While the video’s viral run on Youtube has been exceptional – Dominic’s most-viewed recording to date ever since he joined the website in 2010 – he highlighted the obstacles that crept during its three-month-long production, going back to as early as when he was penning down the lyrics.
“Initially, it was a struggle. I tried writing as though I was writing a letter, but after much thought I gave up and decided to only write when the lyrics and melody does come to me. So throughout the day I just thought about the base of what he did, and what difference has it done to me and my peers,” Dominic explained.
The Republic Polytechnic student added that his team also had trouble gathering interviewees as part of the video. Dominic made lucid that he only wanted people who “carried the same heart as we do“. In “You First Believed”, a generous amount of video clips portraying Mr Lee’s impassioned speeches and messages of gratitude by youths were also showcased.
Online sentiment on the recording has been generally positive based on the number of ‘likes’ garnered on Youtube. However, it has also come under fire from some netizens, mainly on socio-political website The Real Singapore, who labelled him “naive” and a “bootlicker”.
Despite the newfound fame, Dominic was quick to point out the reason his team went all out to release the original – to honour Mr Lee when he is still alive.
“It was never about me, or how I will look. I believe that I really just had to honour the man, regardless. Mr Lee has done way more for us then we have for him,” he said.
“I also want my audience to emulate his determination and undying passion. You could tell from the video clips selected how passionate he was and how he made sure he fought his way through.”