Rippin’ CDs

In a way, marking exam papers is calming. You have to abandon everything else and reject all appointments to just do one thing.

So it is meditative.

Besides the cats for company, I was also listening to music. When I got my MacBook Pro with its smaller SSD hardisk, I had chucked everything out. With my lecture files finally settled, there was space to rip my CDs back on again.

After such a hiatus, iTunes album management has improved lots and I found myself adding missing album covers last Saturday.

iTunes Albums Page 1

iTunes Albums Page 2

It was a journey back in time as I looked up art work. I recalled buying ABBA’s Super Trooper album for $3.50; with a Supreme (SR) label, and plonking a pretty penny for a Deutsche Grammophon cassette tape at Beethoven Record House. I think it was $14 – even more expensive than a Verbatim floppy disk then! I still have that tape somewhere.

And Naxos and its east European ensembles who did a great job, I still think. They all have wiki pages so its easy to read up about all this and the music pieces.

The best part, ironically, was when I was exhausted and needed a break. Then I sat back and just listened.

“What does the Fox say?”

I stumbled on this via the Wired article which examined fox vocalisations from a few audio libraries and then suggested the Norwegian duo Ylvis might not be that far off. Seriously, how magnificent is that?!

Whatever the conicidence, their “What Does the Fox Say?” music video is well embedded in my skull, since last week. I may not be the only victim, I think several of my friends are falling like flies, for the video is a viral hit.

I nearly asked my students “What does the Fox say?” several times during their Elevator Pitch practical on Monday for no real reason. I tried it on Tekong-resident Cheng Puay and he was floored.

In the video, I especially like vocalising grandpa.

Here’s the list of proposed sounds from the video, thanks to

  1. “Gering-ding-ding-ding-ringerdingering”
  2. “Wa-po-po-po-po-po-pow”
  3. “Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho”
  4. “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff”
  5. “Chacha-chacha-chacha-chow”
  6. “Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow”
  7. “A-hee-ahee ha-hee”
  8. “A-oo-oo-oo-ooo”

The Wired article [“What Does the Fox Say? The Viral Music Video Isn’t Totally Wrong,” by Devon Maloney., 06 Sep 13] found sounds by foxes (three species, including the red fox) in sound libraries which sounded close to:

  1. “Chacha-chacha-chacha-chow” (Vulpes vulpes, red fox)
  2. “Wa-po-po-po-po-po-pow” (Vulpes lagopus, arctic fox)
  3. “A-oo-oo-oo-ooo!” (Urocyon cinereoargenteus, common gray fox)

See also “What Sound Does A Fox Really Make?” By Dan Nosowitz. Popular Science, 05 Sep 2013. He suggests the red fox vocalisations to be “yow-wow-wow”, “ack-ack-ackawoo-ack”, and “YAAGGAGHHGHHHHHHAHHHH!”

Images below from and link to Wikipedia:




Hady Mirza sings “Hijau” with Zainal Abidin – ‘successes which will destroy us’

I learnt of Zainal Abidin’s Hijau through Alan Tan, Brunei’s International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator, while we were at AMETEC’s marine trash workshop in Korea.

I blogged about it shortly after in June – “The ozone is thinning and we still keep burning” – “Hijau” by Zainal Abidin (1990) [link]

Then YouTube unearthed none other than Hady Mirza singing “Hijau” with Zainal Abidin! How lovely!

“Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan (In recent days we are always celebrating)

Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan (Successes that in the end will destroy us)

Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran (What is the use of maturity of thinking)

Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda (when our souls remain infantile)

Dan mentah (and raw)

Ku lihat hijau (I see green)”

Others have asked before, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Chope4nature, one of two webpages debating the Cross Island LIne’s path through MacRitchie forests has highlighted the song. It is a question we ask ourselves often these days.

See all the lyrics at The Imperfect Mom.

“The ozone is thinning and we still keep burning” – “Hijau” by Zainal Abidin (1990)

As Singapore’s PSI exceed 150 tonight, eyes are tearing from irritation, but they should be shed for forests long gone, and repeatedly burnt in neighbouring Indonesia. reports that green groups have targeted Asia Pulp and Paper for its role in the destruction of forests and peatlands in Bukit Tigapuluh in Central Sumatra.

“APP’s activities threaten an important population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans as well as other at-risk species, including Sumatran tigers. APP plans to clear up to 200,000 hectares of Bukit Tigapuluh.”


South East Asia active fire areas in Google Earth (last 48 hrs) 20130617 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Active fire areas in South East Asia via Google Earth, 20130615-20130617 via @acroamatic

I was touched by a song I heard today. ICC Brunei Coordinator Alan Tan of Beach Bunch highlighted Malaysian singer Zainal Abidin’s song “Hijau” to me today (thanks bro’).

Zainal composed and sang the song way back in 1991, when he already asked “My fading world, Who sees you? By the time we realise, it might be too late.”

Zainal’s song is beautiful and should be heard by everyone.

Note that Abidin’s chorus is sung in his Kelantanese dialect! He’s a special guy.

Thanks to “The Imperfect Mom” for her lyrics and translation.

Hijau (Green) by Zainal Abidin (1990)

Bumi yang tiada rimba (A world without forests)
Seumpama hamba (is like a slave)
Dia dicemar manusia (she is polluted by humans)
Yang jahil ketawa (who only laugh ignorantly)

Bumi yang tiada udara (A world without air)
Bagai tiada nyawa (is a world without life)
Pasti hilang suatu hari (it will one day disappear)
Tanpa disedari (without realisation)

Bumi tanpa lautan (A world without the oceans)
Akan kehausan (will thirst)
Pasti lambat laun hilang (it will eventually vanish)
Duniaku yang malang (my unfortunate world)

Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan (In recent days we are always celebrating)
Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan (Successes that in the end will destroy us)
Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran (What is the use of maturity of thinking)
Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda (when our souls remain infantile)
Dan mentah (and raw)
Ku lihat hijau (I see green)

Bumiku yang kian pudar (My fading world)
Siapa yang melihat (Who sees you?)
Di kala kita tersedar (By the time we realise)
Mungkinkah terlewat (it might be too late)

Korupsi,opresi,obsesi diri (Corruption, oppression, self obsession)
Polusi,depressi,di bumi,kini (Pollution, depression on earth, now)

Oh …anok-anok (Oh, children)
tokleh meghaso mandi laok (will not feel how it is to swim in the sea)
Besaing,maing ghama-ghama (and play in it together)
Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto (this earth is millions of years old)
Kito usoho (we work)
Jauhke dari malapetako (to stave away disaster)
Ozon lo ni koho nipih nak nak aghi (the ozone is thinning and we still)
Keno make asak (keep burning)
Hok biso wei,pasa maknusio (poisoned by humans)
Seghemo bendo-bendo di dunio (all the things in this world)
Tokleh tehe (will not last)
Sapa bilo-bilo (forever)

“There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist”

“Shed a little light,” by James Taylor

“Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound”


Aimee Mann does a lovely rendition of the song in West Wing, but the full performance seems unavailable. Just the clip from the episode.

“Love of my life” (Queen)

Queen was an extraordinary band, and at Live Aid on 13 Jul 1985, amidst an array of star performers, they created their finest moment and the 72,000 Wembley audience sang, clapped and cheered with them throughout their 20 minutes.

Their set featured six of their songs in an almost seamless medley: Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, Hammer to Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions. Everyone realised that the unlikely Queen had stolen the show!

"Queen, their finest moment at Live Aid," by Peter Stanford. The Telegraph, 24 Sep 2011. Queen stole the show in front of a worldwide audience of two billion at Live Aid. Link

Queen would go on to perform the momentus Wembley concert in 1986. The videos are on YouTube and DVD and in this clip they are closing against Brian May's guitar rendition of "God Save The Queen" which the British audience sings to.

Brian May, an astrophysicist and animal rights campaigner, later plays "God Save The Queen" from the roof of Buckingham Palace for QE2's golden jubilee in 2002:

But it wasn't all electric guitar, here Brian coaxes beautiful tones with the mercurial Freddy at Queen's Wembley concert, playing "Love of My Life" as they always did together at concerts.

Freddie Mercury died in 1991. The loss was felt worldwide and back here in Singapore, at the Department of Zoology in NUS, grad student Christine Tan and myself turned up in black to mourn our loss. 

Brian May, who has said Freddie is in his thoughts every day, would dedicate "Love of My Life" to his now deceased lead singer in concerts around the world.

In this instance, he dedicates the song to Freddie's mum, present that night. May and the audience sing the song together, as they used to with Freddie:

In the comments, a fan who must miss Freddie very much, says, “I’m a grown man. Why am I crying? :O

Yes, Tanglish! “Why This Kolaveri Di” Youtube hit is the top song of 2011

I stumbled on this video on a facebook comment somewhere, Why This Kolaveri Di, and am tickled by the melody, rhythm and instrumentation.

This has raked up more than 30 millions hits on YouTube since it went up on 16 Nov 2011, obviously from India but also from Japan, amongst others. Described as “genre bending,” the song uses ancient south Indian folk rhythms, vocal styles and instruments. With everyone in the right mood, this was penned in minutes by a young composer who has decided to enjoy the success in case its his last! According to CNN, this title song for the upcoming movie “3” was the most popular song in 2011. It had featured in a flash mob performance in New Zealand and is being used to combat road rage in some parts of India and last I heard, the composer’s been invited to dinner by the Indian PM.

The lyrics were conjured up in a simple form of Tanglish (mixture of Tamil and English) – meant to depict a drunk boy singing about his rejection by his girlfriend; the title means Why This Murderous Rage, Girl? Oooh!

Wikipedia has the details and is quite well referenced.

BBC Radio discussed the hit, I think in the first week. Similarly, some of my non-Indian friends with their pulse on Indian movies and music knew all about this months ago. That’s genre bending enough for me.

Olivia Ong’s captivating rendition of “Majulah Singapura” from 2004

In 2004, an elegant eighteen-year old Olivia Ong sang our (Singapore’s) national anthem at the 2006 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifying rounds in Saitama Stadium. (Qualifying matches take place long before the actual world cup, hence the difference in dates. )

She had been in Japan since she was 15 and is a real tough cookie. Now 25, she has released at least four albums and I have at least two of those.

Well Ivan Chew and I only found out about her two years later through that now famous clip in which she sang and captured the hearts of many. We blogged about it enthusiastically but some time after, the youtube clip went MIA. A subsequent post I made in 2008 provided a new youtube video link but that too went dead.

I see people searching for Olivia’s rendition of “Majulah Singapura”, which typically happens close to National Day. There are now many copies out there including one I have filed away for safekeeping.

For this post, I present the first copy on YouTube that I found. Here you are folks, in preparation for National Day on 9th August 2011, our national anthem by Olivia Ong: