S M Ong: If only Joey Mendoza had copied a National Day song no one remembers...
Indian composer Joey Mendoza withdraws claims regarding Count On Me, Singapore after MCCY probe
Dear Mr Joey Mendoza,
The Internet, right?
Here you are, living your life and making YouTube videos of your jaunty performances of Row Your Boat and other favourites, and out of the blue, some foreign government asks you to "substantiate" your claim that you wrote some song in 1983.
Who can substantiate anything they did almost 40 years ago?
The only thing I did then that I can substantiate is that I passed my O-level Chinese even though nobody can believe I did.
Fortunately, my O-level cert has not been destroyed in a flood, I mean, ponding.
Unlike all your evidence, which was supposedly lost in the 2005 Mumbai floods.
So you caved.
What happened to the living proof that is the 250 orphans you taught the song to in 1983? Floods again?
I believed you.
I thought maybe it really was a coincidence that in 1986, some ad agency paid to write a song by the Singapore Government more than 3,000km away came up with almost exactly the same melody and lyrics as your song, We Can Achieve.
You know what they say, a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually bang out the complete works of Shakespeare and, apparently, also the words to Count On Me, Singapore.
I didn't agree with my fellow Singaporeans who accused you of copying one of our beloved national songs composed by a Canadian working for an American company.
It's like accusing Weird Al Yankovic of copying Michael Jackson. If only you had a funny moustache and 5a Hawaiian shirt, people would have just thought you were doing a parody. You know, since you already have Weird Al's hair.
As evidence of your plagiarism, it was highlighted that in the chorus of We Can Achieve, the line "Count on me, India" does not rhyme with "Count on me to give my best and more" whereas "Count on me, Singapore" does.
I would point out that in the verse of both versions, "We're going to build a better life for you and me" does not exactly rhyme with "We can achieve, we can achieve" either.
So the lack of rhyme is hardly proof of song theft.
Also, if you are going to steal one of our National Day songs, couldn't you have stolen a better one, like the ever popular Home written by Dick Lee?
It's like robbing an Apple store and taking an actual apple.
Or if you were more cunning, you could have cribbed from a National Day song that Singaporeans don't remember, such as, uh… I can't remember any.
But trust me, there are so many. Let's just say any National Day song that is not Home and does not have "Singapore" in the title.
Then people might not have noticed your plagiarism.
But Count On Me, Singapore is way too obvious.
I feel like such a fool now for believing you. You are not my sunshine.
Ironically, thanks to your version and the controversy it created, the status of the song has been elevated somewhat, at least, in my mind.
I have always thought that it's a lame nationalistic jingle forced down Singaporeans' throats by our Government, but now that I have learnt that people in your country are also singing it (albeit as a children's song), maybe it's not so wretched after all.
As our Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth said, imitation is the best form of flattery.
That's what you've achieved with We Can Achieve.
So at least something positive came out of your copyright infringement.
Hey, did you write Row Your Boat too?