Designed by: Poh En Xi (20-E3)
The modern music scene is a blast — but sometimes, we just want to let ourselves be washed away by waves of nostalgia. It was this temptation to revisit timeless hits that inspired this list of our favourite retro songs. While you scroll through this ‘ancient’ time capsule, do consider asking those around you if they have ever heard these songs! The results might surprise you…
Uptown Girl (Westlife version) – Westlife
Teen Pop/Dance Pop
“Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh…” If you do not hear this line in your head, have you even heard of this song? This classic by Irish Boy Band Westlife was one of the first few songs I heard from Westlife, and I absolutely fell in love with its catchy tune and sweet melody of the above line. For a modern pop twist in a retro song, Uptown Girl is indeed a good balance of both the old and new.
Waterloo – ABBA
History references aside, this track has been one of my favourites when I was younger. Given its upbeat rhythm, “Waterloo” was a song that my whole family could dance and sing to! This was especially so since my grandparents and parents both grew up in a time when ABBA’s songs were still popular. If you happen to be in search of songs that all 3 generations could enjoy then you are certainly in luck — “Waterloo” is one of the best options out there!
September – Earth, Wind & Fire
Infused with jazz and funk, this song is nothing short of a retro classic. Originally released in 1978, many fans still find it an impossible task to not dance to ‘September’. It could be because of the unique groove, or maybe it is the light tone of the song that just makes one feel so carefree and giddy. Whatever the reason is, it is clear that this song need not only be enjoyed on the 21st of September. Do have fun dancing to this addictive melody!
Rhythm Nation– Janet Jackson
Released in 1989, the song utilizes an upbeat tempo that will rouse listeners to up and dance! Not only is its tune infectious, it also drives home a very important message that was incredibly relevant (and still is) at the time of its release. The song’s socially conscious lyrics preach inclusivity and denounce racism and bigotry. It finishes off with the artist urging listeners to sing with her, which serves as a rallying call to everyone to emphasise how the world and its people should be united instead of divided. It also advocates the importance of communities standing in solidarity against intolerance.
人生路 – 张蓉蓉 (Life Journey — Zhang Rong Rong)
Remember the popular early 2000s Taiwanese show “神機妙算劉伯溫”? Its theme song had been sung aloud by grandparents and young children alike, being simple in tune and having catchy, motivational lyrics. In fact, its popularity does not pale in comparison to well-known favourites like “我問天”. Blast this song at home, and you might soon enjoy a joyful session of Chinese karaoke with your parents or grandparents.
走馬燈的愛情 – 張蓉蓉 (Streets Of Love — Zhang Rong Rong)
Another hit from the classic television show “神機妙算劉伯溫”, this Taiwanese tear-jerker reminds us all of the times when our favourite heroines are forced to be apart from their star-crossed Prince Charmings. A little spoiler here: the main character and his partner underwent many turmoils throughout the course of the show. Listen to it after you watch, but I won’t be responsible for your tears…
Confessions of a Broken Heart– Lindsay Lohan
A song that narrates the heartbreaking backstory of the Mean Girls star, this song is the highlight of the short-lived music career of the tabloid queen. It hits hard, especially at the point where the poor actress screams “why’d you have to go”, knowing that the star was indeed facing certain troubles during that period of time.
Zunea-Zunea – Cleopatra Stratan
The sweet and lyrical voice of young Cleopatra Stratan, who was five at the time, would definitely melt the coldest of ice-cold hearts. It is no wonder that the Romanian star became one of the youngest people to achieve commercial success as a singer. Written by her father, Cleopatra’s uplifting song is sure to lift your mood, even on the darkest of days.
Where is the Love? – Black Eyed Peas
Released 2 years after the 9/11 attacks, and the rivalry between the infamous gangs – The Bloods and the Crips in the 1960s, this song was wrote as a social commentary about the bloodshed and chaos the world had transcended into with the rise of terrorism. The powerful inquiry in the opening and chorus of the song ‘what’s wrong with the world, Mama?’ and later ‘where is the love?’ signifies the unprecedented violence that had challenged the world at that time. Black Eyed Peas later remade the song in 2016 following the onslaught of terrorist attacks, the ongoing Syrian crisis and many more — a call for empathy in a world with growing complexities.