After weeks of tweaking, practicing and competing, who among the 12 finalists of the NEA Eco Music Challenge 2012 bagged the top prize? The honour went to musician and songwriter Shaun Jansen who, along with his band Supernova, impressed the judges with his catchy track “The World Needs Help”. He’ll receive S$5,000 in cash.
On top of that, “The World Needs Help” will also become the theme song of Clean & Green Singapore 2013.
The finale concert was held on the 25th of August at The Cathay. Aside from guest performances by artistes Jack & Rai and Juz B, a prize from Sony was given away to the lucky voter who envisioned the winning song.
Timothy Thomas and Hiroshi Kondo were named the first runners-up with their song “Gonna Make It Right”. (Thomas actually predicted they’ll be in the top three.) Meanwhile, Chloe Chia and Evan Low were the second runners-up with their tune “Yours And Mine”. The teams won S$3,000 and S$2,000 respectively. National Environment Agency CEO Andrew Tan was on hand to present the awards to the winners.
The finalists this year made up quite an interesting and talented mix: There’s mum Barizah Abu Bakar, whose kids performed her composition “Because Of You”. You also have piano teacher Jessica Irawan with “Tell Our Story”, and audio engineers Kenneth Yong and Jarrell Koh with “Mother Earth”. “This Is Our Paradise” songwriter Gao Xilinnayi is only 14 years old.
All of them went through a mentorship programme under the different Eco Music Challenge judges: music veterans Clement Chow and Jack Lim, singer-songwriter Jack Ho of Jack & Rai, and InTune Music School producer and accomplished composer, Peng Chi Sheng.
These judges took their role of mentor to heart. Both Jacks’ favourite moment was when the winner was announced. “I mentored them [Shaun and the band], so it was special for me. They were very comfortable onstage and they engaged the audience,” says Ho.
Adds Lim: “They moved me a lot. They looked like champions and they were really good. The song goes well with the whole performance.”
“Every moment was magical – from the day you meet the bands, to when they go through the mentorship programme and you see them go onstage and deliver,” relates Chow. “Selecting the winners was very difficult. The judges had various opinions, though we had the same ‘groups’ and it was a matter of who was first, second and third. The winning team had the overall package: The message was there, the look was there, the musicianship was there.
“The last two years, [the entries] were very ballad-y. Now there’s pop and jazz and so much variety. The song [‘The World Needs Help’] was radio-playable and commercially reachable.”
Both Ho and Lim can’t wait to see a new crop of songwriters and entries. “It’s great to see people writing more good melodies,” says Ho. “We need to see more people,” shares Lim.
“To get people [to join] is always a challenge. But the process of awareness is there: [The competition] makes people aware, it makes them excited and it makes them [want to] participate,” says Chow.
What’s next for Jansen? The 27-year-old – who admits it took him a couple of days and phases to write “The World Needs Help” – says the band (Supernova) has a Facebook page up where people can check out new songs. What will happen to the prize money? “I’m sure we’ll have some discussions,” he quips.
For now, he hopes his “green” song resonates with listeners. “Being ‘green’ [cannot be achieved] with one person’s efforts, but everybody’s.” That to help save the earth, “at the end of the day… we have to work together.”