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From otter splashes to relationship ashes: Here's a Taylor Swift song for some of Singapore's biggest recent events

Explore Singapore's recent headlines through the lens of Taylor Swift's music

Taylor Swift at her Melbourne concert and President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Singapore FinTech Festival. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Taylor Swift at her Melbourne concert and President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Singapore FinTech Festival. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The beauty of pop icon Taylor Swift is that she seems to have a song for everything — from the stirring of the heart with a new hot connection (Sparks Fly), to heart wrenching breakups (Dear John), to friends falling out (Bad Blood), and even friends having a good time (22).

With the global superstar set to perform on our shores real soon, we figured it might be an opportune time to take a look down Singapore’s memory lane (and Mother’s discography) and dedicate a song from her expansive work to some of our country’s recent biggest events.

Are you… ready for it?

Leon Perera and Nicole Seah

  • Song: Illicit affairs

  • Album: Folklore

In July 2023, Workers’ Party members Leon Perera and Nicole Seah were embroiled in controversy as news of their affair emerged following a viral video showing them holding hands at a restaurant
In July 2023, Workers’ Party members Leon Perera and Nicole Seah were embroiled in controversy as news of their affair emerged following a viral video showing them holding hands at a restaurant. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Getty Images)

A track that took on a different life of its own since The Eras Tour with Swift’s anguished belting of its bridge, Illicit Affair — as is clear by the name — is about someone wanting to maintain their affair.

In July 2023, news broke that Workers’ Party members Leon Perera (former MP of Aljunied GRC) and Nicole Seah had an affair after a viral grainy video clip of them holding hands at a restaurant surfaced.

Though the song speaks of starting out in “beautiful rooms” and eventually ending with “meetings in parking lots”, Perera’s driver alleged that the duo had met in hotels in the Orchard and Tanglin area.

Fun fact: many Swifties believe that this song is inspired by the hit television show Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw was engaging in an affair with Big.

After all, Swift is known to be a big television fan and named two of her cats after television characters Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy) and Olivia Benson (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).

Anyway, this was just the first of two (high) infidelity cases to drop in one day because next on the list is…

Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui

  • Song: I Can See You (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)

  • Album: Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui resign from Parliament and the People's Action Party. Their resignations were announced by the Prime Minister's Office on Monday (17 July)
Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui resign from Parliament and the People's Action Party. Their resignations were announced by the Prime Minister's Office on Monday (17 July) (PHOTO: Getty Images/PAP website)

At the same time the bombshell of Perera and Seah was dropped, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released a statement over the resignation of politicians Tan Chuan-Jin (former Speaker of Parliament) and Cheng Li Hui (former MP of Tampines GRC).

It was later revealed that they had engaged in an “inappropriate relationship” and continued it despite counselling from PM Lee.

Of course, TikTok content creators worked swiftly, stitching photos of the news and both politicians in reels set to the tune of I Can See You. It’s not clear why they immediately attributed the song to the affair, but the lyrics might provide a hint.

The song’s narrator sings about their desire for someone they’ve “been watching for ages” and how they “spend my time trying not to feel it”. There’s also talk of “watchful eyes” on them as the song questions what would happen “if they never found us out”.

However, we never got as much detail about Tan and Cheng’s affair (compared to Perera and Seah’s), so the question remains - who was the “addiction” and who was the “secret mission”?

SimplyGo ‘judgment error’

  • Song: Back to December (Taylor’s Version)

  • Album: Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat acknowledges a
Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat acknowledges a "judgment error" by authorities in phasing out older public transport payment cards for adults, citing an underestimation of commuters' preferences for viewing fare information and card balances. (CHT/FB and Getty Images)

A transition that has been years in the making was shelved after public outcry over problems faced in attempting to upgrade the card, and the inability to see your balance at the fare gate.

Of course, we’re referring to the SimplyGo announcement on 9 Jan.

Standing at the frontlines of all this was Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat who apologised for the “judgment error” and committed to learning from this incident and doing better. And, just this week, we learnt that new card-based ticketing public transport payment cards will be made available... which will show the balances at the gantries.

As for why we picked Back to December? It’s her most iconic apology song that’s supposedly about former flame Taylor Lautner.

‘Senator, I’m Singaporean’

  • Song: Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)

  • Album: 1989 (Taylor’s Version)

 TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (PHOTO: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The grilling of Singaporean TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi over ties to China drew brickbats as it left locals wondering if, after all this time, Americans might still not be aware of what/where Singapore is.

In the viral clip, a US senator can be seen asking Chew questions such as whether he has applied for Chinese citizenship or if he holds a passport from any other nations. Bear in mind, this wasn't the first time Chew had to endure questions from US politicians that would make any other person roll their eyes.

Chew repeated replies of “I’m Singaporean” and elaborating that he served his required military service here tickled many.

At one point, the senator asked if he has ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party and Chew looked mildly amused before replying, “I’m Singaporean, no.”

Though the US politicians are probably just doing their due diligence, we also can’t help but wonder, “Is It Over Now?”

Singapore Presidential Election 2023

  • Song: End Game

  • Album: Reputation

Tharman Shanmugaratnam gestures to supporters after polling has concluded during the presidential election on 1 September 2023.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam gestures to supporters after polling has concluded during the presidential election in Singapore on 1 September. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

The Presidential Elections garnered quite the buzz, and not just because of beloved politician Tharman Shanmugaratnam tossing his hat in the ring. The other candidates, Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian, also provided plenty of content for the media and Singaporeans to sink their teeth into.

But, was there ever any doubt that Tharman would eventually win? After all, his popularity has always been consistent and there were even calls for him to be our next Prime Minister.

Though those people didn’t get what they wanted, Tharman is now the President of Singapore (a position he won with a landslide victory), and maybe that is the End Game we deserve.

Chen Yixin and Gavin Teo

  • Song: Red (Taylor’s Version)

  • Album: Red (Taylor’s Version)

Local celeb couple Chen Yixin (left) and Gavin Teo have gone their separate ways.
Local celeb couple Chen Yixin (left) and Gavin Teo have gone their separate ways. (Photos: Instagram/chxnyixin, Instagram/gavinchongzhe)

Before you set the Facebook comments alight, yes, they’re not a known power couple in local showbiz like Fann Wong and Christopher Lee, or Edmund Chen and Xiang Yun (Chen Yixin’s parents).

But, the young couple has been one of the ‘it’ couples to watch from the second-generation actors. They dated for five years before breaking up, with Chen making the announcement in early February.

Though both parties have seemingly moved on amicably, a five-year relationship is still something to grieve for and the song describes it pretty aptly - “Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you've never met. But loving him was Red.”

Otters eating koi

  • Song: Anti-Hero

  • Album: Midnights

Wild otters at the public Bay East Garden, Gardens by the Bay, located along the Singapore River.
Wild otters at the public Bay East Garden, Gardens by the Bay, located along the Singapore River. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

“A monster on the hill” that is “too big to hang out, slowly lurching toward your favourite city”?

Sounds like what fancy home owners would call these adorable critters who feast on their expensive koi. Or worse, seemingly murder their non-edible fish.

Yes, it’s them, hi, they’re the problem, it’s them. It’s hard to lose thousands of dollars of fishes, but we have to tolerate it and find ways to co-exist with wildlife. Also, for some reason, these fellas are one of the mascots for Singapore now.

In fact, the Otter Working Group - comprising representatives from NParks, national water agency PUB, Mandai Wildlife Group, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society and other organisations - has suggested ways to otter-proof your house.

An Anti-Hero indeed.

KiaraaKitty banned from Taiwan

  • Song: Karma

  • Album: Midnights

KiaaraKitty was in Kaohsiung live streaming when her assistant dressed up as a woman to 'attack' her. (Photos: kiaarakitty/Instagram, Kaohsiung police)
KiaaraKitty was in Kaohsiung live streaming when her assistant dressed up as a woman to 'attack' her. (Photos: kiaarakitty/Instagram, Kaohsiung police)

Singapore Twitch streamer, KiaraaKitty (real name Cheng Wing Yee) was recently banned from entering Taiwan after faking an egg attack on her while livestreaming on the island.

The attacker accused her of seducing her husband, and the livestreamer said she doesn’t know who the person was. She also subsequently told Taiwanese media that she had reported the incident to the police.

However, it was reported that Kaohsiung police denied receiving any report. The ‘attacker’ was later identified to be the livestreamer’s male assistant and they confessed to staging the whole affair.

Look, like Mother sang in another song, “You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.”

Sometimes, it’s just not worth it to stage pranks just for content and views. Also, are we still in that era? The early 2010s called, by the way, they want their dated trend back.

Guess Karma really is “sweet like justice”.

Singapore Sky Lantern Festival

  • Song: All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)

  • Album: Red (Taylor’s Version)

Attendees at Sentosa's Sky Lantern Festival at Palawan Green were charged $50 per person, excluding booking fees. (PHOTO: TikTok/leamingtondiaries and TikTok/syxflicks and Facebook/LawrenceLam)
Attendees at Sentosa's Sky Lantern Festival at Palawan Green were charged $50 per person, excluding booking fees. (PHOTO: TikTok/leamingtondiaries and TikTok/syxflicks and Facebook/LawrenceLam)

Where do we even start? This debacle of a festival, which has been unofficially known as Singapore’s Fyre Festival, left many frustrated and disappointed after it failed to lift off (pun intended).

The event was planned to be a picturesque light-up with burning candles, but was changed at the last minute to LED candles. The situation was exacerbated on the ground due to a disorganised handling of the crowds, and a lack of communication about the change.

Food stalls were also empty and half-set-up, according to a TikTok user who spoke to Yahoo Southeast Asia. And after all this, the organiser said there would no refunds issued, but the tickets could be used for a rescheduled event... which the Singapore Civil Defence Force said it hasn't given any clearance too and the country's aviation authority saying it has no details about.

What was meant to be a “masterpiece”, was instead “broken like a promise”, with the hopes of attendees dashed and lying on the ground like a “crumpled up piece of paper”.

For that, the Sky Lantern Festival gets the ‘honour’ of Mother’s greatest song — All Too Well (10 Minute Version).

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