Xinyao Way Home
Published on 28 October 2014
Three decades on, Singaporeans still love Eric Moo best for the songs he wrote as a starry-eyed student.
BY Jo tan
He may be Malaysian, but no one disputes Eric Moo’s pioneer status here – he’s long been associated with the uniquely Singapore music movement called xinyao, the homegrown music often written by bright-eyed youngsters and inspired by local life. Moo has written and sung many songs from the callow age of 17, with his 1983 ballad ‘Encounter’ the first xinyao song to make it to local charts. “In those days, only people from overseas wrote songs,” he’s been quoted as saying. “But my philosophy in life is, never give up.”
Thirty-one years later, Moo is anything but a has-been. From his success in Singapore, he moved on to make it big in Taiwan and recorded more than 40 albums, one winning the coveted Golden Melody Award, another snagging American Billboard’s Excellent Artistic Music Award, the first one ever awarded to an Asian. Acting in his first movie Those Were the Days in 1996, he won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Newcomer. Up to last year, he was judging young singers, playing the Simon Cowell of China’s top talent shows such as The Voice of the Stars, making news and breaking hearts with no-holds-barred criticism and even inspiring one budding crooner to kneel down and beg him for mentorship.
The 51 year-old looks better than ever, with a gym-toned body, deep tan and bleached snowy hair; while continuing to sound awesome on new songs like ‘Friend, Oh Friend’.
Yet, beneath the sheen of international success, Moo remains the xinyao boy-wonder to Singapore fans. This July, more than 1,000 fans sang in the storm at the ‘Xinyao Reunion’ concert, held in the open atrium of Bras Basah Complex, which Moo headlined. The same month, the musical Innamorati, written around Moo’s hits, was performed by a cast of local singing starlets. For his My Musical Journey concert last year, faithful fans sang along with him while reading lyrics off a screen, in classic xinyao communion.
It’s thus fitting that the upcoming Eric Moo concert will be his first xinyao-focused one, called ‘My Xinyao Era’, which sees old friends from his past guesting. “Xinyao was an important era to local music and me. It’s a miracle that the song I wrote as a student made it to the Mandarin pop charts. I hope it’s something that Singaporeans will look back to 100 years from now.” Moo may get his wish: no matter what his adventures overseas are, here in Singapore, Moo will always be our xinyao sweetheart.
Catch Eric Moo in Concert at The Star Theatre on 8 Nov