Desmond Ng wants to expose younger audiences to getai at the National Day Concert

But what if people start to walk out during his performance?

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Desmond Ng may be performing at this year’s National Day Concert, but don’t expect the singer-actor to be crooning any heart-thumping patriotic songs. Instead, the 2015 GeTai Challenge champ, the only artiste to be pulling double duty by performing on both days of the music extravaganza at Gardens by the Bay, will be putting on his getai shoes and belting out Hokkien songs that your ah gong and ah ma will be familiar with, before rocking out with his band AL4HA the next day. 

To be honest, we were a little surprised that he will be putting on a mini getai show, but it’s a smart move if you want to expose the younger generation to the dying art. They probably won’t go to any getai shows, so you bring the getai show to them, right?

Granted, the getai show will not be for everyone, but the 31-year-old can’t help but “feel quite special to be the only one singing in Hokkien” and is looking forward to seeing the audience’s reaction when he starts spewing the dialect.

“They are unlike the typical getai crowd who are mostly the older generation. I think 90 percent of them will be youngsters, so I’m not sure what to expect. But music is a universal language that transcends all boundaries - even though I don’t understand Korean, I can appreciate K-pop songs - so I am curious to see if the youngsters will be able to appreciate the Hokkien songs of yesteryear,” he said.

Desmond’s strategy to appeal to the younger audience is a fairly simple one: perform “more upbeat songs” to get them into the mood, and hopefully with a dash of sassy showmanship and more down-to-earth costumes (gaudy outfits were never his style anyway), he can capture their attention.

He’s even planning to go all the way by interacting with the audience in Hokkien. “But if there is no response, then I will have to switch to Mandarin,” he laughed.  

And if they get up and walk away during the performance? “That’s okay,” he said with a shrug. “I’ll just take it as they are taking a toilet break.”

Continued on next page: Desmond tells us who he hopes to perform with at the National Day Concert

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