The Songs of Sentosa

I’VE never owned an iPod so I’m always fascinated by the sight of more and more people getting earplugged (not earrings) and easily shutting off the world – or any form of conversation for that matter– as they immerse in music. Forgive me if you catch me staring sometimes but, aside from the fact that your gadget looks way too cool, my mind also tends to wander and wonder about mundane stuff like – “What’s that song that’s making you bop your head nonstop?” Or, “Hey dude, we’re in Sentosa. Does your iPod manage to catch the beat of the island?” I can only guess.

When traveling, I always find it important to feel the rhythm of the place – be it slow, fast or easy. That way, it’s easier to get to the heart of any destination.

Sentosa Island, Singapore, in particular, brings a wave of unforgettable iTunes you can easily download from its surrounding waters, beautiful structures, dazzling technology, attractions and people. If given the chance to save and shuffle the songs of Sentosa in any iPod, my playlist would be as follows:


Sentosa, dubbed as Asia’s favorite playground, takes entertainment to a whole new level by bringing in our favorite ocean playmates – Oscar the fish and the flipping dolphins, among others. Its dazzling 83-meter long glass tube is an interactive, one-of-a-kind Underwater World experience as it surrounds you with a wealth of marine life. Like a toddler in the sea, I couldn’t get enough of playing peek-a-boo with the sharks, trying to rub noses with the adorable dugong or running alongside the graceful rays.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, at night, Sentosa beckons with the “Songs of the Sea” – an award-winning show played on water featuring lively music, amazing pyrotechnics, water jets, fire and a melody of lights. Simply magical! Sebastian the Crab apparently nailed it decades ago when he sang to the Little Mermaid, “Under the sea, under the sea, darlin’ it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me…” Percussions? Oscar, bring it on.


I have the sneaky feeling that Sentosa Island is not at all what it seems. Some things you see sleeping innocently at daylight, like cranes for example, could easily take flight at night. The Crane Dance, one of the major attractions in Resorts World Sentosa, tells the love story of a pair of mechanical cranes whose love, accordingly, transforms them into ‘real birds’. Unbelievable may be, but the astounding light and water effects, the sheer beauty and sight of steel cranes moving deftly in the midst of water and light illusion is something worth watching for. Then, there’s the placid Lake of Dreams at the heart of Festive Walk, which dramatically comes alive every night. “Simply smokin’” I call it, what with its playful illusions of fire-breathing dragons, water cannons and laser special effects. And the best thing is-- the show’s free! Another remarkable “transformer” is the Steven Spielberg-inspired studio over at Universal Studios, “Lights, Camera, Action!”, which easily rearranges itself to give a thrilling play of wind and fire as you get to experience a simulated hurricane in a New York City set. As that singer of the Transformers’ theme song wails, yes definitely, Sentosa is “more than meets the eye.”


One of the coolest hotels I’ve been to is Hard Rock Hotel in Resorts World Sentosa.

Oozing with style and creativity, its design and memorabilia give testament to the glories of music and rock culture. The walls are adorned with the faces of revolutionary artists from the 50s to the new millennium such as Diana Ross – The Supremes, The King of Rock N Roll Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Tina Turner, Madonna, U2, Rihanna and more. Just walking along the hall of fame with the blown-up photos of these rockin’ superstars makes you feel like a rock star yourself without the stress of having to cut a record album. They inspire you to dance or sing along, and as Alicia Keys on the wall would tell you, “No one, no one, no one can get in the way of what I’m feelin…”


For me, Universal Studios Singapore is one big American musical experience. It offers not just one but a series of hit remakes racing through the charts. If I were to judge or vote for my favorite number in this theme park on Sentosa Island, it would have to be “Thriller!” sang by the freaky Monsters at Pantages Theater in simulated Hollywood.

These cool rock n’ rollin’ Monsters, headlined by Count Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and others, show the world they still have “IT”, with their screaming repertoire of “It’s My Life”; “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Freak Out!” and once more, “Thriller Night”. In fact, they were so good, I had LSS (last song syndrome) while I was screaming my head off in the dark aboard the high-speed rollercoaster called Revenge of the Mummy in Ancient Egypt (another theme zone) – which, hands down, is definitely the most freaky ride ever. Sharp turns, fast reverse sections, fireballs, scarab beetles, Imhotep amidst total darkness…a psychological thriller, indeed!

The other song contenders in Universal Studios aren’t bad either. Timon and Pumba’s rendition of “In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle” brings together well-loved animal characters like the Madagascar troupe and the “Far, Far Away Kingdom” (another major theme zone) mainstays Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots. But then, the jungle king still towers over all. At 37 meters high, Merlion – the half lion, half fish creature, sits on top of a hill, preening as people line up for a photo op.

Anastasia’s “A Journey to the Past” also blends well with The Lost World- Jurrasic Park and Waterworld, Ancient Egypt and old Hollywood featuring vintage cars and singing quartets with spanking shoes and oily hairdos as they belt out the Jukebox on the streets.

The “Empire State of Mind” duet by American rapper and hip hop artist Jay-Z and R&B soul singer Alicia Keys, is also a show stopper in the New York zone. This song easily encapsulates the place. To borrow their words, “In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights (and bright yellow taxi cabs, mind you) will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York!”

However, the one garnering the most popular text votes, I bet, would be “Paparazzi”.

There’s hardly ever any tourist in sight without a camera on hand. There are queues everywhere of people wanting to photograph with fake celebrities. But you know who the biggest superstar is? Nah, not Marilyn Monroe or even the Merlion. Listen and listen well as Lady Gaga clues us in, “Baby there’s no other superstar, you know that I’ll be papa-paparazzi.”


What I find absolutely delightful in Sentosa Island is its very organized – and take note: free! – transport system. For every significant destination, there are always color-coded buses, trams or trains waiting to bring you there. Inspired by the song “Buses and Trains” by the Bachelor Girl, I (to rephrase a bit) “walked towards a bus, got picked by a train, keep fallin’ in love, which is kind of the same… and it felt so good, I wanna do it again!”

While scribbling notes on this musical journey, I‘m yet on another bus on my way to nowhere. As we exit the gates of Sentosa Island, I couldn’t help but hum along and bop my head – sans iPod—to the lingering chords of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t forget me when I’m gone… my heart would break….” (
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