Complaints Choir

You can’t get rich by working
And love doesn’t last forever
In the public sauna they never ask
If it’s ok to throw water on the stove

Old forests are cut down and turned into toilet paper
And still all the toilets are always out of paper
Why products on sale drive the people crazy?
In the middle of Helsinki they built another shopping hell

Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen collected the pet peeves and angst-ridden pleas of people in Helsinki, and then composed this choral work around the list of complaints. Birmingham has also chipped in with their very own Complaints Choir, and I could see no reason why Singapore should not chip in too.

Complaining is for the longest time the national past time: forum pages are often inundated with them; kopi-tiams see groups of uncles-and-aunties rattling on about jobs, the gahmen (Government) and bus fare prices; school kids complaint about homework; adults complain about working hours and their bosses etc.

There are so many good reasons to channel complaining into a song like this. Turning negativity and pessimism into a creative work of art dissipates the grunt – as you sing along about the pet peeves, they may become a little more tolerable, a little more bearable, and perhaps even, a little cuter.

The issues sang in the Complaints Choir are also very localized – only those who’re here can really know and identify with it. In Singapore’s version, maybe there could be: NKF, forgetting to tap-out on buses, about choosing HDB flats close to your kid’s primary school, GRCs, .. these are stuff that makes it Uniquely Singapore. As much as it is a daily gripe, it still gives a facet of life here – something that once you see it, you know you’re here.

I can imagine Finns all over the world nodding in agreement with the song, identifying with the complaints – “Oh yeah! I’m really irritated by that!”, and yet among all these emotions evoke a warm sense of nostalgia and identity, a love for Helsinki for all its quirks and particularities. And the same could happen for Singapore, especially given the trend of diaspora and global trodding.

So someone, make one already!

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9 comments so far

  1. Anonymous on

    hi, was surfing around and saw this post. in case you didn’t know, the complaints choir of singapore will be singing on the 26 and 27 Jan 08 at various locations. hope you can catch our performance!

    http://www.singaporefringe.com
    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/lifestylenews/view/322688/1/.html

  2. Gems Sty on

    Wow, I didn’t know Singapore has started her very own complaints choir! About time too! I’d probably troop down to one of your performances. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Anonymous on

    Tprivate invite-only performances of the full Singapore Complaints Choir on both Sat 26th Jan and Sun 27th Jan, 3pm and 6.30pm at The Chamber at The Arts House.

    o obtain invites, interested audience members can email info@singaporefringe.com or call The Complaints Choir Hotline at 9690 7453 or turn up at the venue. We will issue private event invites for the special performances.

  4. Anonymous on

    fyi in case you’re planning to hear us elsewhere:

    due to some conditions with the license for performance–foreigners are not permitted to participate–and us not wanting the choir to be split up in any way, all public performances will be cancelled. instead, there will be private invite-only performances of the full Singapore Complaints Choir on both Sat 26th Jan and Sun 27th Jan, 3pm and 6.30pm at The Chamber at The Arts House.

    to obtain invites, interested audience members can email info@singaporefringe.com or call The Complaints Choir Hotline at 9690 7453 or turn up at the venue. private event invites will be issued for the special performances.

    sorry for the previous post and that this is so last minute; the choir also just received the information this morning 😦

  5. Gems Sty on

    Thanks for all the information, various anonymous-es (is there such a plural?)… It’s really a shame for the authorities to have to undertake such an action, forcing drastic actions on people who’re nothing but having a simple and enjoyable performance in art.

    Oh well, Singapore the Arts Hub indeed!

  6. Anonymous on

    so, you managed to watch us? which performance did you attend and how did you find it?

    yup, it’s really ironic as this sort of community project is not divisive but unifies people instead, and it works better than campaigns…

    oh, all this anonymousness is really just one person.

  7. Gems Sty on

    Hi Anonymous,

    Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch you guys (I was out of country)…Hitting up Youtube for it. 🙂
    You guys should upload a good one with lyrics in it~ Karaoke Sing Along!

  8. Anonymous on

    oic… there should be a properly edited video with better sound recording (and lyrics i think) in a few weeks’ time, so keep a look out for it!

    -n

  9. […] I first came across Complain Choirs from my friend’s blog. They were started of by Finnish artists back in Europe sometime […]


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