My Explanation About Wishlist

All this talk about Wishlist, I feel compelled to explain about the song in greater detail so that people will understand why I hate it so much.

When I first started to write songs about 10 years back, the whole idea was to be able to be ‘someone else’, you know? I mean, you hear a lot of these singer-songwriters saying things like these songs were written from a personal perspective et cetera. Well, for me it was a mixture of both, there are obviously some personal experiences, but mostly those songs were written as an escape — you just act out certain ‘roles’ that you don’t normally do in real life. It made me able to talk about things that I don’t ordinarily talk about .. like about mourning for someone (if you know me, you’d KNOW that I don’t mourn) or not being able to express your feelings (Coyok once said I am brutally honest, so this obviously doesn’t apply to me either).

Anyway, I started Wishlist with the chorus. At that time, although I have written a handful of songs, I was not ready to play them for anyone yet because I think my earlier (and simpler) work does not have the “commercial appeal” (I was wrong, a lot of people seemed to like Fool and Stupid Reasons just fine so I must have done something right somewhere). Wishlist was supposed to be THE experiment — I wanted to write a soppy, cheesy love song set against a soppy cheesy melody and see how it would be accepted.

Around the same time I was acquainted with the indie group the Pilgrims (they may not remember me now, I was very obscure). They were arguing over their latest album. Kombat (lead) was saying that he hated the new release because it was too radio-friendly and Bob (vocals) said well that was what the recording company wanted et cetera et cetera.
It got me to think. Obviously you would like to have freedom over your art. But is that enough? What if other people don’t “get” you?

So, Wishlist was to be my radio-friendly ditty, my “commercial” release. I tabbed out the chorus and thought, oh my God, I would not be caught dead humming this song in real life. But, that’s the whole idea, wasn’t it? You can’t always write something that you like, most of the time you have to write something that other people would like too. Otherwise, you’re just another sorry ass who thinks you have something interesting to say but no one bothers to listen.

Anyway, after writing the first verse and the chorus (excruciatingly), I stopped for a few months. I didn’t know how to proceed — this was a new area for me to explore and I didn’t feel any empathy towards the song so I didn’t feel any great need to finish it. The whole song took me some 4 years to complete (1994-1998). I finally finished the lyrics while waiting for a taxi in front of my Vista Angkasa apartment (at that time I have started to freelance as a scriptwriter with this production house called Cyberbang and I had a lot of time in my hands).

The first person I played it to in full was to Vee. She said, wow, that was really good. I told her, but I haven’t named the song because I didn’t know what to name it but I was thinking .. mmm.. maybe Wishlist? Actually I kinda knew that was going to be the eventual title, but a few days later Pearl Jam came out with a single with the same name! Talk about timing.

Later that same month, there was a gathering of about 100 people or so at Templer’s Park and I decided to debut Wishlist. Wah, it caught on like wildfire. I knew it would. It was designed that way. But I hated the fact that the formula works. The song is predictable, the lyrics uninspiring … yet everyone I know started to identify me with Wishlist. These days I can’t even go out to a party without someone inadvertently asking for that song.

It got me to think again. There are so many things that I consider as trivia in this life, and Wishlist is one of them. But, to many people, it was their inner thoughts, something that they have experienced. They identify with the sentiment — the notion of not being able to say something out loud and keeping it inside.

So if you ask me why I hate Wishlist, it’s because I don’t “get” it. It’s not me. I am just the vehicle for the song, but it’s not who I am or what I represent. Obviously it holds sentimental reasons, I mean you can’t really hate something that you’ve created despite how uninspired you were about the whole matter.

But, I am glad it received the respose that it did. And I suppose it’s time I grow up and just accept it as it is.

Do wait for the “release” of my digital mini demo in the next few months or so. And yes, Wishlist will be on it. I owe it to the song to give it the recognition it deserves.

Ijah’s Songs:
Mr Children:


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