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Lenne Chai: Buro 24/7 Singapore Playlist #148

Salvation made simple

Text: Lenne Chai


Photographer Lenne Chai's playlist is where pop culture meets faith and ‘90s alt rock

Thanks to Salvation Made Simple, an installation that I did for this year's edition of OH! Open House, I've been thinking a lot about mentions of religion and faith in pop culture. Is it a coincidence that the songs are mostly 90s' alt rock?

'Losing My Religion' by R.E.M left such a strong impression on my young Catholic self! The topic felt so taboo and was definitely a guilty pleasure. The first time I heard Nirvana's 'The Man Who Sold The World' was on my brother's MTV Unplugged CD (is my age showing?) and have been in love ever since. It's one of my favourite songs ever; I love Bowie, but Nirvana meets Bowie is even better.

I've always felt that 'sin' was a huge theme in the ‘90s - be it songs about self-condemnation, films about being damned, and just the prevalent sense that it's seductive to be bad. Maybe it's also the byproduct of cool, gothic supernatural shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. Third Eye Blind's music like 'Losing A Whole Year' always reminds me of that. I listened to Dishwalla's 'Counting Blue Cars (Tell Me Your Thoughts On God)' on repeat during my angsty teenage phase, and revisiting it now has made me realise how dramatic their music is! A good reminder of how things you find cool or deep at an impressionable age rarely ever pass the hindsight test.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the banned music video for 'Like A Prayer', at a karaoke joint of all places! The video truly strove to be as sacrilegious as it could be, with black saints, interracial relations, burning crosses and more... it definitely blew my 15 year old mind and left an indelible impression forever.

Photographer Lenne Chai is represented by ADB Agency in New York. This weekend is the last opportunity to see her current installation, Salvation Made SimpleTM, located at Orchard Plaza #04-23, held as part of this year's edition of OH! Open House.

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