The Sam Willows
The Sam Willows is a local band consisting of Sandra Riley Tang, Jonathan Chua and siblings Benjamin Kheng and Narelle Kheng. They started posting covers of songs in 2012, with their first mashup cover of Hey Soul Sister and We Are Young going viral. Subsequently, The Sam Willows signed on to record label Sony Music and has since gone on to perform both on the international and local stage, including having sold out concerts in Malaysia and Singapore. On 27 May 2019, The Sam Willows announced that they were going on a hiatus.
Started in late 2011, the quartet had first grouped together to perform at their school’s alumni concert. In May 2012, The Sam Willows uploaded their first mashup and cover of hit songs Hey Soul Sister by Train and We Are Young by Fun. The video went viral and this incident marked their rise to fame as a household name. As of January 2019, the video has garnered 209,000 views on YouTube (YouTube video). Subsequently, they were invited to Mediacorp Channel 5’s countdown event “Celebrate 2013” and many more stages in the following years.
In an early interview, Sandra stated that their band’s name ‘The Sam Willows’ is representative of their collective identity as a band, emphasizing on the “organic feel” that ‘Sam Willows’ implies.
The Sam Willows has an official channel on YouTube (The Sam Willows channel). Their videos include covers, some games and challenges, as well as a web series titled ‘Wandering Willows' where the quartet engage in challenges suggested by their viewers including 'The Try Not To Laugh Challenge' and 'Fear Pong'. Their most viewed videos include their cover of Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ which raked in 925,900 views and 740,200 views respectively as of February 2019.
As a local band, The Sam Willows has made waves internationally as well. In 2015, The Sam Willows had placed 23rd on Spotify's 'Top 25 Under 25' list, which featured international artists such as Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Sam Smith. In 2019, The Sam Willows was listed as one of 'Forbes' 30 Under 30' for the 'Entertainment & Sports in Asia' category.
Charts & awards
|Year||Music Platform||Music chart / Award||Description|
|2018||-||GOLD Status||The Sam Willows achieved Gold status for four of their songs - ‘Keep Me Jealous’, ‘Papa Money’, ‘Save Myself’ and ‘Robot’. They managed to attain more than 10 million streams in total for the four songs.|
|MTV||‘Best Southeast Asian Act’||The Sam Willows had been nominated for the MTV Europe awards for three years.|
|2015||iTunes||Local iTunes Singles Chart||The Sam Willows’ single ‘Take Heart’ had managed to top the local iTunes chart for 3 days straight when it was released.|
|-||Spotify||Regional Spotify Charts
||Their song ‘Take Heart’ garnered 4 million streams on Spotify and managed to appear on the regional Spotify charts.
Young & Fabulous (2016)
The Sam Willows was part of the cast for the local film ‘Young & Fabulous’. The movie is the first in Singapore to be cosplay-themed. The comedic plot revolves around growing up and follows the main characters as they navigate through harsh parenting while trying to reach for their dreams. The Sam Willows played Jay Lee (Benjamin Kheng), Orange Tan (Narelle Kheng), Nadia Ang (Sandra Riley Tang), and Bamboo Ng (Jonathan Chua).
In 2019, The Sam Willows collaborated with Singaporean Jazz musician Joanna Dong to release their first Mandarin song.
|Single||《无言》 'Say So' (Ft. Joanna Dong)||3:57|
The Sam Willows was one of 27 artistes featured in Singapore's National Day Parade 2019 song titled Our Singapore. The song paid homage to previous National Day Parade songs - We Will Get There in 2002 and Our Singapore in 2015. Additionally, the song featured artistes from various generations including veterans like Rahimah Rahim and Jacintha Abisheganaden, as well as icons such as Dick Lee and JJ Lin.
|Feature||Our Singapore - NDP 2019 Theme Song||4:00|
In 2018, The Sam Willows released their sophomore album ‘I Know, But Where’ which debuted number 1 on Singapore iTunes charts on the day of its release. The song ‘Robot’ and ‘Papa Money’ had been released earlier in February 2018. Their sophomore album centres around the song ‘Robot’ which addresses themes of depression.
In addition to this, they also released their first Christmas EP.
|Album||I Know, But Where||Duration|
|1||Baby Don’t Shy||3:33|
|2||Keep Me Jealous||3:07|
|3||Lie Like A Lover||3:11|
|7||Need Your Number||3:21|
|10||Time We Try||3:58|
|1||I’m Gonna Be Loved - This Christmas||3:31|
|3||Let It Snow||2:16|
|4||Little Drummer Boy||4:18|
In 2017, The Sam Willows released a single titled ‘Keep Me Jealous’. They had worked with producer Fredrik Häggstam again for this single. They had managed to write the song within a day. They released another single in the same year titled ‘Save Myself’, with 2 other versions - stripped and another in collaboration with Indonesian vocal group Gamaliél Audrey Cantika (GAC).
|Single||Keep Me Jealous||3:07|
|Save Myself (Stripped)||4:20|
|Save Myself ft. GAC||3:21|
In 2016, The Sam Willows released a single titled ‘All Time High’.
|Single||All Time High||4:10|
As part of Singapore’s 50th anniversary, The Sam Willows collaborated with Jimmy Ye (葉良俊), a Singaporean mandopop singer, to release the song ‘Come Back To You’ in the ‘Sing, Love’ Album produced by Red Roof Records.
In addition, The Sam Willows had released 3 songs titled ‘Flags Up’, ‘Ordinary’ and ‘Champion’ under the compilation album ‘Songs Of The Games’ for the 28th edition of the Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games). Benjamin Kheng had released another song under the same album called ‘A Love Song - Unbreakable’.
Now signed to Sony Music Entertainment Asia Pacific, The Sam Willows released an album titled ‘Take Heart’. The album was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden where they had worked with renowned producers Harry Sommerdahl and Fredrik Häggstam. The former has produced tracks for popular UK boyband The Wanted. The title song ‘Take Heart’ has reached over 1.6 million views on YouTube as of February 2019. The album was created around the theme of love.
|1||Come Back To You (in collaboration with Jimmy Ye)||3:56|
|Album||Songs Of The Games||Duration|
|4||A Love Song - Unbreakable (Benjamin Kheng)||3:49|
|1||Rest Of Your Life||3:21|
|3||Taking All His Time||3:41|
|7||Not The Only One||3:18|
|8||All Time High||4:10|
|9||Glasshouse (Lillywhite Edition)||3:50|
Shortly after their formation, The Sam Willows went on to produce their debut EP under Warner Music Singapore titled ‘The Sam Willows’.
|Album||The Sam Willows EP||Duration|
|22 July 2016||Take Heart Tour 2016
The concert was The Sam Willows’ first official concert that attracted 2,500 fans which featured Singaporean rapper ShiGGa Shay as well. The concert’s opening act include Singapore singer Sam Rui and Indonesian band The Overtunes.
|-||The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore|
|5 March 2016||The Sam Willows Live
The exclusive one-day concert had sold out.
|The Livescape group||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|4 August 2018||Hyperplay Festival
Hyperplay is the first ASEAN esports and music festival featuring cosplay, esports competitions and music performances.
|Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), and the National Youth Council||Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore|
|21 July 2018||We The Fest (WTF)
WTF is Indonesia’s largest international music festival featuring artists from the region as well as world renown artists over the span of 3 days.
|Ismaya Live||Jakarta, Indonesia|
|20 August 2017||Summer Sonic Festival
Summer Sonic is a three-day long rock festival that is held annually in Japan. Both international and local artist perform at this event.
|Creativeman Productions||Tokyo, Japan|
|11 September 2016||Ultra Music Festival Singapore
Ultra Music Festivals are held to showcase electronic dance music (EDM) artists worldwide.
|Ultra Enterprises Inc.||Ultra Park, Singapore|
|November 2013||West Australian Music (WAM) Festival
WAMFest is held mainly for the purpose of showcasing local music including artists, producers and bands.
|October 2013||MU:CON 2013
The conference lasted 3 days and was held with the purpose of showcasing South Korea’s local talent as well as to provide a sharing platform for international groups as well.
|Korea Creative Content Agency||Seoul, South Korea|
|October 2013||Zandari Festa
In 2013, the second edition of Zandari Festa hosted around 350 international and local bands across the span of 3 days.
|Zandari Culture Company||Hongdae, Seoul, Korea|
|22 September 2013
||Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix
The F1 Grand Prix is a leg of the FIA Formula 1 Championship that features various performances each year.
|Singapore GP Pte Ltd.||Singapore|
|24 May 2013||Digital & Music Matters
The 2013 edition of the festival had included the YouTube FanFest powered by HP. It is an event which aims to provide networking opportunities and includes the Music Matters Live Festival which has three nights of performances.
|March 2013||South by SouthWest (SXSW) Music Festival
The festival is held annually in March with artists from more than 60 countries performing.
|SXSW, LLC||Austin, Texas, USA|
|March 2013||Canadian Music Week (CMW)
CMW is a celebration of music across Toronto with comedy performances, film showcases and various performances.
|-||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|20 May (Manila) and 23 May (Singapore) 2016||Little Mix “The Get Weird Tour 2016”
The Sam Willows was the opening act for British pop girl group, Little Mix, for two concerts of their tour.
|-||The Star Performing Arts Theatre, Singapore, and KIA Theatre Manilla, Philippines|
|9 August 2015||National Day Parade (SG50)
The Sam Willows was the opening act for the National Day Parade 2015. They had performed their rendition of the National Day Song ‘Home’ originally sung by Kit Chan.
|Singapore Armed Forces, NDP Executive Committee||The Padang, Singapore|
|16 June 2015||28th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)
The Sam Willows performed at the closing ceremony of the 28th SEA Games with their song ‘Ordinary’ which was released in a compilation album for the games.
|Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee||The National Stadium, Singapore|
References / Citations
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- Tan, Kendra. "The Sam Willows Are Taking A Break: "I Wish I Had More Drama For You But We're All Still Good Friends"". 8 Days. May 28, 2019. Accessed on 20 November 2019.
- Sumayao, Marco. “The Sam Willows learn to grow up without ditching fun”. MTV Asia. July 13, 2018. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.mtvasia.com/news/8aemoz/the-sam-willows-learn-to-grow-up-without-ditching-fun
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- "The Sam Willows". Forbes. Accessed on 13 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/profile/the-sam-willows/#7152983e3651
- Eddino Abdul Hadi. “Home-grown pop quartet The Sam Willows' second album a result of 'confusing' times”. The Straits Times. July 6, 2018. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/home-grown-pop-quartet-the-sam-willows-second-album-a-result-of-confusing
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- “The Sam Willows”. Spotify. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0mXXLFHmd5bUHxkzaC9ujw
- Arteche, Michelle. "The Sam Willows release Mandarin version of '《无言》Say So' with Joanna Dong". Hear65. April 26, 2019. Accessed on 13 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://hear65.bandwagon.asia/articles/the-sam-willows-release-mandarin-version-of-say-so-with-joanna-dong
- Mohan, Matthew. "NDP 2019 theme song combines familiar tunes We Will Get There, Our Singapore". Channel NewsAsia. May 22, 2019. Accessed on 24 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ndp-2019-national-day-parade-singapore-theme-song-11553608?cid=youtube_cna_social_29012018_cna
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- Lim, Yu Jia. “Five things you missed at The Sam Willows Take Heart Tour”. Youth.sg. July 25, 2016. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youth.sg/Spotted/Reviews/2016/7/Five-things-you-missed-at-The-Sam-Willows-Take-Heart-Tour
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- “THE SAM WILLOWS LIVE IN KL”. Galactix Ticketing Malaysia. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.galactix.asia/thesamwillows
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- Lee, Jia Wen. “The Sam Willows and Wicked Aura will take the stage at Summer Sonic 2017”. Bandwagon. June 28, 2017. Accessed on 11 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bandwagon.asia/articles/the-sam-willows-wicked-aura-summer-sonic-2017
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