Dinh Ngoc is Asia Entertainment’s latest protégé. Unlike most of Asia’s shining stars such as Lam Nhat Tien, Thanh Truc, and Cardin, he is added to the roster to attract more matured listeners. Based on his songs selection on Tinh Khuc Mua Dong, an album released under his label (Dinh Ngoc Productions) and produced by Duy Cuong, he seems to have a clear direction of where he wants to go. The path he has chosen is a smart one because he faces less competition, but the few challengers he’s battling are hard to conquer.
Right off the bat, he is up against Khanh Ha on Ngo Thuy Mien’s “Mot Doi Quen Lang.” The down side is that Duy Cuong recycles the arrangements on both performances. Same beat different vocal makes the comparison even more obvious. Dinh Ngoc’s version is good, but Khanh Ha experienced vocal manipulation leaves him out in the cold.
It gets worse when he covers Trinh Cong Son’s “Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi,” which is one of Tuan Ngoc’s signature pieces. Again, similar arrangement different voice, and Tuan Ngoc’s intricate phrasing and his detail to each word shred Dinh Ngoc’s performance into confetti.
Beside his charming voice, he does nothing new to the aged romantic ballads. He hardly pushes the arrangements, and his steady delivery doesn’t help either. The only time he sounds dynamic is on Pham Trong’s “Mua Thu Khong Tro Lai.” Fortunately, he is backed up by one of the deftest producers in the game. Duy Cuong helps drive Dinh Ngoc’s performance with a pounding beat on Pham Duy’s “Nghin Nam Van Chua Quen.”
Dinh Ngoc has not given enough reasons for listeners to root for him. He needs more drama and passion in his delivery if he wants to go far. Taking the road that is less traveled does not mean he is on a smooth expedition. He still has a long and bumpy ride ahead of him.