Asia 48 – 75 Nam Am Nhac Viet Nam

Asia Entertainment tried to do the impossible, and that is to cover almost a century worth of music in a couple of hours. As a result, they only scratch the surface of the history of Vietnamese music. What I want to see is more details of how our music has changed and grown over the years, and how earlier important figures like Van Cao and Pham Duy have influenced the latter songwriters. Maybe that requires Asia to make more than one release, but they want to sell more DVDs, don’t they? Nevertheless, 75 Nam Am Nhac Viet Nam (75 Years of Vietnamese Music) is a fantastic show.

The best part about Asia is that they never recycle their arrangements, and with a handful of skillful producers like Truc Ho, Truc Sinh, Sy Dan, and Vu Tuan Duc, they always churn out great sounds. For instance, the earlier version of Dang The Phong’s “Giot Mua Thu,” which was produced years ago for Asia’s girls including Nini, Ha Vy, and Vina Uyen My, was gorgeous, but they refresh it again this time for Anh Minh and Thuy Duong.

Beside the breathtaking arrangements, Asia is doing something quite odd on this video by pairing up singers from the two different generations. Kieu Nga and Trish on “May Lang Thang” is a strange combination, but the production pulls them together in a creative way. Kieu Nga starts off “May Lang Thang” with a mid tempo so that her strong and clear vocals can dominate. When Trish enters the stage, the beat accelerates and she rides right inside it. Her voice is small, but not overshadowed by the pulsating club groove. This is one of Trish’s best performances I have heard in years. The same goes for Thanh Tung’s “Mua Ngau” with Thanh Lan and Da Nhat Yen on the same stage. The arrangement switches to fast tempo when Da Nhat Yen kicks in. She is actually the only younger generation that topped her older partner. I am not saying Thanh Lan is not good, but the song doesn’t seem to fit her well. Another indelible blend is Don Ho and Dieu Huong. Backed up by Don Ho’s whispery vocals (his special talent), Dieu Huong gives a remarkable performance of her own “Vi Do La Em.” Don Ho also delivers a heartfelt performance on her romantic ballad “Chi Co Mot Thoi.”

Asia 4 doesn’t impress me much with their dance version of Duc Huy’s “Va Toi Cung Yeu Em,” but homeboy Chosen got the flow. His delivery is fast, clear, and way more natural than Hearts to Exist. His rhymes are not that interesting except for the line, “Bun Bo Hue with a little bit of rice.” Now that is Vietnamese ghetto style.

On the weaker side, Lam Nhat Tien could not express Van Cao’s “Thien Thai” to the fullest. His performance is not dramatic enough. Nguyen Khang and Vu Tuan Duc don’t go well together on Doan Chuan and Tu Linh’s “Duong Ve Viet Bac.” Thien Kim does not bring anything to Trinh Cong Son’s “Tinh Nho.” Still, Asia has once again delivered a fine presentation from musical arrangement to stage design to song selection. We’re also feeling their new protégé, Dang The Luan who has tremendous potential in becoming Duy Khanh’s successor.