Da Nhat Yen

Da Nhat Yen is my video girl. I love to watch her on Asia. I am not ashamed to say, her moves groove me most of the time. She keeps me looking forward to her performances on Asia series because of the constant transformation in her concept and execution. Under the guidance of Truc Ho, musical director of Asia, she could maneuver her ways around various styles. With her Princess Entertainment (still distributed by Asia), however, she is drowning in her own pool of potpourri. Her album, which has no title, is ranging from bubblegum pop, pop rock, pop jazz, disco rap, Latin cha cha to Vietnamese ballads. I wonder why she can’t pick out a title track. One song can’t represent her entire repertoire.

The album starts off with R. Williams and G. Chambers’s “Kids,” a pop/rock production from Peter Siebert. Joining along side DNY is the girlish-voiced Justin. Their duet on the refrain annoys the hell out of me. On the club-friendly “Voi Anh Dem Nay,” penned by DNY and Sy Dan, the Vietnamese-English hook is nerve-raising. I thought Spanglish is bad, until I hear how DNY weaves English into Vietnamese. With the new-wave groove, Sting’s “Send Your Love,” DNY sports a Twista’s speedy flow. The main problem is that I have no idea what she is singing with her unclear enunciation.

The worse cover has to be Jesse Harris’s “I’ve Got to See You Again.” DNY can’t express the sex quality like Norah Jones could. In particular, when Jones phrases, “To not touch your skin is not why I sing,” her smoky contralto makes us want to get our freaks on, but DNY comes off so mundane. Another significant difference between the two renditions is the musical production. The intoxicating Latin flavor on Jones’s piece is perfect for baby-making music while Nhat Trung’s banal arrangement and Vu Anh Tuan’s toneless saxophone is more appropriate for elevator music. Again on Pham Dinh Chuong’s “Nua Hon Thuong Dau,” the ear-breaking sound waves of the saxophone makes DNY’s weak, breathy voice sinks like a Titanic.

Why be so tough on such a sweet darling who tries her hardest to bring us some entertainment values? I have nothing against Da Nhat Yen. In fact, I still have mad love for her, but crafting an album takes skills and experiences. Can’t just throw in everything for everybody. Be selective, be focused, and be original. But don’t lose the eye-candy juice, baby!

Bonjour Vietnam