Phan Dinh Tung’s Album-Making Machine

Early this year Phan Dinh Tinh announced that he would release twelve albums in 2008. Needless to say, he was trying to do the impossible although he dropped three albums—Tung Teen, Tung Trinh (Trinh Cong Son) and Tung Ballad—in the first few months. Tung Ballad fits his style best. With several young songwriters, he released four more—Tung Chung (Nguyen Van Trung), Tung Thuan (Nguyen Hong Thuan), Tung Phong (Nguyen Hai Phong) and Tung Teens 2—at the end of the year.

Time has run out on him and he could only cut seven out of twelve like he had publicly claimed. Seven albums in one year is still quite an accomplishment, but why in such a rush? He’s still young and has plenty of time on his hand. He should have taken his time to do it right. Crafting an album takes careful attention and skillful listening to choose the right tracks and throw out the fillers. Instead he just release four very generic albums. You can put all four on random and still can’t tell them apart except for the kiddy tunes like “Cop Con,” “Hat Bui Le Loi” and “Chu Cuoi Xi Tin.”

Tung has a distinctive tenor of a voice, but has only one style of delivery. All of his songs ended up sounding quite monotonous and the manufactured productions don’t help much either. After going through four albums on my road trip from Virginia to New Jersey, the only track stood out was “Troc,” a song about his baldness written by Nguyen Hai Phong. The rests are consistently formularized.