If Việt pop is politic, Minh Tuyết would be the queen of the Republican Party. She only needs to reach her base and no one else. No crime in that. Like many of her previous releases, the title alone lets you know what the album is all about. No crime in that either; however, my main concern is the one group of audience that she is targeting: teenage girls.
Although I don’t have a daughter, the name of the album, Anh Muốn Em Sống Sao, which translated to “How Do You Want Me to Live,” is still alarming to me. Penned by Chi Dân, the tune, which had been performed on Paris By Night 111 by Minh Tuyết and chosen for this album title, shouldn’t be a model for young girls. Telling them “how do you want me to live” is the same as giving up control of their own lives. I have listened to this tune at least a dozen times and Minh Tuyết has made it really damn convincing that she lived every word she sang—whether she truly meant it or through her gift of lyricizing this type of romantic hopelessness.
For me, it’s a guilty pleasure at first, but then I realize it may send a wrong message to innocent teenage girls. Let’s me try to break down the lyrics. The song starts out: “Từ sâu trong đôi mắt này, anh hờ hững không như bao ngày / Phải chăng nơi chốn đây, để anh vội đến và rồi vội đi?” The second line gives the guy the free pass. He could come to her whenever he wanted to and he could go whenever he felt like it. It goes on: “Phải chi anh thấu hiểu, rằng em đã yêu anh rất nhiều? / Nói đi anh người ơi giờ anh muốn em phải sống sao.” Translation: “Please understand that I love you very much / Please tell me how do you want me to live now?” Her own life and future are now depending on this son of a bitch. The next two bars go: “Hạnh phúc đâu dễ kiếm tìm, em vẫn đứng đây chờ anh đi tìm / Lúc anh không còn ai hết, hãy ở yên em sẽ đi kiếm.” Happiness is hard to find and she’s waiting for him to find his. When he can’t find anyone else, she is still there for him. So now we’re telling our girls it’s perfectly fine to be the last choice. The last two bars before the chorus: “Bởi em yêu người vô cớ, vì đã lỡ nhận hết đau buồn / Nói đi anh người ơi giờ anh muốn em phải sống sao?” Interpretation: “Because I love you unconditionally and have received all the distressing / Please tell me how do you want me to live?” The hook gets more depressing:
Anh chỉ đến bên em lúc buồn, vậy những ngày vui anh về nơi đâu?
Anh chỉ đến bên em lúc say, vì hết say anh đâu ở đây.
Anh là ai đi qua chốn này? Còn em là ai trong cuộc đời anh đây?
Nói đi anh người ơi vì sao anh nỡ yêu em như vậy.
He only comes to her when he’s sad and she wonders where he could be when he’s happy. He only comes to her when his ass is drunk. When he’s sober he’s not around. Who is he coming and go and who is she in his life? Now tell me if this song is not disturbing, especially for young girls who are not yet mature enough mentally to see something is really wrong with this relationship.
Why am I being so harsh on Minh Tuyết and not the songwriter? The song is rubbish, but she has the power to bring it to their ears and she chose to do so. This is just the opening song of the album. I have no fortitude to go through the 10 remaining tracks. Whether or not she picked these tunes unconsciously, she will continue to make this type of record as long as her fans continue to buy them.