To celebrate the end of a scintillating summer when normality returned to our home city of Saigon, the Wink Hotels team curated a special mix of new Vietnamese music for The Dot Magazine. Listen.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
In the same way that the country has bounced back from the pandemic, the music scene in Vietnam is back in full swing. Lots of tracks hatched during lockdown finally got a release dor the summer, with everything from pop, ballads, to rap, rock and indie.
Big releases have dropped from up-and-coming artists and big names in the business. There was ‘Co Khong Giu Mat Dung Tim’ from Truc Nhan. Miu Le released ‘Vi Me Anh Bat Chia Tay,’ and B Ray with his ‘Thieu Than.’ Tlinh was everywhere with two collaborations here – one with LOWG and one with R.I.C.
Plus there were releases from Den and Son Tung MTP…but such was their popularity, you probably already know that.
Wren Evans – Gap May
Prolific Gen-Z posterboy, Wren Evans is back with ‘Gap May’. The song is typically catchy, and a perfect feel-good summer track. In the video, reminiscent of the golden age of MTV, Wren Evans is in full pop star mode, voguing in an oversized Talking Heads jacket and red gloves and delivering some disco-inspired slapped bass in a black biker outfit.
In fact, in the music video, Wren Evans is also making a music video. In the video-within-a-video, Wren Evans drives a starlet in a limo full of celery, who he seems to be obsessed with, before getting doused by her and her watering can while chained to a bed, and then firing a bazooka in a James Bond-referencing moment. And all while the springy bass powers the track along as Wren’s angelic, lovelorn vocals trill over the surface.
The video ends with a promise of part 2, which we hope makes sense of it all.
SPACESPEAKERS – Nhanh Len Nhe
Back in April, the SPACESPEAKERS collective, of Touliver, SOOBIN, Binz, Rhymastic and SlimV, announced a surprise team-up with the national carrier, Vietnam Airlines.
Part of the collaboration was to create a theme song to be played on board. And this is it. So, expect to hear this song, with its swelling ethnic string instrument opening and catchy choruses, every time your Vietnam Airlines plane lands, and with 400+ daily flights, that’s already a lot of listeners.
Vietnam Airlines have been going through a radically hip facelift. They recently released an updated in-flight safety video directed by Vu Thien Phuong that cleverly (and musically) incorporates Vietnam’s rich ethnic culture.
Now, SPACESPEAKERS are adding to the Airline’s resurgent mood.
Hoang Thuy Linh – See Tinh
There’s more of the same summery feel-good vibes from Hoang Thuy Linh’s ‘See Tinh.’ The animated video begins with stalks flying over a river, and we zoom in to find a fish farmer sprinkling the surface with feed. One of the fish turns out to be Hoang Thuy Linh as a mermaid, who seems to be infatuated with the handsome farmer. And the track has the same poppy, faintly disco-inspired bounce as Wren Evans’ ‘Gap May.’
Amee & Obito & Hua Kim Tuyen – Shay Nanggg
ST.319 began as a dance group, and morphed into an artist management and production company at the end of 2013 working with artists like Min, Erik and Grey D, and producers like Hua Kim Tuyen, who worked on this track, ‘Shay Nanggg.’
Despite the obvious commercial overtones – sponsor SKIN AQUA TONE UP UV is even listed as one of the artists – and the Dalat tourism brochure of a video with lots of forced vintage elements like the polaroid camera, acoustic guitar and motorbike and sidecar, Amee delivers her innocently-voiced lyrics over a smooth pop track into which Obito adds a spoken-word verse. Syrupy but seductive.
MIN – Ca Phe
Poor MIN. She’s home alone, and missing a guy. Even though he messages to say he’s coming over, he seems to forget almost instantly. That leaves MIN counting the painful passing of time through the drips of coffee from the phin. She’s so delirious with disappointment her toy rabbits come to life, and almost beat her at a game of go, before she flips the table. Then the bell rings.
Along the way, MIN changes costumes almost as many times as the coffee drips. She drills a wall, rides around in a shopping cart, and smashes up the living room. If that is the guy at the door, she has a lot of cleaning up to do.
Gerdnang – Mamma Mia
Leaving the candy pop behind, we’re back with a banger from one of our favorite rap crews, Gerdnang, and their members HURRYKNG, REX, HIEUTHUHAI, Negav, and MANBO.
The beat snaps as a twisted steel drum sample leads into HIEUTHUHAI’s incendiary opening verse. The video is an old-school, low-budget gang cut with the crew vibing on a rooftop and in a parking garage, dressed-down and casual, with visuals augmented by lots of effects – fake lightning flashes and heavy filters – and random appearances by Teddy Chilla, Anh Phan, Minh Lai and others.
An inevitable inclusion in Gerdnang’s live shows, expect Mamma Mia to blow the roof off.
Toc Tien & Touliver – 1 Cong Toc Mai
Toc Tien and Touliver keep their lives together pretty low key. However, they’re happy to announce their new music collaboration that also signals Toc Tien’s return to releasing new music.
The typically dense and heavy Touliver production begins with a jagged electric guitar riff before Toc Tien begins, sounding part Lady Gaga part Kate Bush, with the nightmarish opening lines, “well are you ready for the fun, after all the fun that you’ve done” amid what looks like the day-after carnage of a debauched wedding party.
Toc Tien in a devil-red outfit haunts a couple in their ostentatious mansion, whispering curses into the guy’s ear and sliding a consoling arm around what seems to be the hard-done-to bride. “Ain’t nobody gonna cry,” she keeps reminding her in a song about female empowerment, even though in interviews Toc Tien was keen to play down that aspect saying it’s simply a song about “the right to love, be hurt, suffer and be happy.”
LOWG & Tlinh – Nguoi Di Bao
Another example of marketing departments co-opting young artists for product promotion, this time it’s Dibao.
At least the success of the electric motorbike company may help to reduce some pollution issues in Vietnam as they look to take a bigger share of the increasingly competitive market here. The country is said to have the world’s second largest electric motorbike market, which accounts for 10% of world sales.
Even their website is plastered with images of the two young artists, who, in the song, preach a message of living life to the fullest backed by Last Fire Crew dancers.
7UPPERCUTS – Tron Tim
Spiky, cartoonish trio 7UPPERCUTS have almost single-handedly taken punk mainstream in Vietnam. And this comeback marks a welcome return after the band ceased activities in 2020 after singer Aki was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma.
Now, Aki is back with guitarist A Dinh and drummer Callum. The video, appropriately, shows the three of them in hospital gowns, plugged into drips, and receiving some rejuvenating electro-therapy. “When I recovered, we met again and realized that we all couldn’t live without 7UP, and without each other,” Aki recently said about the comeback. And the song itself bounces along in typical jaggedy, uproarious 7UPPERCUTS style.
Truc Nhan – Co Khong Giu Mat Dung Tim
Truc Nhan isn’t feeling it. His ex texted for a meet up, and he lasts only a minute or two before storming off, suspicious of her intentions. The ex pursues him right through a glass door, a swimming pool and down a staircase, as he keeps singing a reminder for her to let the relationship go. She was the one who broke up with him after all. Anyway, it turns out she only wanted to give him an invite to her upcoming wedding.
The video, shot in Saigon, makes for a fun game of spot-the-location, with Sofitel Saigon Plaza and Gem Center both making appearances. And the song is as fun as the video, with acoustic guitar breaks and big show-tune choruses,.
R.I.C – VRoom
Tlinh keeps with the motoring theme she explored with LOWG in Nguoi Di Bao with ‘VROOM’ only this time she’s partnered with R.I.C. on a track produced by self-taught super-producer NVM.
R.I.C, a star of season one of Rap Viet, disappeared from the scene for a while. It seems he spent the time wisely: “The past two years have been a golden period for me,” he said in a recent interview, “and I’ve been studying music, and absorbing and developing my craft.” And now the gravel-voiced MC, from Buon Ma Thuot, is back with another star of the TV show, Tlinh, who sprawls out on a yellow sports car and trills her way through a guest verse.
RPT MCK & Trung Tran – Chim Sau
RPT MCK returns with a waltzing mid-tempo track, ‘Chim Sau,’ accompanied by Trung Tran. And in the track, that’s a real grower, there’s the usual RPT MCK autotune and whip-smart, winding lyrics about love and longing, sprinkled with a bit of weed.
It’s a perfectly mellow sign-off for our end-of-summer music mix.