Singers skyrocket to fame with creative mix of styles

December 29, 2019 - 08:06

Vietnamese singers are proving you don't have to be a well-established top act to take a generation by storm. One hit song performed in a new style like rap combined with contemporary folk can propel virtual unknowns to stardom.



Young singers have discovered that it can be profitable to pay composers copyright fees to perform their songs exclusively. Photo from

by Thu Anh

HCM CITY  Teenage heartthrob Min became an overnight sensation when her hit song, Đừng Yêu Em Nữa, Em Mệt Rồi (Never Fall in Love Again), by musician Nguyễn Phúc Thiện was released in April. Since then, young girls have gone crazy over her music.

"One day my friends and I heard a song by Min in a coffee shop, and I fell for her immediately,” said Nguyễn Trần Bảo Nhi, a ninth grader who lives in HCM city’s Tân Bình District. “We became her fans, and now we rack up views for her music videos (MV) on YouTube."

Min, 31, is finally tasting the delights of stardom after years of hard work.

Two years ago, while Min’s colleagues like Chi Pu were achieving pop fame, she was an unknown singer with little appeal. Many of her friends warned that she would never make it since critics said her voice was weak.

Though she worked hard every day, she received little attention from audiences who knew her mostly as a beautiful girl.

Rapper Đen Vâu’s latest hit, Bài Này Chill Phết (Best Song), released in May and has attracted more than 81.5 million views on YouTube. Photo from the singer’s facebook

But she defied the naysayers when she began working with Khắc Hưng, a HCM City-based leading composer and music producer who makes music for pop stars. 

Hưng helped ensure Min's rise to fame by penning her hit single Đừng Yêu Em Nữa, Em Mệt Rồi.

The song turned Min into the kind of pop star she had always dreamed of being at a time when she was on the verge of giving up music.

Min’s voice, with its raw, angelic quality, helped the song become popular.   

Millions of new fans, mostly teenagers, loved Đừng Yêu Em Nữa Em Mệt Rồi, and made it one of the biggest hit songs of this year. Fans wrote to online music forums and radio stations about Min and her hit.

The song has attracted more than 96 million views on YouTube.

New pop idols Bích Phương and Min perform in concerts in HCM City. Photo courtesy of the organiser  

"We're tired of hearing female singers who are paid to cry for love,” one fan wrote in a music forum. “With Đừng Yêu Em Nữa, Em Mệt Rồi, Min tells a story of girls who are confident in life and love, with stronger images."

Min’s latest MV, Vì Yêu Cứ Đâm Đầu (Love is Blind), another production by musician Thiện and producer Hưng, was released last month and quickly became a hit.

More than 14.4 million people listened to the song on YouTube in just two weeks.  

Innovative styles

But with such a fickle market, it is difficult to discern whether people like a song because of its singer’s fame, lyrics or melody.

Most young people don’t enjoy folk songs, but after well-known TV actress and singer Hoàng Thùy Linh performed in a new folk style, the music became more popular. 

TV actress and singer Hoàng Thùy Linh became a star after releasing the hit single Để Mị Nói Cho Mà Nghe (Let Me Tell You), a contemporary folk song composed by DYTAP. Photo courtesy of the producer


Linh’s MV, Để Mị Nói Cho Mà Nghe (Let Me Tell You), a work featuring contemporary folk with rap by composer DYTAP and director Nhu Đặng, has been a hit phenomenon in the industry.

Để Mị Nói Cho Mà Nghe, released in June, has attracted more than 85.6 million views on YouTube.

Linh’s fame helped, but the new style also appealed to listeners.

In August, Linh released Tứ Phủ (Four Palaces), a production between composer-producer Hồ Hoài Anh and songwriter Ngân Vi.

The song features electronic and folk music with old words used in Đạo Mẫu, a form of worship of Mother Goddesses in Việt Nam.

In the work, Linh sings about Thoải Phủ (Water Palace), one of four palaces in Tứ Phủ, which consists of Thiên Phủ (Heaven Palace), Nhạc Phủ (Highlands Palace) and Địa Phủ (Earth Palace).

To enhance her performance, Linh invited DJ and rapper Triple D to mix the song.

Tứ Phủ attracted more than 3 million views three days after its release on YouTube.  

“Linh’s Tứ Phủ received criticism but it has quality. It combines traditional and modern elements,” said musician Nguyễn Văn Chung of HCM City.

“Linh and her producer created something nearly impossible when they used folk and rap in a song. Their Tứ Phủ should be the song of the year,” said Trịnh Minh Khang, a high school student from Bình Dương Province.

In November, Linh was invited to perform at the 8th Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union TV Song Festival (ABU TV Song Festival), a televised music gala event in Japan featuring artists from the Asia-Pacific region. 

She performed on Japan's public broadcasting TV channel, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), which organised the festival in co-operation with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).   

With singers rocketing to fame from one hit, some young singers are learning that it can be profitable to pay copyright fees to perform their songs exclusively.

Singer Bích Phương, for example, signed a copyright deal with her partner, songwriter and musician Tiên Cookie, to have the exclusive use of the artist’s songs, including hits Bùa Yêu (Love Charm) and Đi Đu Đưa Đi (Let’s Go).

Thanks to the deal, Phương has faced little competition becoming a new star. Her hits in electro-pop and dance have attracted several million views on YouTube. 

That success has brought her big contracts in advertising spots and performances with leading entertainment organisers.

Phương performed Đi Đu Đưa Đi before an audience of about 40,000 Vietnamese and foreign guests at the 2019 Asia Artist Awards (AAA) in Hà Nội’s Mỹ Đình National Stadium in November.

Phương appeared confident on stage with Korean pop stars and music bands such as Yoona, Super Junior, TWICE and Red Velvet.

The annual AAA event is organised by South Korean business newspaper Money Today and two global media brands, StarNews and MTN. It honours outstanding achievements and contributions of Asian artists in TV, film and music.

Unlike Linh and Phương, rapper Đen Vâu or Đen as he is called by his fans, writes his own rap lyrics.

Last year, the rapper became a breakout star in the industry with his song called Anh Đếch Cần Gì Ngoài Em (I Don’t Need Anything… Except You).

His latest song, Bài Này Chill Phết (Best Song), which was released in May, has attracted more than 81.5 million views on YouTube.

Đen’s songs are about the challenges and difficulties that youth, particularly urban residents, face today.

He won two top prizes, the Best Underground Male Singer and Most Impressive Singer, at the We Choice Awards 2018 from Zing, a social network in Việt Nam. 

In his first live show, Show của Đen (Đen’s Show), in HCM City in October, Đen sang for 10,000 fans.

“I know I will stay on the stage until nearly my last breath,” said Đen, who was a worker in Quảng Ninh Province before his singing career.

One of Đen’s fans, movie director Nguyễn Trí Viễn of FapTV, a YouTube channel from the FAP comic group in HCM City, said: "Đen’s music features my youth."

Many of these artists are undeniably talented singers, and it must be acknowledged that the creative efforts of composers and singers have done much to help transform the local music scene.  

Their hits, along with quality recordings, have fostered the development of Việt Nam's music and CD industry.

"Performers can help fans 'feel' the song in different ways. I think that's great!" said musician Chung. VNS