|Illustration by Trịnh Lập|
by An Vũ
The entertainment world is familiar with cases of many celebrated actors turning singers. Venturing into a whole new field means you have to take a risk and accept the consequences. Some paths take people to the top, while others drag one down into the abyss.
Netizens witnessed an action-packed and vociferous week following pop singer Phạm Thị Hương Tràm’s post on her Facebook page in which she said, “Why are some super adorable and gorgeous celeb girls, who I admire a lot, deciding to become singers?
"I know when I say this, I will receive a lot of negative reactions, but I still have to say it out loud as I feel offended when some of these girls try to take our jobs as a means to make money, despite the fact that they cannot sing. Hey girls, if you already have a pretty face, you should exercise and improve your knowledge.
"If you are too greedy, you will soon become corrupt or a joke for people to make fun of. You should be aware that you are much more fortunate than others out there, so better be satisfied with it.”
Below her post, the singer also comments, “I am stating this in connection with many celebs, not anyone in particular. In the future, I hope someone who has not undertaken serious study and research, will not show off a product such as this.”
Tràm, 22, was the winner of The Voice of Việt Nam first season, held in 2012. Most of her music products are painstakingly made and often rank number 1 on the Vietnamese billboard chart for several weeks. Her latest single Em Gái Mưa (I Cannot Feel Your Love) attracted 67 million views on YouTube.
Although she did not refer to a particular singer, people thought she was speaking of Nguyễn Thùy Chi (stage name Chi Pu), who rose to fame in 2009 after becoming one of the top 20 contestants at Miss Teen Việt Nam. Chi Pu went on to enter the entertainment industry and become a teen idol.
Currently, Chi Pu has the most followers of any Vietnamese actress, with over six million following her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
What could be the reason for Tràm’s unhappiness was Chi Pu’s debut music video (MV), Từ Hôm Nay (Feel Like Ooh), which attracted over 1.5 million views on top music website mp3.zing.vn.
Sharing the same opinion as Tràm, many listeners candidly called this MV a musical “disaster”, although some were less harsh in their criticism, saying her product was not good enough, but could not be called a disaster. Some others pressed dislike, which surpassed the likes for this video on YouTube.
A person nicknamed Văn Hào strongly slammed Chi Pu’s voice, commenting, “Listening to her talking is unbearable, let alone singing. Don’t think just because you have achieved fame as an actress, you can do whatever you wish.”
As a fastidious listener, I must say I have to take Văn Hào’s side, as I found no musical value and any message in this MV. Although Chi Pu spent VNĐ1 billion (US$44,000) to make this video with a South Korean production crew, the images and lyrics are completely in Korean style.
Moreover, the way she tries to mimic international music stars really disappointed me, on top of how she struggles to utter the words and the vague message she wants to deliver.
Tràm also explained her status was not for Chi Pu, but the domestic entertainment industry in general. “I hope you have respect for our audience and this industry. If you want to be a singer, you should first be able to make the audience ’listen’ to you, and not sound like you are abusing music.”
Yet, as a celebrity with a huge number of fans, Chi Pu also has significant support.
A few minutes of web surfing and it is easy to find comments such as Thanh Thảo’s “So good! Try your best my girl! Looking forward to your dream show!”, or Cát Tường’s “This is her first time being a singer, why are people comparing her with professionals?”
Another person who did not give a name felt people should support Chi Pu as she was trying to get rid of her “pretty face” image. “Although Tràm mentioned many celebs, and not just Chi Pu, she should not be making such comments, since it is Chi Pu’s hobby and an attempt to move forward. One can be an all-round artist. When I heard Chi Pu singing, I felt it was so natural and emotional, unlike Tràm, who is a professional virtuoso and is always so technical, which makes her voice lack spontaneity.”
After all though, the more controversial the MV gets, the more profitable it is for Chi Pu. She may not become a successful singer in the future, but she will undoubtedly attract attention, and therefore become more popular, since a viewer will listen to her song out of curiosity.
Around the world, there are many cases of amateur singers who have not undertaken any basic musical training, but thanks to the boom of talent shows have become well-known to the public, like Susan Boyle, a Scottish singer who came to international attention when she appeared as a contestant on the TV programme Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, singing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables.
In Chi Pu’s case, it is hard to predict whether in the future, she will become a diva or not. However, the effort she put into making the video and trying to entertain viewers is undeniable.
TV host and writer Nguyễn Thùy Minh spoke about Chi Pu’s project, “Last night, Chi Pu introduced her first musical project Feel Like Ooh. I have to say if there is a list of artists who shouldn’t sing, Chi Pu’s name would be on it. Although I really admire her for being able to do multiple things."
Hồ Ngọc Hà, for example, had not been qualified as a singer and dancer, but she has taken all the bad and good comments and turned them into motivation to move on and change the public’s negative view of her. I think what is best for Chi Pu now is she should keep trying to make more projects to prove her ability and effort.
Pop singer Nguyễn Khoa Tóc Tiên, who is famous for her comments, said “Some artists say ’only with passion, I can do anything’. We cannot keep taking the word ’passion’ as an excuse for our weak points. Art is different to other industries in one way: you love something, but you cannot do anything great without ’talent’, which cannot be gained just by practice."
Music manager Nguyễn Quang Huy, who has worked with Chi Pu on some projects, said this might just be a project to entertain her big number of fans, so what we should do is keep calm and enjoy her music.
Chi Pu herself also affirms she does not have time to care about what other singers say. “Tràm did not mention me in her status, so I do not care about that. You cannot make people like you all the time. I will accept all comments and criticism so I can do better next time.” VNS