some critical POV

As I have once confessed, I am a closet Bằng Kiều fan. Okay, no need for you to laugh at me, I know I am a sucker for his voice regardless of how sissy it could be at times. Recently I have this urge to collect his new CDs and since I am too lazy to search for his songs on the internet and I got bored with my iTunes, I deliberately went on a scavenger hunt today for his new collections that were made in the U.S. It took me half a day, a trip from Chinatown to Quincy then curved back to Dorchester to finally bank almost $50 bucks on 5 CDs — 3 are solely his, 1 in collaborative effort with Minh Tuyết, and the last one is Trần Thu Hà’s newest album Communication ’06.

Before I write anything else about BK’s new CDs, I must say that I concurred with Donny for his critical view of TTH’s effort on Communication ’06. First of all, the translation was a bit off, while the Vietnamese title is Đối Thoại, the English translation is more likely suitable to the word Dialogue and not Communication. To me, Đối Thoại means a bit more private and personal as she is trying to get her message across as if the songs are only contained in serenity for lovers’ groove. It could also reflect the undulating inner struggle of one’s soul departing from love and is confined in the imaginary dialogue with her lover. Communication has a bit more technical connotation than dialogue and after listening to her songs, I was wondering why she chose to entitle her CD as Communication, as it was unfit for the context of what the songs aim to achieve. I tried to stay objective but after 4 years of having Communication as my undergraduate major, it was hard for me to get beyond its technical definition.

Secondly, I somehow feel that Ms. Trần is trying to be too “Americanized” too fast given the fact that she is now married to a Vietnamese-American man. The album is too ambitious for those who loved (or used to love) her previous albums with deep characters of Vietnamese style to accept or adjust. I am an old school but I don’t like the constant presence of electronically-infused beats and rhythms; it just took her voice and range away and buried it deep with whatever techniques they used to arrange the songs. Is she trying to show off her versatile idiosyncrasy in a new market? If she is then that’s a tad bit crass to start her career in a new territory. Seriously, what happened to Khoảng vắng em chờ with the infusion of subtle jazz? That song got me surviving a break-up and I put it in “repeat” mode for many months. How about Sắc Màu? That song got me back to my poetic groove. I am not a musician, and neither am I a critic, but as a listener/audience, I am quite disappointed (and I also wish to return my purchase!)

No time to write about BK’s songs so I bid you farewell right here to get my 8-hours beauty sleep. Tomorrow is my last day of being 29 year-young so I gotta take it with pride and live it to the fullest 🙂

-/-
Khoảng vắng em chờ

Anh là bài thơ không chép được
Mà đành lòng em phải thuộc từng câu
Thuộc bằng ngày nghe và đêm âm thầm hát
Thuộc bằng hè mưa và thu mơ màng nắng

Anh là màu xanh trái đất này
Ngày từng ngày nên biển mặn gừng cay
Là mắt, là tay, là giọng buồn em hát
Là mưa, là nắng, là khoảng vắng em chờ
Ôi tình yêu, tình yêu là gì?
Mà suốt đời ai đã một lần qua

-/-

22 thoughts on “some critical POV

  1. my birthday is not until tomorrow…why pushed me over to 30 so early????

    J/K.

    Hanh — thanks for your wish and thanks for stopping by this place wherever you are.

    Tran — I was down in Quincy yesterday…thought of you!

  2. Trang,

    Give me a call when you’re in Quincy if you’ld like to hang out next time…I was in Dorchester a whole day yesterday. Ddi an dda’m do^~ o*? nha` cho^`ng …I was so exhausted after I got home….

  3. I agree on your bit about translation of TTH cd “communication 06”. Doi thoai means conversation between 2 people. Communication mean simply means “su*. lie^n la.c” as to communicate. I was thinking about the same thing last month but kept it private. As to her cd, like I always said “that’s what happened when you don’t have a producer”

  4. Tran — I still have those DVDs of Ngoi Nha Hanh Phuc. 🙂 Need to return them to you. Sorry for keeping them for so long.

    Anh Trung — thank you for seeing my point of views. I loved TTH when she first appeared on the music scene. This particular album is just out of her league. She pushed too much into being “Americanized”.

  5. Trang,

    Chị nhận được CD từ TTH hôm thứ 7, chị thì không có ý kiến về title, chỉ là CD này không hay … chỉ được 1-2 bài là nghe được nhưng nó bị sound mix gì đó chiếm mất cái giọng của she rùi 😦 . So với những Cd trưo=’c thì cd này làm ở Mỹ nhưng ..uổng … Chị có 2 CD, nghe she nói là she tự làm nhưng không có cho phát hành .. những bài như “phố nghèo” “nhật thực” vv .. nghe hoài không chán ..

    UỔng thật

  6. Chị Mich — chị order online hả? Em thì không có ý định mua nhưng vì CD nó nằm kế bên anh BK nên em quơ tay lấy đại về nghe thử. Đúng là uổng công há chị…ước gì cái sound mix nó không có nhiều electric arrangement. Ủa mà sao chị có CD khác TTH làm mà không phát hành?

  7. You should definitely write more music review, so I don’t have read my own all the time 🙂

    Very interesting point via the tile. Dialogue is more suitable for Doi Thoai, but I guess she’s trying to be “techie” with Communication.

    As you could see, I took quite a bit of heat on this review with her fans. But oh well!

  8. Can’t agree with you more, QOI. TTH is too much for me now. Đo.c nhưng~ bai` phong? vân’ gân` đây thây’ TTH nga.o ma.n va` trying so hard to show off her “americanized”-self. I miss the old TTH. Chi. co’ di.p đi coi TTH ha’t khi cô ta mơi’ qua. Her voice is so powerful and pure. Hihihi. I’m also a big huge fan of BK. Happy early Birthday and Happy Hallowêen, Trang. (in case I don’t go online tomorrow) 🙂

  9. Donny – I admire your guts and the bold attitude for writing what you think. After all, it’s your POV and you must truly appreciate music to be critical. Don’t bend your back because they think you are too vulgar or too much. Heck, it’s your blog!!!

    Chị Qtee — ngày xưa em kết TTH lắm..nhưng bây giờ thì cô ta thay đổi phong cách quá nhiều, nhiều lúc hơi bị sượng. Em chưa nghe TTH hay BK hát live bao giờ, nhưng có đi coi Thu Phưong rồi. Em cũng không thích mấy cái hội tụ của người Việt mình vì nhiều khi em thấy tánh tình em hơi lạc lõng với đám đông. 🙂 Hehehe, em khó tính quá phải không?

    BTW, chị cho 2 đứa nhỏ mặc gì for Halloween? Thanks for the bday wishes chị nhé. 🙂

  10. Trang,

    Chị có người bạn nhỏ là big fan of TTH, nên chị được 2 cds kia và cd mới này cũng do she nhờ or mua, TTH ký và gởi cho chị . TTH hát chung với BK trong Thúy Nga 83 một liên khúc rất hay .. Chị cũng là big fan của she khi mà she mới lên . Chị nghe cô bạn nhỏ này nói TTH ở ngoài rất rất là nice, không có ra vẻ là ca sỹ hay chảnh gì hết, mỗi lần TTH về Montreal hát thì after show cô bạn và TTH đều đi ăn và có khi ngủ lại nhà cô này .. hehe .. chị nghe kể vậy thôi .. chưa bao giờ nhe TTH hát live

  11. oh chị Mich got some connection hả ta. Vậy là được rồi. Em cũng định order online mà mắc công đợi nên không mua nhạc ở trên mạng. Lâu lâu ra tiệm thấy cuốn nào thích thì lấy.

  12. Talking about hat’ live, Thanks Giving na`y hopefully chi. đi xem BK, Phưong Thanh, Hong` Ngoc.. ha/t (nêu’ tim` đưoc. babysitter 🙂 ) Chi. cu~ng vây., chi/ đi xem ca nha.c thôi chư’ cha’n ghet’ hôi. đoan` lăm’. Toan` la` noi’ xâu’ nhau không ha`. Co`n Hallowêen na`y, thăn`g lơn’ is torn betwêen wearing Green Power Ranger and T-Rex. Co`n co^ ut’ thi` lam the Fall Fairy. Trang co’ wear costume kho^ng? Ke^. la`m con ni’t mo^.t ngay` cung~ vui ma`.

  13. Trang,

    You can return them to me anytime. I am not planning to rewatch it soon since I have seen it twice already.

    I’m Bang Kieu’s fan too…I love his voice. People have told me he has a girly voice but what the heck, i don’t care..love it anyway. You should have told me earlier because I used to have lots of his songs in streamload that could send to you.

  14. chị Qtee — that’s one benefit for living in California, you have plenty of opportunities to see singers perform live. Most of the concerts in Boston area happen to be at casinoes quite a drive from where I live so I don’t have the luxury to enjoy such fine thing. As for Halloween, sound like fun to have young kids to dress up in costumes…I am not sure about the Power Ranger, but Fall Fairy sounds cute and “fairy tale”, remember to take photos and showcase their cuteness. 🙂

    Trân — okay, khi nào gặp sẽ trả lại…just in case I want to watch it again for the 4th times. 🙂

  15. Reading your critic about Doi Thoai 06, I can see your point there and appreciate what you dislike about the album. If you don’t like the album, that’s fine. It’s your opinion that you’re entittled to and I respect that. Trust me, you will not be taking any “heat” as Donny once did. Matter of fact, I like Ha Tran but I am not offending by your criticism. Why? simply because you criticize her voice with respect to the singer. At least you just point out what and why you don’t like the album. On the other hand, Donny took the heat because of the language he used and of course it offended some people including me. Understanding it’s his blog and he can do or say what he wants with it; however, as long as he opens the comment section, I have the right to oppose his opinion as well. If I’m not mistaken, he was compare her voice with Deep Throat movie, which he later removed that comment. If he stood by his bold attitude, might as well not remove it. There’s a fine line between real tough and pretend to be tough kind of guy. Anyway, it was the highlight of his blog. That’s why he keeps bringing it up everywhere he goes.

    Oh, I agree with you though. Ha Tran’s old work was better. Nhat Thuc no doubt was one of the best albums produced in Vietnam.

  16. Hey Luat, thanks for leaving your thoughts on my post about Ha Tran’s Communication 06. I truly am a fan of her but that album was a major disappointment for me. It has no originality although she thinks it is. I just dislike the imitation of the American’ gothic music because seemingly it isn’t suitable for Vietnamese music. It produced counter-effect to her nice etheral voice. 😀

    Donny has a soul of his own, although sometimes it gets on the nerves of other people. I still like the way he expresses himself and his perspective, not because of the use of profanity, but the reflection of original thoughts.

  17. I share similar thoughts with you on the album. I think she went overboard this time with this album. The electronic mixes are just killing the niceness of her voice. With a couple good songs in that album such as Mua Bay Thap Co and Lu Khach Song Hong, I would prefer she sings them in the original ways without sound effects.

    About Donny, I have nothing against him. As a matter of fact, I still admire his broad knowledge in a certain areas and a couple pieces of reviews he wrote in the past. Truth be told, I still visit his blog occasionally. I just disagree with his choice of words when it comes to criticize music, Vietnamese in particular. If it’s his way of expressing his thoughts, that’s fine with American hip-hop since they go well with the song lyrics. But with Vietnames music, they just don’t work well. And I mean that with all Vietnamese singers, not just with Ha Tran.

    He must have read what I wrote in your blog and it pisses him off as in his latest entry http://www.visualgui.com/?p=1140 What a hot head 🙂 I don’t think he understands the message but whatever.

  18. Luat,

    What do you think of Bang Kieu? I bought 4 of his U.S-procuded CD, one or two meet my expectation, the one with Minh Tuyet was too hmm, not sure how to explain it, but I think Bang Kieu is more of a match for Tran Thu Ha than Minh Tuyet. I just cannot stand the way Minh Tuyet deliver her performance, something about it is so superficial and fake, and has no soul.

    Sorry if you are a MT fan.

  19. I completely agree with you on BK/THH combo. Their voice are much better match than BK/MT. Have you seen LK Thang Sau Troi Mua with BK/TTH on Thuy Nga? That was a really collaboration between them two. As for BK individually, I like him in selected songs, especially when he was still in VN.

    No, I’m not a MT fan, so don’t worry there hihi…Actually I can’t stand her neither. With her weak voice and slutty performance, I would send her straight back to where she came from 🙂 I used to watch Thuy Nga videos just for Don Ho and Ngoc Ha performances, but now they’re both gone. Despite they’re a musical production company, it seems like Thuy Nga just want to retain the hot chicks with beautiful faces and sexy body, instead of truly good voices. So screw them, I ain’t watching them no more 🙂

  20. Queen,
    You should have taken the red line from Quincy to Dorchester and then to Chinatown so that you won’t feel so exhausted afterward. The problem is that the train runs rather infrequently on Sunday. As for Bangkieu’s singing, I have stopped following his career since his coming to the US. What is the point of repeating the same songs that people have been chewing on EVERYDAY, EVERY SHOW for the last 40 years or so? Assuming that he thought they can be performed in a different light, still, enough is enough. Plus, I don’t like the way he “mellows out” his northern accent and sweetens his expressions just to be please the mainstream audiences. If I need a crowd pleaser, I will just watch some ca sy “sen” (-: or some talentless slut like Tuyet Minh!

    By the way, my favorite song from Bang Kieu is Chuyen La with its rich folk-like melody and passionate lyrics. It always reminds me of my time getting lost in a taxi in Nha Trang and the radio was playing it (somebody requested that the station play it in dedication to a boyfriend/girlfriend).

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