Vietnamese contestants prefer English songs: hot or not?

Viewers of the ongoing Vietnamese version of the famed singing contest “The Voice” have been impressed by not only the stunning talent of contestants, but also the twist that many participants have chosen to sing English songs on the show.

Four coaches of The Voice Vietnam. From L - R: rocker Tran Lap, pop singers Ho Ngoc Ha, Thu Minh and Dam Vinh HungFour coaches of The Voice Vietnam. From L – R: rocker Tran Lap, pop singers Ho Ngoc Ha, Thu Minh and Dam Vinh Hung

The opening night, the first blind audition on July 8, saw a lot of contestants picking English songs for their performances.

The most outstanding contestant that night was a 17-year-old girl from Nghe An, Huong Tram, who forced three coaches, Thu Minh, Ho Ngoc Ha and Dam Vinh Hung, to turn their chairs to see her while she sang the first lines of the legendary Whitney Houston song “I Will Always Love You.” The young girl also caused a “battle” between four coaches when the last judge, Tran Lap, turned his chair and convinced her to join his team.

Some other contestants also conquered the coaches with their covers of world famous songs including Westlife’s “You Raised Me Up,” Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” and Celine Dion’s “I Surrender” and “All By Myself”.

While many audience members expressed their excitement with the performances, there were also complaints from people who expected to see more Vietnamese songs in a Vietnamese-adapted show titled “Giong Hat Viet” (The Voice of Vietnam).

Dinh Huong performed Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” at the first night on July 8

Some viewers criticized that contestants are too fond of foreign languages, while others showed their dissatisfaction since not everybody knows English and can understand what contestants sang.

The opposition continued after the second night when contestants kept bringing English songs onto the stage.

This is not the first time audiences have expressed their disagreement after seeing contestants in a talent show singing English. At the “Vietnam’s Got Talent” contest, which concluded in May, there were similar complaints when many contestants selected English songs for their performances.

Personal taste or a step into the world?

For her part, Huong Tram said singing in English is her personal interest while Xuan Nghi, who also made the four coaches turn their chairs with Beyonce’s “Listen”, said the English song will help her to show her best voice.

Another simple reason that contestants choose English songs is they feel confident singing that song, no matter if it is English or Vietnamese.

The coaches have also made responses on the subject. Singer Ho Ngoc Ha said the contest isn’t about what they sing, it’s about how they sing.

“No matter what languages you sing, no matter how you look, as long as you sing well,” singer Dam Vinh Hung, one of the four coaches, added.

Adam Lambert’s “What Do You Want From Me” covered by Phan Ngoc Luanat the second blind audition night on July 15

In recent years some local singers have also risen to fame due to English songs. Youtube sensation Thai Trinh is an example. In 2010 Trinh, who is now 19, caused a stir among local netizens with her cover of the English song “The Show”, by Australian singer Lenka. The cover has since become a launch pad for the young girl to shine in the local music industry.

Many other singers including Duc Tuan, Phuong Thao and Mai Khoi have also put effort to bring the Vietnamese music industry to the world by performing English songs, and have been well-received.

Two years ago, Khoi’s patriotic song “Vietnam” won Vietnam’s Best Song 2010. The young singer said she hoped to make the song, which is in Vietnamese and English, an introduction about Vietnam to the world.

In a similar effort, organizers of another well-known singing contest, “Vietnam Idol”, also added a round in which contestants have to perform an English song with the hope of bringing Vietnamese voices to the world.

For singer Thu Minh, it’s a must for contestants of “The Voice” to sing English on the show.

“The winner will receive a record contract with the US’s Universal label, so it’s a must for she/he to be able to sing in English,” she explained.

Xuan Nghi singing Beyonce’s “Listen”at the second blind audition

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