Friday, December 26, 2014

VietCeleb.BlogSpot.com: Ngoc Lan: Featured Viet Celeb of the Day

Here it is, friends.  Check out Ngoc Lan's biography and tribute on VietCeleb.BlogSpot.com!  Ngoc Lan's story is so worthy of telling over and over again.  We'd like to share her inspiration and our love of Ngoc Lan to the world.  I hope you enjoy reading her biography on VietCeleb.  If you have any stories you'd like to share about our beloved Ngoc Lan, please either drop me an email or post it here on NgocLanRemembered.BlogSpot.com.  Thanks to all for your continued readership.





VietCeleb.BlogSpot.com: Ngoc Lan: Featured Viet Celeb of the Day


Friday, December 19, 2014

Hat Cho Tinh Yeu (To Sing With Love) - Khanh Ha and Ngoc Lan

Released in the year of 1990 by Khanh Ha Productions, this album combining two of the most celebrated female vocalists in Vietnamese popular music, Khanh Ha and Ngoc Lan, was a tremendous success and became one of the bestselling albums of the year.  With both of these Vietnamese pop music divas at the very top of their game during the time of its release, the album's tremendous level of success and massive sales really came about of no big surprise to anyone.  Ngoc Lan was riding high from the enormous successes with her pair of bestseller albums produced and released by the Giang Ngoc label during the late 1980s, Nguoi Yeu Dau (1987) and L'amour Tinh Ta (1988), topped with her stellar solo videotape that had been produced and released by May Productions, Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh (1990).  Khanh Ha was also enjoying the success of her recently formed production label, Khanh Ha Productions.  Since its inception in 1988, Khanh Ha Productions had released a series of top selling albums including her smash hit self-produced solo studio album, Mot Thuo Yeu Anh (1988), followed by another top selling solo studio album, Em Van Yeu Anh (1989).  

The quality in production of this album had, however, plenty of room for improvement.  Khanh Ha's performance on each track was nothing short of stellar.  However, Ngoc Lan's delivery of some of the tracks were somewhat lackluster.  This can be said especially with her performance on Trinh Cong Son's Tuong Rang Da Quen.  Of Ngoc Lan's performances on this album, I must say I prefer her deliveries of  Suoi Toc and Toi Dua Em Sang Song, written by Van Phung and Tran Thien Thanh (Nhat Truong).  

Khanh Ha, on the other hand, was spectacular on each performance.  I especially liked Trinh Cong Son's Ru Em Tung Ngon Xuan Nong and Marguarite Pham's Sao Danh Xa Em.  (Marguarite Pham is the same person as singer/political activist/columnist Nguyet Anh who used to perform at political rallies alongside the late Viet Dzung.)

I didn't care much for the photo album cover.  Khanh Ha's hairdo seemed so outdated.  And Ngoc Lan could have looked much better.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cho Nhau Kiep Nao (Forever Waiting) - Trinh Nam Son and Ngoc Lan Duet Album

This was a rather pleasant album combining these two great voices.  Other than Duy Quang, I'd have to say Trinh Nam Son is one very compatible male voice to duet with Ngoc Lan.  To start out the album, Ngoc Lan gives a very nice delivery of a Pham Duy classic, Mua Thu Chet.  Although I must admit, I'm a die hard fan of Julie Quang whose interpretation of this song is incomparable, in my opinion.  However, Ngoc Lan's delivery shows more than mere competence.  Ngoc Lan has a lovely way of phrasing that no other Vietnamese singer has been able to come even close to.  Trinh Nam Son gives an exceptional rendition of Lobo's How Can I Tell Her in translated Vietnamese lyrics written by Vu Xuan Hung and Ky Phat.  In the one song these two artists decided to duet together on this album, Gia Tu Tinh Yeu, their voices blended beautifully together.  I wish they had recorded many more duets on this album and throughout their careers.

The arrangements on this album were very well done.  Song by song, each arrangement was carefully crafted and very pleasing to the ear.  One of my favorites has long been Niem Dau Chon Dau.  Before hearing Ngoc Lan's version, I thought no other singer could top Khanh Ha's amazing rendition that had been featured on Khanh Ha Productions' Volume 2 of the Uptight.   I especially enjoyed Trinh Nam Son's harmonizing vocals in the background of this track.  This album is still available at Vietnamese music stores on compact disc.  If you haven't already checked out this album, pick one up soon.  It is highly worthy of listening to.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Like Us on Facebook


Ngoc Lan Remembered on Facebook has reached another milestone of surpassing 500 Likes.  At present, Facebook.com/NgocLanRemembered has a total of 585 Likes.  As in the case of other social media sites that Ngoc Lan Remembered has appeared on such as our Pinterest board and our HubPages lens, each of these offers unique features of its own.  It is with great pleasure to say that Ngoc Lan Remembered has been received impressively on each of these sites.  This is an affirmation that Ngoc Lan's music and legendary iconic status will forever remain very much alive within the hearts of her millions and millions of loyal fans.  Our sincerest appreciation and thanks go out to all of you for helping keep her memory alive.

Like Us on Facebook



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

As If She Was Still Here

I'm watching her video to Johnny, Johnny, I'm imagining as if Ngoc Lan was still here with us.  A tear came to my eyes.  I still can't believe that she is gone.  A beautiful angel has really become just that.  I miss Ngoc Lasn so very much.  I don't know what else to say but that I truly miss her.  Does anyone out there hear my cry?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ngoc Lan Remembered Pinterest Board

As I've introduced to you prior to this post, aside from NgocLanRemembered.BlogSpot.com, I have set up other pages in lieu of this blog such as our Ngoc Lan Remembered Facebook page and an article I've written about Ngoc Lan's life entitled as Ngoc Lan Remembered featured on HubPages.  Now I'd like to introduce to you a board I have created on Pinterest also simply called Ngoc Lan Remembered.  As with all of these sites and pages that have been created, Ngoc Lan Remembered on Pinterest includes a collection of beautiful photographs, data and music videos of Ngoc Lan.  Ever since the board was created, we've been blessed to have had a total of nearly 100 followers.  Check out the board for yourself and tell us what you think.  We appreciate and welcome all those interested in following the board. 


Ngoc Lan Remembered on Pinterest

 
Other Links:
 
 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha (Sunny on the Other Side) Review









To follow up with the enormous success of Ngoc Lan's solo videotape, Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh (As If I've Always Loved You), Tran Thang, the CEO and co-founder of May Productions, and Ngoc Lan once again collaborated and came up with a sophomore vehicle, Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha (Sunny on the Other Side).  Undoubtedly, there had been high anticipation given the unprecedented record of sales from Ngoc Lan's first solo videotape released back in 1990.  Nearly everyone among overseas Vietnamese audiences, including myself, couldn't wait to see what May Productions and Ngoc Lan would come out with in the years to come and if the level of success enjoyed from Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh would ever be matched or surpassed.  Such a task was deemed quite plausible for Ngoc Lan's video works, since the public had already seen such an example in her career as a recording artist a few years prior.  This was, of course, in reference to the enormous success of her 2nd solo studio album, Nguoi Yeu Dau (1987), which had become the biggest selling solo studio album ever recorded by an overseas Vietnamese recording artist, that would be nearly matched the following year with the release of her third solo studio album, L'amour Tinh Ta, which rounded out as the highest selling album for the Giang Ngoc label of the year in 1988.  For a brief while, L'amour Tinh Ta held the position of being the 2nd biggest selling solo studio album recorded by an overseas Vietnamese artist, right behind Nguoi Yeu Dau.  For an artist to hold both first and second places among the best selling studio albums in the Vietnamese music industry, as was the case of Ngoc Lan, is simply astounding to say the least.  During the latter part of the 1980s and beginning years of the 1990s, it can arguably be said that the overseas Vietnamese music industry was pretty much dominated by Ngoc Lan.

Music video productions among the Vietnamese music industry had just started to grow into fruition. The tremendous impact that music videos had made within the American mainstream music industry from the early 1980s and the birth of MTV music video channel had revolutionized world music altogether. Singers were then regarded as movie stars, as audiences now would identify a singer with not only his or her signature song but also as the star of a particular mini-movie known as a music video made for the song.  The same effect would also take place among Vietnamese singers.  Michael Jackson, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper have been accredited as the first major stars of American and world pop music videos.  Among Vietnamese singers, undoubtedly it was Ngoc Lan.

Although Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh had been so well received by Vietnamese audiences worldwide, it had received some criticism for its lack of artistic value.  Ngoc Lan indeed looked beautiful, as the camera crew of May Productions had managed to capture her essence and physical beauty for the entire world to see.  But the storyline behind the music videos featured on Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh were either weak, if not non-existent.  Aside from Khi Co Chang (Je Ne Suis Que de L'amour), the storyline on the rest of the music videos from Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh really did not make any sense. Nevertheless, we enjoyed watching them.  I'd have to say my favorite video was Doi Cho (Johnny, Johnny).  I guess you can say that would be one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures in music videos.  I loved watching how beautiful Ngoc Lan looked, how playful she was with her cute style of dancing, and even the endearing silliness of her trying to dance while standing knee deep in water of some lake.  But just what in the hell was the video all about?  Who cares?  It was more than enough for us viewers how Ngoc Lan looked so sexy dancing and changing into different wardrobes throughout the song, but toward the end of the song, we see a streetlight that shifts from the colors green, yellow and ultimately, red.  Ngoc Lan walks slowly to approach a door that would open to some mysterious room.  And just as she was about to enter, she faints and drops to the ground.  That was the music video of Ngoc Lan singing Johnny, Johnny.  It's rather funny and completely silly, but so what?  We all loved it and just couldn't get enough of Ngoc Lan.

Among the songs selected to be made into music videos featured on Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha, May Productions worked with an innovative Vietnamese-American musician, Alan Nguyen.  Unlike the videos produced on Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh, for the most part the music videos featured on Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha had each been produced and shot with a bit more of a storyline and seemed like each video had an actual script.  Actually, all but one out of the six music videos on Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha seemed to have had a script.  I'll hold off on disclosing which of the six it was because I have a feeling many of our readers already have a pretty good idea which music video I'm referring to here.  If you're not completely sure which video I'm referring to, just read on and before you are finished reading this entire post, you'll know which one I am talking about right now and hopefully will understand my reasons for thinking this way about this music video for this particular song.


Dang Tran Thuc, as in all the music videos for Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh, once again served as the director of this Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha.  Would you believe that Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen, the star of Paris By Night videos series presently, had also worked on this project as assistant director?  There is no doubt in my mind that she had contributed a lot of input to the making of this videotape.  I'm just really surprised that Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen had managed to remain as assistant director of this project rather than take over as the director, judging from my own few experiences working with her in the past.  I don't mean that in a negative way.  It's just that, based on my observations of Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen, she seems like a perfectionist and a take-charge type of individual.  But whoever it should be accredited to, I must say that the brave attempts at being innovative on this videotape production are rather impressive.  But keep in mind, this was still a Vietnamese music video production where no matter what, the star would always have to appear at all times looking flawlessly beautiful.  The production team behind May Productions was fully aware of that. Therefor, Ngoc Lan would appear in full make-up at all times, regardless if she was portraying someone imprisoned, a mental ward patient, or even a girl who had just woken up in the morning. That is just the absolute requirement by Vietnamese law universally understood in the field of entertainment, a law permanently set in stone with no possibility of amendment what so ever.  Every Vietnamese person on earth is aware of this law from as early on as childbirth and refers to such more so as common knowledge.  Put it this way, to Vietnamese people, the likelihood of man one day being able to sprout wings and fly like birds is much greater than a Vietnamese singer or actress ever appearing on stage or the big screen without any make-up.  The latter would just be humanly impossible.

The first music video featured on this volume was Mua Thu Ru Em, a song written and composed by Duc Huy.  I really enjoyed this one. However, as I've noticed, this did not fair out so well with the Vietnamese general audience simply because Ngoc Lan did not appear in the video wearing any glamorous wardrobes.  From beginning to end, she was seen dressed in the costume of a cave girl.  I thought she looked seductive.  But for a singer to appear on video not wearing a designer evening gown filled with sequins is just an impossible sale with Vietnamese audiences.  That is just how it goes.

Three of the six in total videos on this videotape were made for three original songs:  Mal de Toi, Prisoner of Love, and Whenever You Come To Me, all written and composed by Alan Nguyen for Ngoc Lan.  Ngoc Lan's voice was in top form in the audio recordings of these three songs from Alan Nguyen, and each of the videos for these songs would contain ample footage of Ngoc Lan looking sensational and glamorous changing in and out of one beautiful wardrobe after another.  Therefor, it was really of no surprise that these three music videos of Alan Nguyen-penned new songs were sure shot favorites with Vietnamese audiences.  Ngoc Lan obviously had good taste in clothing, and as always looked great in every wardrobe she was seen wearing on video.  But I must concede, especially in the music video for Mal de Toi, it would have been a whole lot better if May Productions had hired a professional choreographer to help her out, or at least enrolled Ngoc Lan in some professional dance lessons.  Just watching Ngoc Lan looking cute, smiling and wiggling back and forth while lip synching the lyrics to Johnny, Johnny on Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh was charming enough to make Vietnamese audiences love and adore Ngoc Lan even more and deem the video as enjoyable to watch and entertaining.  However, the same approach did not work on Mal de Toi, as the lack of choreography was quite apparent and Ngoc Lan's limited dance moves just simply got old before even the first minute into the video.  She looked really bored trying to dance by herself in front of the camera.  But could anyone blame her?

Whenever You Come to Me is a lovely song written and composed by Alan Nguyen with a gentle melody and beautiful lyrics both in English and Vietnamese.  Yes, Ngoc Lan was seen in this video singing in English.  There had been no question that Ngoc Lan's singing in the French language was an exceptional trademark of hers and how she had been so successful with her recorded covers of French love songs where her French sounded as effortless as her Vietnamese.  But up until then, it had seemed that English was a language she often struggled with on many of her recordings of American love songs.  Her performance with Whenever You Come to Me, as well as Prisoner of Love are clear examples that she had indeed come a long way with the English language.  Her pronunciation in English with these two songs were a far cry from Casablanca recorded on her first solo studio album and other songs she had recorded in English from her earlier days.  This was just another example of how Ngoc Lan had grown as an artist.

Like in her first solo videotape, Ngoc Lan chooses to round out this second solo videotape with a classic Vietnamese tune; a popular song written by Tuan Khanh, Noi Niem.  This decision and the art direction of the music video to Noi Niem seemed too much like a replica of Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh, in which the final music video was of the song written by Trinh Cong Son, Tuoi Da Buon.  Just like how Tuoi Da Buon had been the least entertaining video on Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh,  in my opinion, Noi Niem was the least entertaining and most uneventful out of the six music videos featured on Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha. 

The one video I found to be rather ridiculous with an unclear storyline, and can even be downgraded to being utterly ridiculous the more times I've watched it, was Mua Dong Sap Den.  Years ago, I had heard Ngoc Lan's recorded version of this song on a compilation cassette of Duc Huy songs consisting of several other female recording artists like Kieu Nga, Thuy Vi, Bich Ha, Nhu Mai and Ngoc Lan, entitled as Em! released under Da Lan music label.  I didn't care much for Ngoc Lan's delivery of this song.  This song had also been recorded by Khanh Ha on her solo studio album, Ngay Ngat Ben Anh (1987), released by Diem Xua Productions, which would later be retitled as Coi Tinh when it was released on compact disc.  Khanh Ha's superb rendition of Mua Dong Sap Den has since then overshadowed all others.  Out of all the songs Ngoc Lan had recorded throughout her career, Mua Dong Sap Den would be one of my least favorites.  Her vocals for this song seemed rather lifeless and mundane.  The art direction and storyline on the music video of Ngoc Lan's version of Mua Dong Sap Den only further perpetuated my sentiment.  Besides two very brief footages of Ngoc Lan walking in the snow in this video, which would represent something having to do with winter at least, most of the clips put together for this song seemed like a mishmash of seasons and events totally without any sort of correlation.  I couldn't help but wonder just what the scriptwriter, editor and director of this video were all trying to do with Mua Dong Sap Den.  In the music video for this song, Ngoc Lan was seen walking on the beach, lying on a hammock on what seemed like a hot summer day, wearing a backless dress out in the desert, and attending an outdoor wedding as the guest who catches the bouquet thrown by the bride.  Now keep in mind, this was a song called Mua Dong Sap Den (Coming Winter).  After watching the music video several times, I guess, all I can say is, well, uh.... perhaps the only thing that would have made it totally complete would be if Ngoc Lan had appeared wearing a bathing suit on some tropical island and then maybe a few clips of Ngoc Lan dressed as either a nun or can-can dancer walking along the Seine River.  In other words, huh?

Ngoc Lan's sophomore video effort, Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha, upon its release generated high sales, unsurprisingly.  Despite its greater artistic value, the popularity of Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha would not match anywhere near the massive level Ngoc Lan had enjoyed with her first solo videotape, Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh.  Although Ngoc Lan did look beautiful on this videotape, she just didn't appear as glamorous as she did in Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh.  I believe that was probably one of the main factors of it being not as popular as her first solo videotape.  Nevertheless, Mat Troi Ben Kia did turn out to be a successful vehicle for both May Productions and Ngoc Lan.  It was well received by the audience, especially among her loyal fans, and was in no way a discredit to Ngoc Lan as a Vietnamese music video star.  It just wasn't as grand as Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh.

By the way, all six of these songs featured on this videotape would be released on compact disc by May Productions almost a decade later.  The title given to this compact disc would also be Mat Troi Ben Kia Mua Ha and would include six other songs Ngoc Lan had recorded for May Productions that had yet to be released.  Although it would technically be Ngoc Lan's 11th solo studio album, in actuality this was more like a compilation album consisting of some of Ngoc Lan's recorded songs at different times for May Productions.  This album was released in 1999 by May Productions, when Ngoc Lan was no longer actively recording for the label.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lam Thuy Van Vs. Ngoc Lan

Ever since Lam Thuy Van has been in the spotlight, many people have unfairly compared her to Ngoc Lan.  Is it because they look alike?  In several pictures, I'll say that is the case.  Is it because they sound alike?  In several songs, there is a similarity in their voices.  I thought so at first.  But I must say Lam Thuy Van definitely has come up with a sound of her own.  She also has a unique style which is why she has lasted in the business.  I like both Ngoc Lan and Lam Thuy Van.  The more I have listened to Lam Thuy Van, I've discovered the more I like her.

Let's take an example, one song the both of them have recorded, Ngay Vui Nam Ay.  At first, I thought, how could Lam Thuy Van even compare to Ngoc Lan?  Among Vietnamese singers, this is definitely Ngoc Lan's song.  But the closer I listened to Lam Thuy Van's voice, there is a certain timber in her voice that Ngoc Lan does not have.  Lam Thuy Van sounds as if she is talking to us, telling us a story, an entirely different approach than Ngoc Lan had done in this song.  It wasn't until I saw Lam Thuy Van perform live that I really started to become her fan.  She's mesmerizing on stage.


As for her appearance, Lam Thuy Van has this exotic look about her.  After all, she is part-Pakistani, part-Vietnamese, how exotic is that?  Lam Thuy Van is absolutely gorgeous.  Her looks are not in any way comparable to that of Ngoc Lan or anyone else I've seen.  Although Ngoc Lan was very beautiful, she was never as striking as Lam Thuy Van.

Which of these two lovely ladies do I prefer?  None, I'd say.  I love them both.  Ngoc Lan was a legend, irreplaceable in my opinion.  But Lam Thuy Van is in a class all by herself.  Can she ever replace Ngoc Lan?  Of course, not.  But she doesn't need to.  She's Lam Thuy Van.  No one can ever replace Lam Thuy Van, either.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Author's Selection of Ngoc Lan's Best Duets

Ngoc Lan had recorded many duets with many different singers throughout her career, both male and female.  Ngoc Lan's soft, gentle singing voice can be described as the epitome of femininity.  Perhaps that is why her voice was so compatible for duets with male artists.  Among the male artists Ngoc Lan had recorded duets with were Don Ho, Huy Sinh, Jo Marcel, Trung Hanh, Elvis Phuong, Nhat Truong, Vu Khanh, Chau Dinh An, Si Phu, Duc Huy, Trinh Nam Son, and of course, Duy Quang.

There was a pleasant melange, like a perfect blend of the male and female voice, which came about when Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang paired up to record a duet.  The chemistry between the two voices was undeniably magical. This was proven with the high sales these two artists experienced with their first duet album together, Bien Mong, released in 1987 by Kim Ngan, and again with Tinh Phai, released in 1989 by Dream Musical Productions.  Both Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang were aware of how compatible their voices were for duets. That is why they recorded duet albums together a total of three times.  Their last duet album recorded together was entitled Ta Say, released in 1994 by Ngoc Lan Musique.

Nhu Mai and Kieu Nga had each recorded duets with Ngoc Lan.  Similar to the popularity Ngoc Lan had experienced on duets with Duy Quang, her duets with Kieu Nga were widely received by Vietnamese audiences everywhere.  The most popular duet song recorded by these two ladies would undoubtedly be Anh Thi Khong (Toi Jamais).  The music video to that song alone was reason enough for the song's popularity with Vietnamese audiences.

Here are my selections of the best duets Ngoc Lan had recorded with another artist.

1.  Anh Thi Khong (Toi Jamais) - Ngoc Lan & Kieu Nga

Of course, this song had to be included.  Who doesn't like this version recorded by the top two Vietnamese queens of French music?  This song was featured on Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga's duet album released by May Productions, Paris Van Doi.  Vietnamese lyrics for this song were written by Vu Xuan Hung.

2.  Neu Xa Nhau - Ngoc Lan & Duy Quang

Featured on their first duet album together, Bien Mong, released by Kim Ngan (1987).  This Duc Huy penned love song was done best as a duet by these two.

3.  Mua Dong Cua Anh - Ngoc Lan & Duy Quang

I loved this song ever since I heard the original version recorded by Nhat Truong and Thanh Lan prior to 1975.  But I must say, Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang added a certain distinct charm of their own with their version featured on their second duet album together, Tinh Phai, released by Dream Musical Productions (1989).  This song was written by Tran Thien Thanh AKA Nhat Truong, of course.

4.  Tren Dinh Mua Dong - Ngoc Lan & Nhat Truong                                 

Featured on the Ngoc Lan and Nhat Truong duet album, Chan Troi Tim, released by May Productions, this has been one of my favorite songs writeen by Tran Thien Thanh ever since I can remember.  I love how Ngoc Lan's voice blended so well with Nhat Truong's, similar to that of Thanh Lan and Nhat Truong's recorded duets together from way back in the day.

5.  Nguoi Lia Xa (Tu T'en Vas) - Ngoc Lan & Elvis Phuong

Elvis Phuong had recorded many great albums in the 1980s.  Among them was this unforgettable album, Lady Nguoi Toi Yeu, released in 1988, which comprised of a collection of French love songs he recorded with several female vocalists such as Kieu Nga, Minh Xuan and Ngoc Lan.  Vietnamese lyrics to this song were written by Nhat Ngan.

There you have it.  That was my selection of the top 5 duet songs recorded by Ngoc Lan.  What were some of your favorite duet songs Ngoc Lan had recorded?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ngoc Lan 10: Hanh Phuc Noi Nao (Unfound Joy) Album Review


Ngoc Lan's 10th solo studio album produced and released by May Productions is considered to be technically her last solo studio album for the label.  If indeed this had been originally intended as the farewell solo studio album by Ngoc Lan for May Productions, I believe this was the perfect vehicle for her to go out with a bang, for lack of a better expression.  The extreme high quality in production of this album is quite evident.  As with most of Ngoc Lan's albums, the arrangements involve musician Thanh Lam and the sound and recordings were top-notch.  The title track, Hanh Phuc Noi Nao Unfound Joy), with Ngoc Lan's effortless and flawless vocals has become one of her most unforgettable signature ballads.

All 10 of the tracks included on this album are enjoyable, to say the least.  Another track that would also become a signature tune for Ngoc Lan featured on this album is Ngay Vui Nam Ay (Magic Boulevard).  I personally adore Mua He Nam Ay, as well as Yeu Anh Lan Dau (Nostalgie Cinema) and a song with beautiful Vietnamese lyrics written by singer Julie Quang, Noi Sau.  Ngoc Lan's voice was in top form throughout this album.  Hanh Phuc Noi Nao is the perfect vehicle which showcases many of Ngoc Lan's amazing talents as an artist and reaffirms how magical and irreplaceable her voice was.  Ngoc Lan really did possess the singing voice of an angel.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author's Selection of Top 10 Ngoc Lan Songs



Selecting which are my favorite songs recorded by Ngoc Lan is definitely a difficult task.  There are just so many.  It has been documented that Ngoc Lan had recorded a total of 800 songs throughout her career.  I don't exactly know just how many of those songs I've heard.  But since I do own quite a few compact discs and old audio cassettes of Ngoc Lan that I probably have heard most of them. Right off the top of my head, I can already think of over 30 songs recorded by Ngoc Lan that I really love and consider to be my favorites.  But I do realize that this is not a book I'm writing here, but just only a post for this blog that shouldn't be too long and boring.  So I've narrowed it down to a list of my favorite 10 songs recorded by Ngoc Lan.

Each of these songs on this list holds some sort of special memory for me.  Tell me what you think about the songs on this list.  I'd love to know what  your favorite songs recorded by Ngoc Lan are. Let's see if our tastes are similar.


My Top 10 Favorite Ngoc Lan Songs


1. Tinh - Written by the legendary great Vietnamese songwriter/ composer Van Phung, this has been one of my favorite songs with its jazzy melody and brilliant lyrics.  I first heard this song from Ngoc Lan's 2nd solo album, Nguoi Yeu Dau, when it was first released only on audio cassette in 1987 by Giang Ngoc.  Her performance on this song really impressed me, especially with her ability to effortlessly keep up with the arrangement's bouncy tempo.  To this day, I've yet to hear any other singers match Ngoc Lan's flawless rendition of this Van Phung classic.

2. Noi Buon - Another great song written and composed by Van Phung that was also featured on the same album, Nguoi Yeu Dau.  Ngoc Lan's sweet gentle voice was just perfect for it.  What do you know?  This is another great song written and composed by Van Phung and sung perfectly by Ngoc Lan. There may be a connection here.  Actually, I've heard Ngoc Lan's recordings of other Van Phung songs, and I've loved them all.  These two just happen to be my favorites.  

3.  Hoi Nguoi Tinh - Translated Vietnamese lyrics for this song had been written by none other than our beloved, Ngoc Lan, herself.  Ngoc Lan shocked a lot of her fans with her other talent as a lyricist with this song.  How could anyone not be mesmerized when hearing her sing, "Hoi nguoi tinh, van biet anh khong he yeu, sao em van doi cho trong hat hiu" (Oh my love, though I know you don't love me, why do I keep waiting for you in sorrow).... This song was also featured on the album, Nguoi Yeu Dau.  Therefor, it is fairly obvious that Nguoi Yeu Dau is one of my favorite albums of Ngoc Lan ever, given how 3 songs from this album are on this list.  

4.  Neu Vang Anh - Lyrics by Nguyen Sa and Music by Anh Bang.  I had heard this song recorded by several other singers before and frankly, I really didn't care much for the song until I heard Ngoc Lan's version.  She sings this song as if she is telling a story.  I find her delivery especially charming and really pleasant to listen to.  This recording was featured on a compilation cassette with various other artists produced by Phuong Hoang in 1988.  The album title was, Mua Thu Paris, and featured the gorgeous model, Thanh Hang, on the cover.  

5.  Ngay Ngat Ben Anh (Je M'envole) - Ngoc Lan covered this French tune originally sung by Nicole Riu in both French and Vietnamese translated lyrics that were written by Pham Duy.  As often been the case with many of Ngoc Lan's recorded covers of French love songs, I liked Ngoc Lan's version much more than the original.  This recording was also featured on a compilation album with various other artists, Nhac Phap Tru Tinh (Les Chansons d'Amour), produced by singer Trung Hanh and released by Nguoi Dep Binh Duong in 1988.  Other artists included on this compilation album were Kieu Nga, Julie (Julie Quang), Elvis Phuong, Minh Xuan and Trung Hanh. 

6.  Hanh Phuc Noi Nao - This was the title track to her 10th solo album.  The lovely Vietnamese lyrics sung by Ngoc Lan on this French love ballad was written by the late Trinh Lam Ngan.  All I can say about this beautiful song is how can anyone not love it?

7.  Mua Tren Bien Vang - Ngoc Lan had said it herself that this was the song she felt closest to the audience whenever she had performed it at her live shows.  Unfortunately, I did not ever see her perform this song live.  But just from listening to her recorded studio version, I can just imagine how she would enchant the audience as they watched her serenade this song to them.

8.  Khi Nang Yeu (Une Femme Amoureuse)  -  Originally titled as Woman in Love, this song was written by Barry Gibb for Barbra Streisand.  Nobody can compare to Miss Streisand's original recording.  However, judging from Barbra's past attempts to sing in French from Je M'appelle Barbra, let's just say I'm glad she didn't decide to record this song in French, as well.  I believe Mireille Mathieu was the singer who had recorded the French version to this song.  I've never cared much for Mireille Mathieu's tormented vibrato, so reminiscent of Edith Piaf.  I preferred Ngoc Lan's interpretation in French and Vietnamese.  By the way, this song was on Ngoc Lan's 3rd solo album, L'amour Tinh Ta, and the Vietnamese lyrics were written by Pham Duy. 

9.  Em Van Nho Toi Anh (Je Pense Encore à Lui) -  I loved Mimi Hetu's original version.  But Ngoc Lan's cover of this song was just as beautiful.  Featured on her first solo album, Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan, since then no other Vietnamese singer has ever recorded this song.  I wonder why.  It's so beautiful.  

10.  Phu Du -  Written by Phan Kien, I've only heard one other artist record this song.  And that was Khanh Ha.  Although Khanh Ha had done a fine job with her recorded version, I prefer Ngoc Lan's version which had been featured on Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang's 1st duet album together, Bien Mong (1987).  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ngoc Lan 9: Tinh Xua (Nostalgic Love)

Ngoc Lan's 9th solo studio album, Tinh Xua (Nostalgic Love) was a continuation of her triumphant 8th album, Dau Yeu Khon Nguoi (Love That Never Fades).  It was apparent that Ngoc Lan was trying to recapture the massive appeal she had enjoyed with her second solo album, Nguoi Yeu Dau (My Precious Love) released a decade prior with these two albums.  And she did just that with one beautiful delivery after another in this carefully crafted compact disc of 12 beautiful love ballads.  By this time in her career, Ngoc Lan had surely found her niche in easy listening music and was also then undoubtedly conscious of her audience's admiration of Duc Huy, as well as the extreme compatibility of her sweet, delicate voice when paired up with Duc Huy's style of musical compositions.

Nhu Da Dau Yeu (As My True Love) was a major hit penned by Duc Huy.  Although singer Julie, also known as Julie Quang, had been the first to record this tune and did make the song popular among Vietnamese music lovers, for many of Ngoc Lan's loyal fans, the version recorded and featured on this album would naturally be the more preferred.  Ngoc Lan manages to create a delightful signature sound to this song with a much softer, soothing approach along with appropriately gentler arrangements that accommodated, rather than overpower her voice.  Besides this song, Ngoc Lan had also chosen to include three other Duc Huy penned tunes for this album, Va Con Tim Da Vui Tro Lai  (And My Heart Is Happy Again), Mau Mat Nhung (Velvet Eyes) and the most memorable, Khoc Mot Dong Song (I've Cried a River).

This is an album definitely for Ngoc Lan's fans.  The selection of the songs for this album was exceptional.  All 12 of the songs were the perfect choice for Ngoc Lan's voice.  My personal favorite track on this album was Ngoc Lan's cover of a Nguyen Trung Cang-penned classic, Nang Ha(Summer Sunshine).  Although previously recorded by countless other vocalists, Ngoc Lan's effortless performance of Nang Ha seemed as if the song had been written only for her to sing.  After hearing Ngoc Lan's recorded version of Nang Ha on this album, I can never listen to any other vocalist's cover of this song ever again.  One other track worthy of mentioning on this album was Ngoc Lan's cover of the Chinese originally composed popular love ballad, Boulevard, in which she had recorded with her own self-written lyrics in Vietnamese with the given title, Con Duong Tinh.  Like she had done quite often on her previous solo studio albums, Con Duong Tinh is clearly another example which exemplified Ngoc Lan's talents also as a lyricist.

The only criticism I might have of this album is the photo that had been selected for the cover.  Although Ngoc Lan looked beautiful like always, whoever had done her make-up apparently went a bit overboard.  I'm not used to seeing Ngoc Lan in such heavy make-up, especially wearing shocking red lipstick.  It didn't even look like her.  Call me old fashioned, but I've always enjoyed Ngoc Lan's more softer and elegant look.  Afterall, that was the look in which we all had grown accustomed to with Ngoc Lan and also what had made us all fall in love with her.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What Is Kelvin Khoa Like?

I'm sure a lot of people want to know what is Ngoc Lan's husband like.  Well, all I can say is he is about the nicest guy you could possibly meet.  I had a chance to work with Kelvin Khoa on my album, "Ngay Em Di".  Here is an absolutely nice guy who loves his wife, and loved what he did for a living.  He remastered among my songs, "Lemon Tree" and a song recorded by Ngoc Hue, "Pho Xa".  He asked me to re-record a line on "Lemon Tree", telling me, "You did this song almost perfectly.  Chi Lan and I really enjoy it, except for the last line."  Now, how can I argue with someone like that?

I had no idea who he was when Ngoc Hue had introduced me to him.  I didn't attend Ngoc Lan's wedding.  Therefore, I didn't know who he was.  Small world, isn't it?  But when I found out who he was, I couldn't help but to ask him about Ngoc Lan.  I wanted to know how she was doing and if she remembered me.  And sure enough, his answer was yes, she did remember.  And the fact that her favorite song out of all the songs I had recorded on the "Ngay Em Di" CD made it even more special. 

On the day of her funeral, I went up to him and gave him a hug.  I said how much I loved Ngoc Lan.  He looked at me and said, "I know, em.  She loved you, too."  Just the thought of that still brings me to tears. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ngoc Lan as a Live Performer


Many have told me that Ngoc Lan as a live performer did not live up to her recordings.  I've only seen her perform once and that was in 1990 at the Long Beach Hoa Hau Ao Dai Beauty Pageant.  I thought she was marvelous.  She did have a soft voice.  But to me, that was part of Ngoc Lan's charm.  She didn't have to scream and yell to be heard.  She just sang. 

Perhaps many are referring to that performance in 1994 at the Anaheim Marriott.  I didn't attend that concert.  But from what I've heard, she was rather off.  One must understand that was during the time when her illness had already taken over.  I guess I was fortunate enough to have watched her perform back when she was still in top form.  How she sang "Viens M'embrasser" and "Nguoi Yeu Dau" just blew me away.  If only she could perform for all of us today.  That thought crosses my mind everyday. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ngoc Lan 8: Yeu Dau Khon Nguoi

Ngoc Lan was on a winning streak.  There wasn't anything she touched that didn't turn gold.   This collection of beautiful Vietnamese love songs is indeed a delicious affair.  Among my favorites were "Nang Thu", "Di Vang", "Tinh Yeu Den Trong Gia Tu", and "Quen Di Tinh Yeu Cu".  Ngoc Lan's voice had clearly matured in this recording project.  Never before had I heard Ngoc Lan sing with such passion.  This is definitely one of Ngoc Lan's best works ever.  I can listen to this album over and over again and never get tired of her beautiful voice.  This is an album that was indeed hard to critique, because honestly there is nothing to critique.  In many ways, this album reminds me of her work on one of her earlier albums that we all loved, "Nguoi Yeu Dau". 
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ngoc Lan 7: Mai Mai Yeu Anh (Loving You Always)

Out of all the studio solo albums Ngoc Lan had recorded for May Productions, this was my personal favorite.  From beginning to end, all 12 of the tracks are delightful.  Ngoc Lan really does put her all each recording.  Everything from the selection of the songs to the enchanting translated Vietnamese lyrics for each song to the photograph on the album cover was nothing short of top notch.  Among the 12 tracks, my personal favorite were "Hay Den Voi Nhau" (Joe le Taxi), "Mua Tren Bien Vang", "Cho Nhau Tinh Yeu" (Tropique), and "Nguoi Yeu Dau Oi" (Je Suis D'Accord).  I was even impressed with her rendition of "Unchained Melody", a song I didn't think was really meant for her voice.  But Ngoc Lan surprisingly pulled it off. 

"Mua Tren Bien Vang" has been one of my all-time favorite songs recorded by Ngoc Lan.  Personally, I thought she should have selected this for the title track.  Other than that, the production of this solo studio album of Ngoc Lan was simply flawless. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Was Ngoc Lan Aware of Her Destiny?


I've watched this interview over and over again.  It's rather haunting, I might say.  When actor Tran Quang asked her what she would do if she were to one day get married and her husband would oppose to her continuing with her singing career, Ngoc Lan answers at first by saying that she would find a way to persuade him by begging him.  Then when Tran Quang continues by persistently asking her, what if he still would not allow her to continue singing?  Ngoc Lan's answer was that she would probably die if she couldn't continue to sing. 

This interview was featured on the Hollywood Night music video series produced by May Productions.  At the time of this interview was after when she discovered that she had been stricken with the incurable disease, multiple sclerosis, in 1992.  I wonder if this was her way of reaching out to her audience about her illness.   

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ngoc Lan 6: Khuc Tinh Cho Anh (Songs For You) Album


Ngoc Lan's 6th solo studio album released at the beginning of 1991 was really unlike the rest of her other albums.  For one thing, it wasn't really a solo recording project completely since the album had included two very long medleys, each recorded as duets with Trung Hanh.  And several of the songs selected for this album were songs Ngoc Lan had either partially recorded as part of a medley in the past for other music production labels, such as "Yeu Nhau Di" (Besame Mucho) and "Nhung Loi Me Hoac" (Paroles), or had previously recorded in its entirety, in the case of "Khi Co Chang" (Je Ne Suis Que de L'amour).  "Yeu Nhau Di" was probably the most enjoyable to listen to out of the three previously mentioned tracks on this album, while the other two were rather disappointing. 


I'm assuming since the music video that Ngoc Lan had made for the song, "Khi Co Chang", from her solo music videotape produced and released by May Productions a year ago, was so tremendous in popularity, her producers probably thought a reprisal track to be included on her next solo studio album would be a good idea.  Perhaps their calculations were right since many of her fans were just enthralled by how Ngoc Lan sounded with her cover of this Nicole Croisille classic,  /The Vietnamese audience really had fallen in love with that song after hearing Ngoc Lan's
recorded version on video and just couldn't get enough of it.  But for those fans of Ngoc Lan such as myself who are a bit fussier, with higher expectations for our idol, we found the album version of this song a total disappointment.  The track we heard in the music video, Ngoc Lan had sung beautifully in both French and Vietnamese lyrics.  The album version of "Khi Co Chang" had the exact same music arrangements, but was recorded only in Vietnamese.  For many of Ngoc Lan's fans who particularly like the way she sings in French, the album version left us with utter dissatisfaction.  But since Ngoc Lan had already made us fall in love with the song with that fantastic music video, it can be forgivable that she had left out recording the French lyrics on the album version of the song.  However, the laziness and careless production on the track, "Nhung Loi Me Hoac" (Paroles), in which Ngoc Lan recorded as a solo number, leaving out entirely the male-spoken lyrics really went beyond any chances for forgiveness.  It sounded ridiculous!  The lyrics to the song set up a dialogue, and it was meant to be performed as a duet.  Only the lyrics for the male vocalist are to be spoken only in the song, while the female vocalist sings the melody and chorus.  If the song is not performed as a duet, then there really would be no purpose.

This was the cover photo
 for the album originally
 released in 1990
  available only on cassette.
If I had to choose what would be my least favorite of Ngoc Lan's extensive body of work as a recording artist, I'd have to say that it would be her recordings of medleys, known as "lien khuc" in Vietnamese.  There was a good number of years when medleys were a popular fad in the Vietnamese music industry.  Every Vietnamese music label had to come out with these annoying, silly medley cassettes.  It was like a plague.  And almost every artist was jumping on the bandwagon to record these medleys.  I really couldn't figure out how medleys had become so popular.  When you think about it, medleys were nothing more than just a sctambling of a bunch of mismatched songs lumped together in one monotonous upbeat tempo.  I can see why the music producers liked medleys, because they were a lot cheaper to make.  But why did the Vietnamese audience like medleys so much? 

Ngoc Lan's 6th solo studio album, given how it was released in 1991 when medleys had reached its height in popularity among Vietnamese audiences, would also include two of these annoying medley tracks.  I must say, the medleys on this album were much more carefully produced   than most of the other medleys I've heard from Ngoc Lan on other music labels.  But they are still medleys.  Another sure sign that Ngoc Lan was trying very hard to keep up with the times with this album was her selection of "Lambada" as the first of many songs for one of the two medleys.  To keep up with a Latin dance craze that had recently swept the nation in America, including the Vietnamese community, Ngoc Lan sang "Lambada" in French to begin with the medley of songs.  I must admit that "Lambada" sung in French by Ngoc Lan sounds irresistibly charming.  To this day, this medley recorded by Ngoc Lan and Trung Hanh with only a small excerpt of "Lambada" sung in French lyrics at the beginning is one my biggest guilty pleasures.  The album did include two tracks in particular that captured the essence of Ngoc Lan's vocal talents; "Niem Dau Noi Nho" (Eternal Flame) and "Nguoi Yeu Oi Gia Tu" (Sayonara Means Goodbye).  The beautiful interpretations by Ngoc Lan on these two tracks are glorious enough to even cause the most disappointed fan to overlook most of this album which had been so poorly produced.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ngoc Lan and the Men She Loved

During the time of my friendship with Ngoc Lan, she was still a very young woman.  Beautiful, young, successful, classy, educated, but she had yet to have a ring worn on her finger.
As a single woman, who was also young and beautiful, it was not surprising that Ngoc Lan would have her fair share of suitors pining away for her heart.  But this young, beautiful single woman also had a very successful career, another quality that made Ngoc Lan an even better catch to potential suitors.  But there was one other quality she had that would send her over the edge, and that was....besides being a young, beautiful and successful single woman, she was also Ngoc Lan.


Duc Huy and Ngoc Lan
Like she had explained to me, being who she was, and having such tremendous fame and success, many men found her to be intimidating.  Please keep in mind that I didn't write this post with any intention of dishing out any private details about her personal life.  But I did get to meet a nice man by the name of Thanh Lam, a famous saxophone player in the Vietnamese community, who was then her boyfriend.  He was very charming, as well as good looking.  Together, I thought they were an attractive and classy couple.  But Ngoc Lan was extremely busy with her career, as he equally was with his. However their relationship ended, that is between them.  Unlike many other females, Ngoc Lan never was the type to be talking endlessly on the telephone or writing notes to her boyfriend. I never once heard of any story from other singers of Ngoc Lan ever causing any public scene fighting with a boyfriend.  That was not Ngoc Lan's style.  She was much more mature and always carried herself like a lady.


Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang on their
last duet album together.

Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang
recorded some of the most
successful duet albums in the
overseas Vietnamese music industry
throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang paired up
for the second time on a duet
album that had been produced
and released in 1990 by Dream Musical
Productions.

When someone looks the way Ngoc Lan did, it is expected that members of the opposite sex will tend to take notice quite often.  I saw this happen quite a few times whenever I had gone places with her.  Now, as far as the places that we went to where we were surrounded by Vietnamese people everywhere, I really can't say that Ngoc Lan would have men cluster to her trying to ask her out on a date.  Afterall, she was Ngoc Lan.  I'm certain that many Vietnamese men wanted to, but this was Ngoc Lan we're talking about here.  Her fame in addition to her beauty, although were attractive qualities, simply intimidated a lot of Vietnamese men.


Ngoc Lan and Tuan Ngoc


Tuan Anh and Ngoc Lan -
What is there to say except that
the Vietnamese rumor mills
can be quite creative at times?

Trinh Nam Son and Ngoc Lan at a live performance.

I do remember one particular occasion when she and I had gone to Neiman Marcus so she could try on this dress she had recently purchased there and had sent back for alterations.  While she waited for the sales clerk to return from the stock room with the dress after the completed alterations, this handsome Caucasian man who was also a patron at the department store obviously was deeply enchanted by her beauty.  As he struck up a conversation by saying hello to her, followed by "You are very beautiful."  I was amazed at how she handled it.  Up until then, I had only seen how most other Vietnamese girls usually responded in similar situations.  It was either one of two ways, both of which I don't particularly care for.  The first way is really annoying.  For some reason, a lot of Vietnamese girls tend to think that it is cute if they should talk in the most meekest volume as if they were trying to impersonate the voice of  an infant.  They would usually respond with, "No, I'm not" in a whispering voice, followed by a shrug as if someone had just forced them to gulp down a glass of pure lime juice without any sugar.  The other way, I guess, would be how the more liberated Vietnamese female would respond.  And that is, upon receiving, they would give them a mean look immediately to make sure that the man realizes that what he just said was beyond deplorable.  And if he knew what was good for him, he should never even think of saying that to another Vietnamese girl, or he just might end with a few bullets through his window sometime soon.  I realize I might be in the minority, but I really don't care much for either of the two ways I've seen Vietnamese girls respond whenever they've been paid a compliment on their beauty.  I was really impressed with Ngoc Lan's response to that man.  She looked up at him with a friendly smile, and said, "Thank you.  I'm very flattered."  I could tell that she wasn't interested in him, yet she remained pleasant and kept her composure. Like any man who was already smitten, he proceeded anyway to ask if she would be busy this coming weekend.  Ngoc Lan smiled again at him, and answered, "I'll be out of town this weekend."  He asked again about the following weekend, and she responded with the same answer.  Before he was about to ask about the weekend after that, Ngoc Lan replied with, "I'm actually going to be out of town every weekend for the rest of this year and all the way until March of next year I'll then have a weekend off."  The man thought she was joking.  But she really wasn't since she did have a booking each week for the rest of the year to do one night shows all around the world.  As she said her goodbye to him, she briefly explained why her weekends were all booked by disclosing her profession.  Ngoc Lan's reason for the explanation was so that he would not think she was blowing him off in a rude manner.  She also told him that she was not interested because she already was in a relationship, and thanked him again as she said goodbye.  I thought that was really classy.  Now, why can't other Vietnamese girls carry themselves like Ngoc Lan?  Maybe, that's why she is Ngoc Lan. 

Ngoc Lan had managed to reach to the very top in her profession.  She was a celebrity.  Unlike most other professions, a singer that is successful in his or her career is synonymous with a singer that has become famous.  Ngoc Lan was well aware of that.  In her own words, she once taught me how "fame is like a double-edged sword and should always be something that a singer should always try to maintain with the most caution."  I must say, she definitely knew exactly what she was talking about. 

Ngoc Lan and the real man in her life, her husband, Kelvin Khoa, at their wedding.

Most people who knew Ngoc Lan personally will agree with me when I say that she was one very candid individual.  Rather than resort to similar habits and activities partaken by most other singers, Ngoc Lan was rather reserved and had better things to do.  Never would anyone find Ngoc Lan carousing around late at night at bars and parties.  In fact, the only times Ngoc Lan could ever be seen at any nightclub was when she was there to fulfill a singing engagement.  Now that I think about it, even if she had wanted to hang out at bars like how many of her colleagues frequently do, she wouldn't be able to even find the time to hang out because of her extremely busy non-stop work schedule.  Despite the precautions Ngoc Lan had taken in order to avoid becoming a target of gossip or scandal that the public seems highly capable to start as quickly as circulate, her celebrity status was also not immune to falling victim to the vicious rumor mills.  I guess the same applies with celebrities of all different cultures.  The public just loves to gossip about famous people, and rumors do spread around quickly.  Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but when it comes to comparing how fast rumors can spread around among different cultures, the Vietnamese mouth more than likely would take the cake in that marathon. 

Like most other singers who pair up with another singer of the opposite sex as a duet, rumors of Ngoc Lan having dating Duy Quang, as well as Duc Huy, Trung Hanh, Jo Marcel, Elvis PhuongTuan Ngoc, and Trinh Nam Son were in full circulation within the Vietnamese gossip mills.  There were even rumors of Tuan Anh and her.

I remember how she would just laugh at how ridiculous these rumors were.  As a matter of fact, besides Thanh Lam whom she had dated over ten years ago before she would meet one other fellow that she would become romantically involved with.  It was a fellow by the name of Kelvin Khoa, whom she ended up marrying.  Since I had become friends with Ngoc Lan and really had gotten to know her, I must say, that there are such singers out there who simply are nice and proper.  Not every singer lives his or her life filled with scandal after scandal.  From what I know, Ngoc Lan was a talented, beautiful singer with a lot of class and was always a lady.

As for the rumors about herself that had been well circulated among Vietnamese rumor mills in all four corners of the world , Ngoc Lan pretty much took them with a good attitude.  That was when she started borrowing a phrase I often said, "That's Vietnamese people for you.  You just gotta love them." 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Tinh Gan" Ngoc Lan's 5th Solo Studio Album



Ngoc Lan's fifth solo album was released during the same year with another major release from May Productions, Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh, which was her first solo music videotape.  At this point in her career, Ngoc Lan could do no wrong.  Her career had reached a level of such high success that no other overseas Vietnamese performer had ever even come close to.  With the extreme success in sales of May Productions' first audio release, which was Ngoc Lan's fourth solo studio album, Tinh Xanh, paired with Ngoc Lan's first solo music videotape, it is only fair to say May Productions had been launched as a major music production label from Ngoc Lan.  From this point on, Ngoc Lan's name became permanently linked with May Productions. 

From an artistic point of view, this album, much like Tinh Xanh, also lacked the level of excitement found in her earlier solo releases.  Although the quality was there, the selection of songs was rather mundane except for two out of the twelve total tracks, two newly written songs from Vietnamese songwriter and composer, Duc Huy; Nguoi Tinh Tram Nam and Tieng Mua Dem.  Both of these songs had never been recorded before by any other overseas Vietnamese artist and would first be introduced to Vietnamese audiences upon the release of this album.  The extreme success of these two songs penned by Duc Huy really came about as no surprise.  Afterall, what better choice could Duc Huy have chosen than to have Ngoc Lan's voice to be the first recorded for these two songs?  In addition, the popularity of Tieng Mua Dem had been given quite a boost as Ngoc Lan had also chosen to make a beautiful music video to this song featured on her first solo music videotape, Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ngoc Lan 1rst Solo Videotape






"Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh" - 1rst Solo Music Videotape of Ngoc Lan

                                                                                           May Productions Video 1

Ngoc Lan entered the 1990s decade with a bang.  Her first solo music videotape was released by May Productions in the beginning of the year and sales went through the roof.  Never before had any solo music videotape by any other Vietnamese artist been so widely received in Vietnamese music industry.  The release of this solo music videotape not only put Ngoc Lan at the top of her game, making her a certified superstar, it also revolutionized productions of music video within the Vietnamese music industry.  What is there to say about this videotape besides that it was simply a visual feast?  From beginning to end in all five music videos, Ngoc Lan looked incredibly beautiful.  Despite that these music videos are now over 20 years old, I still enjoy watching them over and over again to this day.  For die hard fans of Ngoc Lan, this videotape is the ultimate celebration of Ngoc Lan in all her glory at the peak of her career.  But for even those who may not be major Ngoc Lan fans, the high quality in the production of this videotape cannot go unnoticed.  "Nhu Em Da Yeu Anh" is a masterpiece of Vietnamese music video production. 








Monday, August 25, 2014

The Best Vietnamese Songstress of French Pop Music

Ngoc Lan photographed while posing on the streets of Paris.
French music has sustained its popularity in Vietnam for more than a century.  The French influence in Vietnam and its people naturally came about from the French colonial era which officially began in the year of 1862 and lasted until 1954 at the end of the French Indochina War.  One would think that perhaps the popularity of French music in Vietnam was at its peak while under French rule.  Instead, the presence of French influence along with French music in Vietnam, particularly Saigon, continued on for many years after the end of French colonialism.  Its peak in popularity didn't occur until the early 1960s to coincide with the emergence of a style of music known as Ye-Ye.  In this particular style of French pop music, originally from France allowed many songstresses to become internationally known and adored by fans from all over the world.  Among them were Sylvie Vartan, France Gall, Francoise Hardy and two songstresses that were of Vietnamese origin that also made marks onto the international scene as singers of the Ye-Ye style of music, Tiny Yong (Thien Huong) and Bach Yen


Bach Yen has been accredited as the Vietnamese pioneer chanteuse of French Popular Music.

Tiny Yong (Thien Huong) - one of the original songstresses of Ye-Ye




Yen Huong - Eurasian singer of French-Vietnamese descent who had been quite popular during the 1950s and 1960s in Saigon .  In the 1980s, she had made a brief comeback in the United States and released a couple of albums consisting of covers of French popular love songs.  













In Vietnam, Bach Yen had already established her career as a singer before setting her sights internationally where she sang in many other languages such as English, Italian, Spanish and Hebrew.  Tiny Yong, although born in Cambodia, is of Vietnamese origin who started her singing career in France during the Ye-Ye era but was virtually an unknown in Vietnam.  Another chanteuse of French-language music worthy of mentioning is Bebe Hong Suong, who was originally from Hanoi and was of mixed Vietnamese and Belgian parentage.  She began her career in Belgium and achieved international fame within Francophone countries with her hits, Rio de Janeiro and Nana.  Of course, there were also others like Bich Chieu, My Hoa and Yen Huong who had successful careers as French-language chanteuses in Saigon during this period.  But it wasn't until the later years in the 1960s when Thanh Lan emerged onto the spotlight that French music really reached its peak in popularity with Vietnamese audiences.  Thanh Lan's interpretation of popular French songs such as La Plus Belle Pour Aller Danser, Bang Bang, and Oh Mon Amour made a massive impact in the popularity of French music all over Vietnam and turned her into an icon in Vietnam.  Thanh Lan's enormous success as an interpreter of French music paved the way for other female singers of Vietnam such as Julie Quang, Pauline Ngoc, Bich Tram and Jeannie Mai.


Thanh Lan was an iconic interpreter of French popular music in Saigon prior to 1975.














Julie (formerly known as Julie Quang) first gained popularity as a French-language singer back in Saigon prior to 1975.  In the 1980s, she along with Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga were the top 3 female singers of French popular music with overseas Vietnamese audiences.


French-Vietnamese singer Pauline Ngoc achieved fame in Vietnam with her interpretation of the French popular song, "La Petite Gamine", in Vietnam during the late 1960s.

























The 1980s saw a resurgence of French music popularity among Vietnamese audiences overseas.  Among the Vietnamese songstresses responsible for this resurgences were Julie (formerly known as Julie Quang), Minh Xuan, Khanh Ha and of course, Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga.  The title as Queen of French music had been unofficially given to Kieu Nga by numerous Vietnamese entertainment publications and writers.  However, Ngoc Lan's fame as a Vietnamese singer of French music was not far behind.  Although they were all extremely talented, my personal favorites were Julie and Ngoc Lan.  They each had a style of singing in French that brought about a certain distinguishable charm.  To this day, I still prefer Ngoc Lan's rendition of Je Ne Suis Que de L'amour over Nicole Croisille's original version, just like Julie's rendition of Enrico Macias' Paris, Tu Mas Pris Dans Tes Bras.  These Vietnamese divas with their abilities of singing in the French language are undeniably one of the reasons why the presence of French culture among Vietnamese people all over the world is still kept alive to this day.


Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga's duet version of "Toi Jamais" was among one of the most popular songs recorded in French and Vietnamese.
Update:  In fairness, this article wouldn't be complete without mentioning these four other chanteuses of today that are definitely deserving of being listed in the ranks of the best Vietnamese songstresses of French popular music.  The first out of the four is Leslie.  She is of Vietnamese, Polynesian and French descent.  Since the release of her first album, Je Suis et Je Resterais, in 2002, Leslie has risen to be one of the most popular singers in France.  Like her predecessors, Bebe Hong Suong and Tiny Yong, French language Vietnamese singers who had each reached mainstream prominence in Francophone countries, Leslie's music career has not been centered around Vietnamese audiences.  Although Leslie is a virtual unknown in Vietnam, her astounding achievements as a major celebrity in French popular culture is a fleet admired by many Vietnamese people from all over the world.

Séverine Ferrer is a beautiful French cinema actress and pop singer.  She is of Vietnamese and Italian descent, raised in the French island of Réunion off the coast of East Africa.  Séverine Ferrer first came onto the French music scene in 2004 when she released her debut self-titled studio album for the label, Treize Bis Records.  Two years later, she represented Monaco at the 2006 annual Concours Eurovision de la Chanson contest held in Athens, Greece.  Although she did not make it as one of the finalists at the Eurovision competition, Séverine Ferrer did manage to make quite a splash with her unforgettable performance of La Coco Dance.  Recently, she had given birth to her third child and has temporarily taken time off from her careers both in music and films.  Already an established star in mainstream France, something tells me that we'll all be hearing and seeing a lot more of Séverine Ferrer in the near future.

Aïna Quach is a rising new star in French pop music.  She is of Vietnamese, Chinese, Belgian and Malagasy descent, born in the island country of Madagascar.  In recent years, Aïna Quach was the new lead female vocalist of the internationally renowned French progressive rock band, Tai Phong.  She had been personally selected to sing lead by the original founder of Tai Phong, musician Khanh Mai.  After a successful concert tour of Japan along with a released live concert album with Tai Phong, Aïna Quach released her first solo single, Je t'emmenerai, in 2016.  In addition to French, she also sings in English and several dialects of the Malagasy language.  

French Pop Singer Leslie
Quynh Anh
Our final out of the four Vietnamese songstresses of French popular music is Quynh Anh, a Belgian singer of Vietnamese origin.  Unlike the three previously mentioned, Quynh Anh is also well known in Vietnam and various overseas Vietnamese communities throughout the world.  To most Vietnamese people, Quynh Anh, first came onto the music scene in 2006 with her recording of a song entitled, Bonjour Vietnam, written by acclaimed Belgian singer Marc Lavoine.  Although Quynh Anh had managed to attain some success with mainstream Francophone audiences at the beginning of her music career as Marc Lavoine's protégée, in recent years she has shifted her career more toward Vietnamese audiences collaborating with Thuy Nga Paris. Her popularity with Vietnamese audiences has made Quynh Anh the carrier of the torch passed over graciously by a long list of talented Vietnamese songstresses of French popular music who had come before her.

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