Monday, August 18, 2014

"L'amour Tinh Ta" Ngoc Lan Album of French Love Songs

By 1988, Ngoc Lan had definitely arrived as a star among overseas Vietnamese singers.  The tremendous success of her 2nd solo studio album, Nguoi Yeu Dau, released in 1987 and became then the best selling solo studio album recorded by any overseas Vietnamese.  It would hold that position of being the solo studio album with the most in combined sales for the remainder of the years in the overseas Vietnamese music industry before audio cassettes were replaced by compact disc as the most preferred form in duplication.  This was rather surprising considering how just two years prior to the release of Nguoi Yeu Dau, Ngoc Lan was still a virtual unknown in the Vietnamese music industry.  But for it to have reached such magnitude of massive reception really took everyone by surprise in the entire Vietnamese music industry and surpassed the expectations of all including Ngoc Lan, herself.

Almost immediately after the release of Nguoi Yeu Dau during the latter part of spring in 1987, hundreds of letters of fan mail poured in from all over the world to the Giang Ngoc music label's headquarters as fans wrote to show their appreciation and newly found deep fondness for Ngoc Lan.  Already, an anticipation was underway for the release of a follow up album from the fans as if they couldn't wait another minute for Ngoc Lan to finish with the recording.  The explosive sales of Nguoi Yeu Dau also carried over to boost the sales of her debut album that had been self-produced and released the year prior.  Ngoc Lan took notice in what many of her fans had written through the fan mail about how much they admired her ability to sing in the French language so effortlessly and although they had adored the songs she had recorded solely in the Vietnamese language on the Nguoi Yeu Dau album, somehow they had wished that the album would have combined the selection of songs with some French songs, at least, like she had done on her debut self-titled, Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan.  This prompted Ngoc Lan to make the decision to do an album comprised of a collection of French love songs for her third solo effort.  However, this decision at first was not met without hesitation from her advisers and Le Ba Chu, the owner of Giang Ngoc.  Fearing that an entire solo album of Ngoc Lan covering French love songs, and not one single track would be of Vietnamese origin or even sung in Vietnamese in its entirety seemed like a doomed project headed for commercial failure and minimal reception in the overseas Vietnamese music market.   Ultimately, Le Ba Chu took the gamble and gave the green light to produce and release Ngoc Lan's 3rd solo studio album that would be given the title, L'amour Tinh Ta.

While the Giang Ngoc label was still enjoying in celebration of record breaking sales from Ngoc Lan's 2nd solo studio album, Nguoi Yeu Dau, both Le Ba Chu and Ngoc Lan purposely delayed the release date of her next solo studio album to avoid the possibility of over exposure.  In an industry as fickle and unpredictable as the music industry, too much exposure or even tremendous success of unprecedented magnitude could easily result in being a double edged sword.  During this extra amount of time that the Giang Ngoc label had been given with the delaying of the release date for L'amour Tinh Ta, Le Ba Chu carefully planned out the marketing aspect to insure strong distribution in sales for the album to be comparable to that of Nguoi Yeu Dau for the sake of both Ngoc Lan's career and of course, to make profit for the Giang Ngoc label.  However, in an industry as fickle as the music industry, there really are no guarantees for anyone, not for the producers and certainly not for an artist.

Finally, toward the closing of the winter season early in the year of 1988, L'amour Tinh Ta was released.  To the delight of both Le Ba Chu and Ngoc Lan, the album soared in sales matching the success of Nguoi Yeu Dau from the previous year.  Ngoc Lan's calculations were correct.  Audiences warmly embraced her beautiful renditions of popular French love songs that she had recorded in both French and carefully polished Vietnamese translated lyrics.  Among the impressive list of songwriters that contributed Vietnamese lyrics to these selected French songs were the legendary Pham Duy, Nhat Ngan, and even Ngoc Lan, herself, who had penned the translated lyrics to 4 out of the 12 tracks.  Some of the most notable tracks were Ngoc Lan's covers of a tune originally written in English by Barry Gibb and made popular by American songstress, Barbra Streisand, Woman in Love, where Ngoc Lan had recorded the lyrics in French entitled, Une Femme Amoureuse, Pour En Arriver La, Vivre Pour Toi, Mourir Pour Toi, and of course, the most popular track on this album, Viens M'embrasser, which had been given a Vietnamese title from the translated lyrics penned by Pham Duy, Lai Gan Hon Em.  Ngoc Lan's delivery through all the tracks were subtle yet heartfelt, giving a softer vocal approach than that of the original versions.  When listening to the album, Ngoc Lan's beautiful, soothing voice can easily move anyone to tears.

Ngoc Lan's music video for the song, Lai Gan Hon Em (Viens M'embrasser), produced and released by May Productions in 1990 contributed significantly to the popularity of this song making it a cult classic for her millions of die hard fans around the world.

Ironically, the one track I found to be rather silly would become one of the most popular tracks to come out of this album for Ngoc Lan.  The name of the song is Comment Ca Va? where Ngoc Lan tries to sing in English during an entire, painstaking verse and then finishes it out in Vietnamese, with the chorus only in the first verse in French.  To some, this approach might have been considered as cute.  Others like myself found it to be rather laughable especially when you factor in the storyline from the song's lyrics.  Just in case you're not familiar with the song, it's about an American girl who doesn't speak much French and encounters a French local who would be her love interest.  When you think of it, it is a rather cute song.  But the concept didn't work for Ngoc Lan since she at that time had yet to grasp even the weakest command of the English language after having only arrived in the United States several years prior.  But audiences liked it apparently, which is probably why Ngoc Lan would choose to include it in her usual repertoire of songs to be performed at her live shows. 

Other than the Comment Ca Va? track, L'amour Tinh Ta is a collection of the loveliest, most romantic French ballads.  It is clear that Ngoc Lan had put a lot of effort into the production of this album, since it is almost impossible to either refrain from being hypnotized by her infectious singing voice or to even find the slightest flaw with her vocals.  That is why it really isn't much of a surprise that this album would match the level of success to Nguoi Yeu Dau.  For 2 years in a row, Ngoc Lan would end up having the biggest selling albumof the year produced under the Giang Ngoc music label.  Nguoi Yeu Dau was the best seller among overseas produced albums for the year of 1987.  The following year, Ngoc Lan would see a repeat of such success with L'amour Tinh Ta rounding out as the best seller of 1988 for Giang Ngoc.  Each of Ngoc Lan's first 3 solo studio albums would serve as major stepping stones in her journey climbing up to superstardom.  Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan, Ngoc Lan's debut solo studio album, was what had brought Ngoc Lan's name to prominence and fame.  Nguoi Yeu Dau, her second solo studio album, made her a star.  And her third solo studio album, L'amour Tinh Ta, solidified Ngoc Lan as a star that would shine even brighter.

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