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.