Sunday, February 22, 2015

Paris Van Doi (Paris Still Awaits) - Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga Duet Album

For many of us die hard Ngoc Lan fans, we really loved it whenever she had teamed up with Kieu Nga on their many duets recorded together.  During the latter years of the 1980s, when it came to the Vietnamese music genre known as Nhac Tre, there was no doubt that Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga were the two most celebrated divas.  When May Productions had released this album in 1990, I was sort of displeased with the mediocre level of production.  In a way, it seemed like a rehashed version of the magic that Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga had once captured in their earlier recordings with Asia Productions and Nguoi Dep Binh Duong years ago.  I'd have to say that I enjoyed listening to Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga's earlier duet album released by Nguoi Dep Binh Duong back in 1988, Khong Can Noi Yeu Em, a lot more despite how its less elaborate arrangements and promotion efforts.  They both sounded much more natural and much more energy in the deliveries of the songs recorded.

In Paris Van Doi (Paris Still Awaits), a lot of the songs they had selected seemed like variations of songs they had each recorded before, only scrambled among one another, or by other Vietnamese singers on compilation albums they each had appeared on.  For example, there was En Courant, in which Kieu Nga had recorded for Nguoi Dep Binh Duong a couple years prior.  Johnny Johnny was another one Kieu Nga had recorded for Asia Productions.  And L'amour à la Plage that had been recorded by Julie , also known as Julie Quang on a compilation album that Kieu Nga had also been featured on released by Kim Ngan years ago.

I can't say that Paris Van Doi wasn't enjoyable to listen to.  It was.  But I had expected so much more.  If anything, the album is worth listening to just because it was an album that featured two of our favorites, Ngoc Lan and Kieu Nga, and for one other reason, the classic duet track, Toi Jamais.  That track alone makes the entire album worth listening to.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ngoc Lan Vs. Cam Ly

Many people have taken notice of the similarities between the voices of Ngoc Lan and Cam Ly.  I must admit there are indeed similarities between the two of them.  I especially like Cam Ly's version of Nang Chieu.  There's a timber in Cam Ly's voice that is quite reminiscent of Ngoc Lan's.  I've never met Cam Ly in person to ask her what she thinks of Ngoc Lan.  I'm sure Ngoc Lan must be one of her idols for Cam Ly to sound so much like her at times.

Cam Ly has certainly become one of the most popular singers of Vietnam today.  But can she replace Ngoc Lan?  I don't think so.  Ngoc Lan will always be my idol.  For those who idolize Ngoc Lan as much as I do, I'm sure they would feel the same.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Author's Selection of 10 Other Personal Favorite Ngoc Lan Songs

When it comes to choosing my favorite Ngoc Lan songs, I must say that there are so many.  Here are some of the songs that weren't as popular that Ngoc Lan had recorded, yet are some of my favorites of all time.

1/ Hai Loi - This was a song Ngoc Lan had recorded on an album entitled Trai Sau Dau, which was a collection of songs written and composed by Hoang Thuong Dung and Chau Dinh An.  There were quite a few great tracks on this album, as it had featured some of the biggest names among overseas Vietnamese singers at the time such as Khanh Ly, who had recorded the title track in addition to a duet with Chau Dinh An on another track, Elvis Phuong, Huong Lan, Le Thu, Duy Quang, Thanh Thuy and Nhu Mai.  Of course, Hai Loi recorded by Ngoc Lan would be my favorite track from this album.  The way she had delivered this song was as close to perfection as one could possibly get.  She gave a really heartfelt and clean performance with her vocals here.  No music video was made for this song.  However, there is a website where this song is accessible,

2/ Duong Ve Son Cuoc - Produced and released by Ngoc Minh, this is a pleasant tune Ngoc Lan had recorded on an album entitled, Nu Cuoi Son Cuoc, in 1988.

3/ Hoa Lan - Ngoc Lan had recorded this album for Doi Magazine in 1987.  This was featured on a compilation with various other artists that included Jo Marcel, Kieu Nga, Huong Lan, Hai Ly and Lynda Trang Dai, entitled as Da Vu Bien. 

4/ Ao Anh - This popular tune that was written by Y Van was recorded by Ngoc Lan in an album produced and released by Da Lan in 1987 entitled as, Da Vu Nho. 

5/ Ngat Ngay Ben Anh (Je M'envole) - Ngoc Lan had recorded this French classic originally made popular by chanteuse, Nicole Rieu, on an album produced by Trung Hanh for Nguoi Dep Binh Duong, entitled as Nhac Phap Tru Tinh - Les Chansons D'amour in 1988.  This album included a compilation of various artists such as Elvis Phuong, Julie (formerly known as Julie Quang), Minh Xuan, Kieu Nga and Trung Hanh.

6/ Gui Em Hanh Ly - A heartfelt song that had touched the hearts of many Vietnamnese-Americans on the topic of being away from their homeland, Ngoc Lan did an excellent job with this recording.  A television music video had been made for this song on Vietnam Performing Arts Television.  This song had been produced and released by Da Lan.  Today, this song is available on YouTube.

7/ Phu Du - Written by Phan Kien, Ngoc Lan had recorded this song on a duet album with Duy Quang, Bien Mong, released by Kim Ngan Productions in 1987.

8/ Bong Nho Giao Duong - This is one of those classic songs written by Phuong Linh that Ngoc Lan had recorded that I could listen to over and over again and never get sick of.  Luckily, this song is available today on YouTube.

9/ La Derniere Valse -  Ngoc Lan did an incredible job covering this Mireille Mathieu classic on Asia Productions Volume 7 Da Vu Vang.  As with most of the earliest compilation albums produced by Asia Productions, on this album Ngoc Lan would be in the company of other great French-language Vietnamese singers such as Julie, Kieu Nga, Elvis Phuong, Minh Xuan and Billy Shane, who had often recorded French songs as part of a duo with Duy Quang.  There was one thing different that had set this particular album apart from all the others produced by Asia Productions during the time.  And that was, all of the tracks were linked together, a feature called non-stop dancing, which made it sound like one long medley of six different songs bunched up together on each side of the audio cassette.  This made it a pain if you had wanted to pick out only some of the tracks on this album to record onto a blank cassette of your own personal favorite songs.  I know that making such copies were technically in violation of copyright laws since they would be considered as unauthorized duplications.  But who didn't do that back then?  And besides, we weren't turning around and selling these songs after copying them onto a blank cassette.  This was just a way of weeding out the good tracks from the not so good ones, which was often the case in many of these compilation albums featuring various artists that were out in the market back then.  By the way, this song is now available on YouTube.

10/ Thang 6 Troi Mua - Diem Xua Productions had produced this song recorded by Ngoc Lan.  Too bad no music video had been made for this song.  I think she did this song better than anyone else.

There you have it.  These are 10 of my personal favorite songs recorded by our beloved Ngoc Lan.  Tell me some of yours.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ngoc Lan, the Lyricist

We all know what a tremendous singer our beloved Ngoc Lan was, but did any of you know what a talented lyricist she was, as well?

The first time I had heard some of Ngoc Lan's works as a lyricist was on her album, Nguoi Yeu Dau.  Like many others, I was deeply enchanted with the song, Hoi Nguoi Tinh.  Recently, singer Thanh Ha had pointed out that this had been one of her favorite songs and that although the song was not originally a Vietnamese composition, the lyrics are so well written that it seems like an original Vietnamese song.  I'd have to agree with Thanh Ha.  On this same album, Ngoc Lan had also penned the lyrics to two other songs, Tinh Nhu Giac Mo and Nguoi.  

Through the years, Ngoc Lan has penned the Vietnamese lyrics to many other French and Chinese tunes.  One of my favorites is Ngay Vui Nam Ay (Magic Boulevard).  I like how in particular Ngoc Lan doesn't try to literally translate the song into Vietnamese lyrics, but gives it a story of her own.  The same was done with Mua He Nam Ay.  However, in her album, L'amour Tinh Ta, Ngoc Lan did write Vietnamese lyrics to several French songs that were quite literal in translation, yet also turned out to sound quite poetic and meaningful.  I particularly liked Tat Ca Cho Anh (Vivre Pour Toi, Mourir Pour Toi), Con Mai (Encore), and Dung Xa Nhau (Ne Laisses Pas Ma Vie Sans Toi).

Ngoc Lan's lyrics are quite heart wrenching and usually tell a story of either unrequited or lost loves.
That gives me the impression that perhaps she was a very sentimental person who had experienced quite a bit of sadness in her personal life.  What are some of your favorite songs written by Ngoc Lan?