Let's talk about the current state of Vpop, or Vietnamese popular music for young people. For a long time now I have been stressing that Vpop is really just in it's infancy just figuring out how to walk and talk on its own. As the industry continues to mature, Vpop will undoubtedly go through some growing pains. Just look at the development of Kpop for example. Kpop didn't get to where it is now by not going through similar growing pains. Trust me. I heard the same type of worries directed at Kpop that Vpop often gets now. Kpop is a cheap imitation of American pop music, etc., etc.
Is Vpop trying too hard to copy Kpop?
Short answer -- yes. Let's take a look at some of the new Vpop songs that have been released in the past couple of weeks.
Uni5 is a new Vietnamese boy band consisting of two members -- K.O and Toki. For a group created by Đông Nhi's entertainment company 6th Sense, Uni5's debut MV C'mon turned out better than I expected. I have such low expectations when it comes to anything related to Đông Nhi these days. Has she become the queen of selling out? She seems to be all about that quick cash grab now.
Anyways, Uni5 is way too Kpop-ish for my liking. 6th Sense is clearly taking a Kpop approach when it comes to marketing their new artists. See my Lip B post for further info. Uncoincidentally, the "visual" of Lip B -- Na Whan -- makes a guest appearance in this 6th Sense video.
New boy band MONSTAR by ST.319 is another example how Vpop is currently going full steam ahead in utilizing a Korean pop music approach when nurturing new talent. Is it a surprise that everyone is rushing to create the next big time boy band? No, I predicted exactly this would happen when 365DaBand officially broke up. Even the relatively new DreamS Entertainment company is trying to get in on the act. People want their boy bands. Some how, some way -- people are going to get it.
#BabyBaby is MONSTAR's official debut single. Although not bad, I prefer their other song -- Turn It Up. Perhaps, Uni5 and MONSTAR could team up to form the next 5 member boy band that everyone seems to be keen on creating. Wouldn't it make more sense if Uni5 was actually a 5 member band rather than a 2 member band?
Girl group LIME recently released a new MV for their song Part Of Me. LIME has been around for a while now; however, this is the first time that I have ever mentioned them on this blog. The reason for this is because LIME is essential a Kpop group IMO. I like to try to keep things strictly Vpop related on this blog, so talking about LIME has always been something that I was uncomfortable with. If people want Kpop, then they would go to one of the thousands of Kpop blogs that already exists, right?
LIME was created as a joint venture between Vietnamese and South Korean investors -- V&K Entertainment. They sing songs in both Korean and Vietnamese and are active in both countries. Their musical style and presentation, however, is strictly South Korean. Therefore, is LIME really Vpop?
Like Lip B, LIME
is was a 4 member girl group. What happened to the 4th member? I don't know. She probably got pregnant and decided to leave the industry -- something that seems to happen all the time in the Vietnamese entertainment industry.
I digress. Back to my point -- South Korean-style pop groups and pop songs are becoming more and more common everyday in the world of Vietnamese pop music. This leads us to the most important question...
Is this the direction Vpop should go and is it healthy for the industry?
Personally, I think you should never try to imitate success. It is always better to be yourself than trying to be something that you are not. Instead of trying to be a carbon copy of something that worked in the past, I would much rather see Vpop artists forging their own paths by taking and using what they hear and see today (Kpop, Rap, EDM, etc.) to shape their music in their own way.
A good Vpop artist that I believe demonstrates this approach is ST.319's Min. As a member of the Kpop fan and dance cover group ST.319, Min -- without question -- is an artist that is influenced by Korean pop culture and music. Her music, however, is strictly her own. Yes, there are Kpop influences in her music (she's a Kpop fan after all), but I never feel that Min's music tries to emulate Korean pop music. It's her own take on pop music. Her own style that is a combination of all sorts of different elements of modern pop music that she happens to like listening to in her own life. In this case, I feel Kpop had a positive influence in the world of Vpop. Who knows? If Min wasn't such a fan of Kpop music as a youngster, she may never have decided to pursue a career in music.
On the other hand, there are many examples of when the influence of Kpop has gone wrong. For other Vpop fans out there, I am sure you guys are just as frustrated as I am when I see Vietnamese artists trying to cash in on the Kpop trend by releasing hot garbage. Case in point -- Dancing King by Bùi Caroon. The nerve of this dude to call himself the dancing king when it's pretty clear that he can't dance worth a shit. D.I.S.C.O? I wasn't born yesterday, bro. I know you took that shit from Uhm Jung Hwa's 2008 Kpop hit D.I.S.C.O, which by the way was essentially a remake of 1979 classic D.I.S.C.O by the French band Ottawan. Dancing King was so bad that not even the ass and tits of Mai Ngô from The Face Vietnam could save it.
Thus, it is indeed worrisome when I see Vietnamese artists trying too hard to emulate Kpop. It is a direction that I don't want Vpop to take. Instead of coming up with quality music, there are some people out there that will take the lazy route of trying to be successful by imitating others. Ultimately, this would be very unhealthy for any artistic industry if everyone resorted to reusing the same old tried and true formula and never tried to create truly original works. Luckily, I don't think this will ever happen. We live in age where the internet has made listening and finding new and interesting music extremely easy.
Currently, I don't consider the popularity of Kpop-style music to be a problem in the Vietnamese music industry. If that's what teenagers like listening to nowadays, then so be it. Who am I to tell people what to listen to?1 I, myself, have listened to some questionable stuff as a youngster.
Instead, I view the current trend of Kpop-influenced music as another phase in the development of Vpop as a whole. It's like entering adolescence not knowing who you are. Your voice is changing, and you're a little awkward. You (Vpop) just want to fit in with the cool kids (Kpop), so you try to imitate their style. Eventually, you figure out who you want to be and the opinions of the cool kids don't even matter anymore. Because after all, why even listen to Vpop if it ends up sounding exactly like Kpop?
Yes. Yes. I do run a music blog telling people what to listen to...but I try to make suggestions to help people find new and interesting music that people may or may not be interest in. ↩