In 2013, Trần Hải Châu (now known as Tia Hải Châu) made history by being the first winner of the Vietnamese adaptation of the NBC TV singing competition The Winner Is. A year later, Tia Hải Châu released her first MV of her professional singing career again making history by becoming the first Vietnamese singer to be signed under the prestigious American global music corporation known as Universal Music Group.
Even with the backing of Universal and a good chunk of change invested into Tia's debut MV, Out Of Control didn't leave much of a mark on the Vietnamese music scene. After the lukewarm reception of Out Of Control, Tia once again disappeared from the music limelight much like how she did in year following her winning season. Again, fans and viewers of The Winner Is were left bewildered and regretful of what once seemed like a promising career for the new young singer.
After two long years of silence, Tia once again re-emerged onto the Vietnamese music scene with a new single titled Wasted in 2016. Touted as a rebellious pop song composed by Canadian "hitmaker" Adam H. Hurstfield, Wasted was released to zero fanfare. It bombed hard! You could probably say it bombed harder than Blade Runner 2049 did at the box office this year. Wasted pretty much went immediately into the bargain bin CD pile on release and then straight into the dumpster in no time.
With lyrics like:
Giddy up. Get it up...Something's poking into me...I can feel you growing on me...Something's really growing on me...Tell me what I'm feeling...Cause this so hard...Wow, so hard.
I can't help but feel that Universal is just dicking around with Tia and wasting everyone's time. My advice to Tia is to run. Being signed by a large American music label isn't all it is cracked up to be. What good is it being signed to a label when they don't even understand you as an artist? Tia needs to follow the advice of her first single and take control of her own destiny because Tia's music career under Universal is out of control.
Following Wasted, Tia released one more single working with the same foreign music production team. Personally, I hope So Long Goodbye is Tia's last international project. It is my opinion that Tia needs to say so long goodbye to making music for an international audience because there is no market for it. Listen here. Asian artists will always fail when trying to release English songs for an international audience. How many times do I have to tell people this? I said it when Korean megastars BoA, Se7en, and Rain all tried breaking into the US market with English albums back in the day before Kpop blew up. It's not going to work.
People need to stop being so naive like Tia was in her song Wasted and understand the racial issues that exists. Asians aren't respected as singers in the US market. "But VpopFan, isn't Kpop loved by English speakers now?" you say. Yeah, but look at why it is successful. Let's look at some of the most well-known Kpop stars/songs in the West. PSY, along with his hit song Gangnam Style, is probably the most well-known. Is it a coincident that PSY fits nicely into the stereotype of the unattractive, awkward, weird, funny Asian guy? "How about the boy bands?" you say. Well, don't these tight pants, make-up wearing pretty boys make it easy for Western media to continue the standard practice of effeminizing Asian men? And let's not talk about the practice of sexualizing Kpop girl groups and the reinforcement of the submissive, obedient, almost doll-like nature of Asian women.
To be successful in the West, Asian artists can't just be good at singing in English. No one is going to care. If you don't fit into the narrative that mainstream media wants to push, then you are going to get no where. Even Rain, who was considered the Michael Jackson of Asian pop music at the time, had to succumb to the pressure and give up on releasing an English album. Instead, he went on to star in Ninja Assassin as the cliché mysterious Asian martial artist.
The lesson here is there's no market for an Asian singer who sings in English. Western mainstream media is only going to push narratives that fits into the established stereotypical views that the general public can easily consume. This is not something unique just to Asian artists. For example, African Americans have to deal with there own set of stereotypes like how they are viewed as good for nothing drug dealers, criminals, thugs, womanizers, and sexual predators. Sure, black rappers are making bank now, but it came with a cost.
Tia needs to stop making English pop songs because there's no future in it. Who are you making these songs for? The Western world is not going to care, and I also believe the Vietnamese audience is not going to care. Would the Vietnamese rather listen to a Vietnamese singer sing in English or a white person singing in English? The choice is clear here. The Vietnamese audience is going to go with the white person. The white person is going to get special preferential treatment just because they are white. I'm sorry, that's just how the world works. Kyo York is going to get the benefit of the doubt and praised for singing in Vietnamese just because he's white while someone like Hà Lê will get criticized by his fellow Vietnamese citizens for his English pronunciation even though his English pronunciation is perfectly fine.
It wasn't until Sing My Song that Tia finally started to make her mark on the Vietnamese music scene once again by singing in Vietnamese instead of singing in English. It is my hope that Tia has abandoned the American management of UMG for good because they clearly didn't know what they were doing. What does an American music label know about the Vietnamese music climate anyways? Absolutely nothing! I hate seeing talent go to waste. I see a lot of potential in Tia Hải Châu, and I want to see that potential be fully realized.
Although I personally do enjoy listening to Tia's English songs, I truly believe she needs to abandon that endeavor because it's a path that leads to nowhere. Instead, she's better off releasing songs as an indie artist than being signed to Universal where her talents are going to waste. She needs to say so long goodbye to UMG and take control of her own music destiny. That destiny, in my opinion, is drawing upon her Vietnamese roots to release Vietnamese songs that speak to the Vietnamese audience instead of relying on forced, edgy teenage English pop songs.