Vietnamese New Year is a perfect occasion for music productions to make money; therefore, Asia and Thuy Nga, two gigantic Vietnamese entertainments, competed against each other in the same concept was inevitible. Since Asia’s Dam Cuoi Dau Xuan and Thuy Nga’s Hanh Phuc Dau Nam went head for head, I am going to compare the two side by side just for the fun of it.
Let’s kick off with the opening. As usual, Thuy Nga started out with its line up of hot babes to grab the viewer’s attention. “Ngay Tet Viet Nam,” written for the program by Hoai An, featured young singers in ao dai. They sure were great to look at, but the song was too poppy with a bit of Chinese flavor. On the Asia’s side, Son Ca and Chi Tam were older, but they sure brought in the New Year vibe with “Ngay Xua Vui Cuoi.”
Asia’s ending was weaker than Thuy Nga simply because Truc Ho was too lazy to come up with a new arrangement for Ha Thanh Xuan’s performance of “Khuc Hat An Tinh.” Although Ha Thanh Xuan was giving her best vocal delivery, she was new and therefore no way she could outdo the veteran Y Lan in the same arrangement. As soon as the music began, Y Lan was immediately came to mind. On Thuy Nga’s side, Don Ho and Ky Phuong Uyen gave a modern pop version of Van Phung’s “Ca Khuc Mung Xuan.” Not that they had done a superb job, but at least their sounded fresh.
Given that both producing similar concept, I was surprised that only one song covered on both side. Lam Nhat Tien were up against Khanh Ha for Quoc Dung’s “Em Da Thay Mua Xuan Chua?” The outcome was predictable. Khanh Ha was singing an octive higher than Lam Nhat Tien. Her version was much more soulful and had more depth than his.
Y Phuong were up against Ngoc Anh for the swing. Although I like both Y Phuong’s “Mung Xuan” and Ngoc Anh’s “Xuan Voi Doi Song Moi,” Ngoc Anh would be my choice. She rode the beat so marvelously with her smoking voice and her steps were also sexy.
For the young duets, Mai Tien Dung and Toc Tien’s “Nguoi Tinh Oi, Mo Gi” were along the line of Anh Minh and Doan Phi’s “Buoc Tinh Nong” and “Qua Cau Gio Bay.” The choreography in Mai Tien Dung and Toc Tien was fantastic and the song was fun and energic. Sy Dan’s upbeat production for “Qua Cau Gio Bay” was quite rejuvenating and Anh Minh was hot as hell too. Unfortunately, Doan Phi killed it. His wardrobe malfuction, which revealed the use of velcro along the ao dai, was embarassing. He and his dancers tried to stick them together, but couldn’t get them to adhere. He should have just take off the ao dai when singing the line, “Yeu nhau coi ao cho nhau.” It would have been perfect.
Ho Hoang Yen’s performance of Anh Viet Thu’s “Nhu Giot Sau Roi” was a close race to Thanh Ha’s performance of Ngoc Bich’s “Mong Chieu Xuan.” They both did a fantastic job of delivering the tunes and both set the stage on fire, but I have to go with Ho Hoang Yen for the sexiness. Quang Dung in Tu Cong Phung’s “Mua Xuan Tren Dinh Mua Xuan” was a close match to Tuan Khanh in Pham Duy’s “Em Le Chua Nay.” Both weren’t quite do the song its justice. Their rendition was safe and a tad boring.
As for the skit, Nguyen Ngoc Ngan’s script was much sharper than Hong Dao’s. His puns were spot on. Hoai Tam said that in order to learn English you have to learn the “technique.” Chi Tai replied with learning English until you “tet dit” (split your ass). Chi Tai, Hoai Tam and Be Ti were killing it. On the Asia’s side, Hong Dao and Quang Minh were a bit over-dramatic.
Politically speaking, Thuy Nga stayed completely free. Even though Nam Loc can’t help throwing in a few jabs in the beginning of the show, Asia also had done a decent job of sanitizing its political view for the sake of New Year. Asia also brought in Ngoc Dan Thanh. Damn, how old is she now? She must be at least in her 50s and yet still very georgous. She looked stunning in the black ao dai. I still remember watching some of her music videos in my early days in the States and she hasn’t changed much in almost twenty years. She sure is aging quite gracefully.
Even though Thuy Nga was a bit stronger in the overall production, both brought out some enjoyable hours for Tet. With Tet, viewers do not expect new tunes. They just want some good old tunes to take them back to the wonderful moments of New Year. So the productions can do no wrong covering classic ballads with the spirit of “Xuan” and bringing some joy and laughter to the show.