Following the current trend, Hong Ngoc released two albums at once to target different demographics. Vet Thuong Cuoi Cung, which featured classic tunes, is for the old heads. Qua Khu, which featured come-and-gone pop hits, is for the young fans.
On Vet Thuong Cuoi Cung, Hong Ngoc obviously tries to throw a bone for the old folks. She makes no investment in the productions and she covers each song in her sleep. The beats get drowsy; her voice gets drowsier. She simply puts Trinh Nam Son’s “Di Vang” out of its misery and into an afternoon nap. I hope that Lam Phuong won’t listen to her rendition of “Co Ua.” He might get another stroke.
The good thing about Vet Thuong Cuoi Cung is that the album makes Qua Khu more listenable. Although Hong Ngoc has such an old, smoky and husky voice, the best she could do is singing instant pop songs. On the title track, she means every word she sings: “Nhung than oi long nguoi thay doi / Anh ra di chi gi qua khu cua em / Qua khu ngay xua anh da chap nhan de den ben em.” Any lyrics with the words “anh ra di,” she nailed them. On “An Nan Muon Mang,” she cries like rain on the chorus: “Gio day anh da ra di / Anh quyet ra di / Bo mat em voi bao dam me muon phien / Em khoc nhu mua / Anh van quay di / Vi trai tim anh da qua suc nguoi oi.”
Qua Khu testifies that Hong Ngoc still holds her spot as a star in the pop market. Moving beyond that, however, is out of her reach and Vet Thuong Cuoi Cung is a proof.