Stream of albums as music scene booms in 2022

By Hoang Nguyen   December 28, 2022 | 05:19 am PT
The Vietnamese music scene flourished this year and fans could choose from a bevy of new albums in diverse genres and concepts.

In August, pop singer Hoang Thuy Linh released her latest album "Link", featuring several other contemporary Vietnamese artists such as Tung Duong, Thanh Bui and rookie Wren Evans.

The name of the album is phonetically similar to Linh’s given name and also carries her desire to connect with listeners sonically. In "Link," Linh continues to explore the incorporation of traditional Vietnamese folk music with modern instrumentals and a touch of symphony music.

Pitchfork, one of the globe’s most prestigious music criticism sites, gave the album a score of 7.2 - an impressive number for a Vietnamese album.

"The latest album from the Vietnamese pop artist is an empowering statement of purpose, at its best when pairing evocative storytelling with theatrical, large-scale production," Pitchfork wrote.

Hoang Thuy Linhs latest album Link gets a score of 7.2 from the prestigious music review site Pitchfork.

Hoang Thuy Linh's latest album 'Link' gets a score of 7.2 from the music review site Pitchfork.

MONO, the brother of pop sensation Son Tung M-TP and a rising star in Vietnamese music recently, released his debut studio album "22," a collection of 11 pop and R&B tracks that kept up with current global music trends. His move has been highly appreciated by music industry insiders because it shows that he is serious and passionate about his craft.

In the digital era, singers in Vietnam rarely release albums and only focus on singles or music videos. But in order to really make a name for themselves and leave a lasting impression on the local music scene, artists have no choice but to put out an album.

In 2022, many Vietnamese artists released albums. This was a ray of bright shining light after the pandemic, according to industry insiders. This also marked a continuing shift in the musical mindset and direction of Vietnamese artists as time goes by.

"I strongly support artists who release albums with many songs and have a theme throughout the album," musician Nguyen Hai Phong told Thanh Nien Newspaper. "If a singer wants to show their own musical style, they should make an album, so that the audience can get a picture of what they are like. Through an album, an artist can easily tell a longer story and affirm their position and voice."

Toc Tien is another artist whose efforts leveled up for the release of her new 2022 album "Cong." The recording received rave reviews from both critics and audiences. Both the substance and presentation of the album have been highly praised.

Cong was released in both physical and digital formats, of which the physical version included a photobook, stickers and a photocard, just like a K-pop album. Tien also employed a minishow to promote Cong, a method of promotion used by many international artists. Cong features a variety of genres including pop, ballad, R&B, synthpop and disco, but eight songs on the album share the same concept and message: embracing the power of women and respecting the inherent unique beauty of each individual human being.

Singer Phung Khanh Linh chose a unique sound for her new album that no Vietnamese artist has ever employed before. In November, Linh released "Citopia," a 10 track fully city pop album. City pop was a sound popular in urban Japan during the 1980s.

Linh wrote the lyrics to all the new songs, which were composed by a production team in the US, including Grammy-winning producer Steven Wilson. "Citopia" is a concept about a fictional city where sounds and movements of life aim for perfection after loss and trauma. The album topped the iTunes chart in Vietnam after its release.

"For all of the nods to nostalgia and internet culture, ‘Citopia’ isn’t simply an exercise in re-creating a digital trend. There’s a deeper concept at work," the Japan Times wrote about the album.

Other notable 2022 Vietnamese releases include "Kosmik", a compilation album by hip hop collective SpaceSpeakers, as well as "dongvui harmony", a live album by rapper Den Vau recorded with an orchestra of 100 musicians. Vietnamese indie prince Vu.’s new album "Mot Van Nam" (A Thousand Years) has also caused some hype.

Phung Khanh Linhs new album Citopia is inspired by Japanese city pop in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Phung Khanh Linh

Phung Khanh Linh's new album 'Citopia' is inspired by Japanese city pop in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of Phung Khanh Linh

"To make a fully crafted studio album, it often takes time to find materials, artistic inspiration and of course enough money for sessions, packaging and promotion. That’s why not many artists in Vietnam can drop albums as frequently as most artists in big music markets like the U.S. or Europe," Hanoi music promoter Minh Hien told VnExpress International.

"Vietnamese artists put out about four or five studio albums a year, but in 2022 I saw that number exceed 10, which is a great look for the local music scene," Hien said.

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