Experts on why Vietnamese songs are going viral

By Hieu Nhan   August 30, 2021 | 02:02 am PT
Experts on why Vietnamese songs are going viral
Screen shots of Douyin users in China dancing to 'Hai Phut Hon' melody.
Local and international musical experts explain why more and more Vietnamese songs have taken international social media platforms by storm.

Recently, the hip-shake dance from 'Hai Phut Hon' (Over Two Minutes) by Vietnamese rapper Phao, real name Nguyen Dieu Huy, became a phenomena on Tiktok and Chinese version Douyin with hundreds of thousands of users making dance covers of the song and attracting billions of views.

The song became such a mega hit worldwide that it even topped the most searched song list globally on Shazam, an app that can identify music and TV shows by listening to a short audio sample, in December last year. It later entered the Top 12 of World Digital Song Sales, including work released outside the U.S. with the highest digital sales of the week, of Billboard last February.

In addition to 'Hai Phut Hon', songs like 'De Den De Di' (Easy to Come Easy to Go) and 'The Magic Bomb Remix' by Hoang Read and Tai Muzik, which sparked the "chopping dance" trend, have also blown up in Chinese, South Korean and American media.

Most of the Vietnamese songs loved by international audiences are remixes with bold electronic music (EDM) styles.

American online music publication Pitchfork pointed out in an article published earlier this month that most viral hits stemming from Vietnam have a Vinahouse beat, "a remix-centric, high-octane variant of EDM similar to Eurodance, that’s pretty much inescapable in Vietnamese clubs."

On the other hand, the song 'De Den De Di" by singer Le Quang Hung has pop, R&B influences and a catchy chorus while 'Cu Chill Thoi' (Just Chill) by indie boyband Chillies grabs audiences with the melodic phrase "da-da-da-da."

Chinese social network and web portal QQ once stated that a unique and memorable melody is the attraction of Vietnamese songs on Douyin.

According to musician Khac Hung, local music producers increasingly know how to create a song that is easy to please the audience. They have learned the standards of composition and production from western countries, so many Vietnamese songs are now suited to international tastes.

"Foreign record labels like Universal, Sony and Warner Music are now present in Vietnam, which is one of the factors that make it easier to introduce trendy music products abroad," he said.

Pitchfork noted that Asian culture, such as Japanese anime and K-pop/K-dramas, are getting more popular and being discussed online more but "perhaps their current popularity will also generate more interest in the culture and aesthetics of countries outside of East Asia."

Choreography is another factor that helps more Vietnamese song attract more global attention.

Local DJ/producer KAI, who made the viral song 'Hai Phut Hon' remix, stated that the hip-shake dance helped the song go viral. His remix featured the image of the cartoon character Zero Two shaking her hips to the melody in the music video. This later sparked a social media trend on TikTok where many users made their own cover versions, swaying their hips to the catchy tune.

A Chinese woman dances to the tune of '2 Phut Hon' on social media app Douyin. Video by Douyin account Beilajiejie

Last year, the song 'Ghen Co Vy' (Ghen - jealousy | Co Vy (Ms. Vy) - a local nickname for the new coronavirus) was called a phenomenon by the international media.

Billboard said the song went viral because of the hand-washing dance performed by dancer Quang Dang. Just one day after its debut, MC John Oliver covered the dance in the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. A series of famous artists, users around the world responded.

Then a popular dancer, Quang Dang, choreographed moves to go with the lyrics that called on people to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, not to touch their eyes and mouths and limit going to crowded places. The dance sparked a 'Ghen CoVy Challenge' on TikTok, from where it quickly went viral and won high praise from the public for conveying an important message with a catchy song and appealing dance.

The development of apps and social networks has contributed to spreading Vietnamese songs to the world.

According to Chinese media site Sina, the music was originally used by Tiktok, Douyin accounts in Vietnam or Vietnamese people living and working in China, and then widely shared. The feature of these platforms is that users can create short videos based on available audio, images and effects, which are highly entertaining. Therefore, the need to find and use new and attractive songs is important.

Hung said the fact that many Vietnamese songs by young artists are taking international social networks by storm is a good sign but not an impressive achievement.

"Many people who use those songs don't hear the lyrics clearly and don't know it's Vietnamese music. They only listen because they have catchy tunes and are different from what they've heard before. They only exploit these songs as background music for TikTok videos or use for other purposes and not to listening to the music," he said.

go to top