The Vietnamese love their music. And I sure do love theirs.
Here’s a lovingly put-together collection of Vietnamese songs from my time in Saigon.
Expect sexiness, hilarity and some block-rockin beetz.
Hà Okio – Sài Gòn Cafe Sữa Đá
This cheerful little ditty will be stuck in your head for days.
It’s a homage to Saigon’s special beverage – the humble iced milk coffee (cafe sua da). But the drink stands for more than just simple refreshment in this song. It’s a symbol for the singer’s pride and love for his city, celebrated humbly with each strum of his ukelele.
In the video Ha Okio takes you on a gentle tour through his beloved city, strumming his ukelele betwixt famous landmarks and everyday sights. If you’ve ever visited Saigon, you’ll glow pink with nostalgia.
Sơn Tùng M-TP – EM CỦA NGÀY HÔM QUA
K-pop is huge in Vietnam, so it’s no surprise that V-pop has emerged as a cultural tour-de-force. Pretty packaged artists are producing hits in their hundreds, complete with flashy music videos, backup dancers and outlandish visuals that make you go ‘wut’.
This tune can be heard pumping from within every cafe, karaoke bar and set of headphones in Ho Chi Minh City.
I’m pretty sure posters of Son Tung M-TP are on the walls of every teenage girl, too. Just look at that fabulous hair and guy-liner. Serving androgynous heart-breaker realness.
Sĩ Thanh – Oh My Chuối (Oops Banana)
No other song sends Vietnamese schoolkids absolutely batshit crazy from the sheer mention of its name.
Remember how Miley Cyrus got everyone riled up when she started licking sledgehammers and taking her clothes off? Si Thanh sent similar shockwaves through Vietnam when she released this tongue-in-cheek pop song.
In the video she sings about bananas whilst gesturing the motions for eating bananas. Yup.
BigDaddy ft Hạnh Sino – Nóng
One for the beer clubs.
BigDaddy is a big name in Vietnam, known for his slick rap and sense of humour. You can’t help but smile when watching this video.
This song is about being too hot (Nong = hot in Vietnamese), but I’ll leave the subtext up to you to figure out.
Speaking from personal experience, this song whips night-out crowds into a twerking, gyrating frenzy. Think Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’ for the Saigon Special drinking masses.
Wowy & Karik – Hai Thế Giới
Vietnamese hip-hop with big ideas and a distinct creativity.
Saigon rappers Wowy Nguyen and Karik showcase an inspired talent, discussing everything from sex to spirituality in their music. It’s a welcome example of how contemporary music in this country can be progressive and experimental, in a V-pop and Taylor Swift dominated land.
This song talks about life in Saigon. But it’s in Vietnamese, so bring your translation A-game.
HỒ QUANG HIẾU – CON BƯỚM XUÂN
This handsome chap sings on one of the most popular Tet Holiday tracks in the country, getting everyone bopping and humming away in preparation for the Lunar New Year.
While a little strange, the video gives you a glimpse into Tet traditions. These include giving gifts of money (usually in red paper envelopes), wearing the traditional Ao Dai and generally taking on the attitude of community and good cheer.
But if culture isn’t your bag you can always appreciate a good pink shirt – bowtie combo.