Famous Vietnamese Songs

The term “world music” is often used to describe sounds from African and Middle Eastern countries. But since music is the one universal language, we shouldn’t forget that every culture has its own music.

These below famous Vietnamese songs represent a slice of world music many Westerners overlook but really shouldn’t.

“Ái Nộ” by Masew

Song Year: 2019

If you needed proof that EDM (electronic dance music) is worldwide, you’ve got “Ái Nộ” making that case. It’s not the most aggressive dance music, but the electronica backing up Masew’s vocals is on point.

The number-one hit on Vietnamese charts is about a complicated romantic relationship with lyrics describing the struggles and conflicts between two lovers. There’s jealousy, insecurity, and betrayal— you know, the hallmarks of any healthy relationship.

“Blue Tequila” by Táo

Song Year: 2018

Combining pop and hip-hop elements, Táo’s “Blue Tequila” features the rapper’s near-falsetto singing voice juxtaposed against the booming low-end frequencies of his rapping voice. And there are prominent strings. To the hip-hop fan raised on East Coast vs. West Coast rap, the overall effect can be a bit jarring, as it definitely has some LL Cool J “I Need Love” vibes.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a different sound. However, it worked, as the song racked up millions of YouTube views and put Táo on the charts in Vietnam.

“Càng Lớn Càng Cô Đơn” by JayKii

Song Year: 2018

This pop ballad was one of the biggest hits of 2018 in Vietnam as audiences related well to the lyrics: “Càng Lớn Càng Cô Đơn” is mostly about the struggles and loneliness of growing up.

Most of us remember the insecurities and violent emotions we faced as kids, and JayKii captures it well here. Probably helping the song do well, also, is the Broadway-adjacent chord progression, especially in the chorus. It’s a song you could easily imagine a young Hunter Foster belting out in the Henry Miller theater.

“Đế Vương” by Đình Dũng

Song Year: 2019

Đình Dũng is a singer and actor who made his mark by winning the Vietnamese version of the competition show “The Voice.” Why he won is apparent in “Đế Vương,” a song whose title translates as “Emperor Vương.” His voice is light and clear, and it’s filled with the emotion inherent in the song.

The lyrics tell of an emperor who loves his country and its people, but he can’t find true happiness. Why not? He’s the emperor, right? Well, he’s a good emperor, so while he’s in love with someone who doesn’t love him back, he doesn’t use his power to force her into submission.

“Đu đưa” by Bích Phương

Song Year: 2018

While “Đu đưa” translates to “let’s swing,” in the context of Bích Phương’s danceable 2018 hit, it can also mean “let’s hang out,” as in, “let’s get together, dance, and have some fun.” The singer spends the song flirting with a guy and debating with herself whether it’s okay to make the first move.

And in spite of the high-energy electronica surrounding her vocals, Phương’s singing voice is pure and clear. It’s a very pretty sound, making it seem all the more likely that the guy in question will fall under her spell.

“Dịu Dàng Em Đến” by Erik

Song Year: 2017

Erik brings soulful vocals to his songs, and he’s been rewarded for it with lots of hits since he burst onto the Vietnamese music scene in 2015.

“Dịu Dàng Em Đến” is a mid-tempo ballad about being in love. Erik uses his voice to convey those emotions present in the first flush of love as he sings about wanting to spend as much time as possible with his new romantic interest. He looks forward to seeing her night after night.

The song ranked high on the list of hit songs for 2017 in Vietnam.

“Em Hát Ai Nghe” by Orange

Song Year: 2020

Orange has a sweet and soothing voice. “Em Hát Ai Nghe” translates to something like, “I’m singing. Who is listening?” Put the sentiment with the voice, and you’ve got a really beautiful ballad about a broken heart.

The fact that it’s coming from someone as young as Orange (born in 1997, she looks even younger than she is) makes it sadder. But in the end, she sings about how, after the rain stops, the flowers bloom, so there are elements of hope underlying her despair.

“Hãy Trao Cho Anh” by Sơn Tùng M-TP feat. Snoop Dogg

Song Year: 2019

While it starts out as a synth-pop song complete with some autotune on the opening “la la la”s, “Hãy Trao Cho Anh” gives way to a driving electronic beat underlying Sơn Tùng M-TP’s rapping.

The song is about getting together with a romantic interest, and if there was any question about the kinds of activities Sơn Tùng M-TP hopes to engage in, it’s all cleared up with Snoop Dogg’s short, unexpected, and deadly cool cameo in the middle of the song.

Getting Snoop to appear on your rap song is a power move that gives you instant credibility. Nice work.

“Họ Yêu Ai Mất Rồi” by Doãn Hiếu

Song Year: 2018

From the opening piano notes of “Họ Yêu Ai Mất Rồi,” you just know it will be a sad song. When you learn that the title translates to something along the lines of “she loves someone else,” your suspicions get confirmed.

The pain of lost love and the wish for the one who’s gone away to come back are palpable in Doãn Hiếu’s delivery, as he puts real emotion into his voice.

Another veteran of Vietnam’s iteration of “The Voice,” Doãn Hiếu sings a lot of songs about love and relationships. Thankfully, they’re not all as sad as this one.

“I’m Still Loving You” by Noo Phước Thịnh

Song Year: 2016

It’s rare that an uptempo, danceable track can feel like a lot of fun while also being pretty dang sad. The implication in the title is that the narrator might still be in love, but the song’s lyrics go on to reveal that he’s still hung up on an ex, and that’s a pain that transcends language and geographical barriers.

Why the song switches to English long enough for Thịnh to sing the title is anyone’s guess, as the song’s minor key eventually conveys the inherent heartbreak despite the bouncy drum track.

“Khi Em Lớn” by Orange featuring Hoàng Dũng

Song Year: 2019

“Khi Em Lớn” is a song about heartbreak, but it’s told in the context of essentially getting what you hoped for.

The title translates to “when I grow up,” and the lyrics start out with the typical little kid wish— when I’m a grown-up, I’ll get to do cool things like stay up late. But as the song progresses, the narrator admits that now that she’s grown up, she knows what a broken heart feels like, and that wasn’t something she planned on learning when she was little.

The hit song garnered more than 20 million YouTube streams, and Orange remains a big star in Vietnamese music.

“Khuê Mộc Lang” by Hương Ly feat. Jombie G5R

“Khuê Mộc Lang” by Hương Ly feat. Jombie G5R

Song Year: 2021

Couched in poetic lyrics telling a story that incorporates legend and fantasy, “Khuê Mộc Lang” is, at its heart, a song about lost love, as so many songs are.

When Hương Ly sings, her verses are about an ancient being named Khuê Mộc Lang who has lost his beloved. When Jombie G5R makes his rapping cameo, he does so as the title character. He tells his story of leaving immortality behind to be with the one he loves only to lose her to death.

“Mang Tiền Về Cho Mẹ” by Đen feat. Nguyên Thảo

Song Year: 2017

As a tribute to his mother, Đen’s ode “Mang Tiền Về Cho Mẹ” is heartfelt. The Vietnamese rapper ticks off all the things that his mother did for him and offers his love and gratitude to her.

The lyrics also address how hard life is as an adult and how moms are the ones who prepare us for that harsh reality.

Nguyên Thảo’s angelic voice chimes in to remind listeners how important mothers are in molding the people those listeners grow up to be.

“Muộn Rồi Mà Sao Còn” by Sơn Tùng M-TP

Song Year: 2019

This melancholy song finds Sơn Tùng M-TP singing about regrets. The narrator can’t sleep because of his bad fortune in love. This puts him in a tough spot, since all he wants to do, now that he doesn’t have the one he loves with him anymore, is dream about being with her.

The music video shows Sơn Tùng M-TP trying to sleep, but it also depicts some surreal scenes that connote the dreams he’s unable to have at present.

“Muộn Rồi Mà Sao Còn” has almost 200 million YouTube streams.

“Răng Khôn” by Phí Phương Anh feat. RIN9

Song Year: 2018

With 80s-era vibes “Răng Khôn” contains lyrics about first love. And that 1980s reference isn’t an insult. The song has a nostalgic feel to it, which goes well with the lyrical content. You can almost hear Debbie Gibson singing this one.

The ballad finds Phí Phương Anh applying her beautiful voice to an emotional set of lyrics to great effect. Fans agreed as the song was one of the bigger hits in Vietnam in 2018.

“Sài Gòn Hôm Nay Mưa by Hoàng Duyên and Jsol

Song Year: 2020

In “Sài Gòn Hôm Nay Mưa,” we hear Hoàng Duyên singing about how it’s raining in Saigon, and that reminds her of the rain in her heart. When Jsol chimes in, he reveals that he’s sad about a breakup, as well. The song finds two ex-lovers talking through their feelings of loss.

While many songs use rain to show that there’s a rainbow at the end, there’s not much hope in Hoàng Duyên’s assertion that the rain will only serve to melt her away. That’s a sad woman.

“Sợ Ta Mất Nhau” by Châu Khải Phong

Song Year: 2014

Do you remember, back in the 80s, when “Every Breath You Take” was everywhere? And remember how everyone thought it was this beautiful love song, but it was quite creepy, as the narrator was straight up a stalker?

There’s some of that going on in “Sợ Ta Mất Nhau,” which borders on being a power ballad. The narrator sings, rather dejectedly, not about lost love but about the possibility that his girl might leave him.

Listening to the music and not the words would make a listener think this is a song about terrible heartache. But it’s really about being scared that terrible heartbreak is around the corner. You get the idea the narrator might be following his girl around the city in a paranoid state.

“Thế Nào Là Tình Yêu” by Kai Đinh

Song Year: 2019

As soulful ballads go, you could do a lot worse than Kai Đinh’s “Thế Nào Là Tình Yêu.” It’s got a plaintive guitar line and a touching melody. The lyrics touch on the challenges that face even the healthiest of romantic relationships and remind us that heartbreak isn’t just reserved for single people.

The title means “what is love?” and presages the emotional delivery we get from Kai Đinh in this bittersweet song.

The swelling bridge is pretty cool, too.

“Trốn Tìm” by Đen feat. MTV Band

Song Year: 2018

Đen uses the childhood game of Hide and Seek (the English translation of the title) as a metaphor for the search for love in a cold world.

But it’s also about how we go about finding ourselves, as the two kids in the song who are playing Hide and Seek try to navigate the garden in which they play.

Đen is a hugely famous rapper in Vietnam, likely due to his singular delivery— he doesn’t sound like any other rapper, and not just because he’s not rapping in English. It’s a distinctive sound, and coupled with the song’s occasional Spanish musical flairs, it makes for a cool piece of music that Đen’s fans absolutely devoured.

“Tết Hà Há Ha” by Trúc Nhân

Song Year: 2019

Trúc Nhân’s “Tết Hà Há Ha” is a fun pop song that’s a lighthearted celebration of the Lunar New Year, also known as Tet.

Think of the joy inherent in most Christmas carols in the West, and you have an idea of what the Lunar New Year holiday is and what “Tết Hà Há Ha” brings to the musical celebrations surrounding it.

It’s not exactly Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” but it was a pretty big hit in Vietnam.

“Yêu Là Cưới” by Phát Hồ

Song Year: 2020

“Yêu Là Cưới” is a wedding song, and the title means “Love is a wedding.” It’s about how love can be a challenge and evokes some Western marriage traditions. Anyone who’s been involved in a big wedding knows that “challenge” might be a euphemism for all the stress weddings can bring.

But more than just about weddings, Phát Hồ’s upbeat song is also about the happiness that love can bring and how that joy is worth all the troubles.

Best Vietnamese Songs, Final Thoughts

Popular Vietnamese songs have Western influences, to be sure, but they also constitute a genre of music with its own cultural and musical identity. While some of the best Vietnamese songs are about lost love, Vietnamese artists run the gamut of subjects the write, sing, and rap about.

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