We recently put out a call to our readers and YouTube viewers asking them who they want to perform at the debut Eurovision Asia Song Contest. Amid all the talk of Korean and Japanese pop stars, the name of one Vietnamese artist has continually cut through: Son Tung M-TP.
In recent years the 23-year-old has cut a path from the underground to the mainstream, racking up more than 600 million YouTube views in the process. In January he became the very first Vietnamese artist to earn one million YouTube subscribers (he’s now up to 1.8 million).
His music video for “Lac Troi” suggests even bigger things are yet to come. Released on December 31 of last year, the glossy video earned 38 million views in its first ten days online. That made it one of the top trending YouTube videos globally and it now counts nearly 155 million views. Those are numbers many Eurovision stars can only dream of.
The self-assured singer, who parted ways with his label and set up his own entertainment company in December, lives up to the M-TP in his name. M stands for music; T stands for tai nang (talent); P stands for phong cach (style). He puts all three of those qualities on fine display in “Lac Troi”, whose title translates roughly as “lost and floating”.
Recounting a story of lost love, Song Tung serves major face in the four-and-a-half minute spectacle that melds Old World Chinese cinema with cutting edge technology and a splash of fantasy. Warrior, lover, fighter, musician — Song Tung plays all these parts with dramatic flair, serving a heady mix of sensuality, pain and even anger. Whether sitting on a throne, steering a boat or pining away for his beloved in a royal jacuzzi, he works avant-garde threads and a variety of hair styles that would make Dolly Style jealous.
Musically the song bridges time and culture. The opening suggests something traditional and Vietnamese. But the sound soon gives way to a mish-mash of R&B, house, trap and rap. Vietnamese rap, you say? Just watch him break it down — while wearing a red robe and drinking straight from a tea pot. Dude has ‘tude and it’s strangely irresistible.
About Son Tung M-TP
The son of a businessman and a theatrical singer, Son Tung began competing in piano and singing competitions as a child. During high school he joined an underground group of artists known as LadyKillah and created a studio in his bedroom, using only an old computer (donated by a relative) and free recording software he found on the Internet.
After completing vocal training at the Conservatory of Ho Chi Minh City, he continued to share songs on the Internet, hitting it big with “Con Mua Ngang Qua” (“The Rain Gone By”). The song soon landed him on “The Favourite Song” — a nationally televised song contest — and his track won song of the month. Upbeat, happy and brimming with sunshine, the song reflects his personality and cheeky swagger.
Since then he’s released countless hits like “Em Cua Ngay Hom Qua” (“You of Yesterday”) — a R&B-tinged ballad that’s racked up more than 98 million hits on YouTube.
He cemented his status as an A-lister when he starred in the 2014 film Chang Trai Nam Ay (Dandelion). And in 2015 he competed on The Remix, which sees Vietnamese stars preforming remixes of hits. In August of that year he won the coveted MTV Award for Best Southeast Asia Act.
Are you loving Son Tung M-TP? Does he have the M, T and P? And could he compete with the slick artists that Australia, Japan and South Korea are bound to field? Let us know in the comments box below.