Cheaters prosper

By Kim Nga, Phap Luat - Xa Hoi

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You don’t need talent to win Vietnam’s most coveted singing awards, just money or connections - or both

Coach Dam Vinh Hung (R) and his singer Vu Thao My, winner of The Voice Vietnam’s second season. My was considered the weakest among top four and her triumph left critics astonished.  PHOTO COURTESY OF CAT TIEN SA COMPANY

Even famous composer Tran Tien said his award-winning song Chiec vong cau hon (Proposal bracelet) wouldn’t have won anything had it not been for pop star Dam Vinh Hung singing it to take the top prize at “Bai Hat Yeu Thich” (Favorite song) 2013. 
Although critics said Hung’s cover was the worst version of the song ever produced, his massive own personal promotion campaign fueled by his already massive fan base eventually led him to the top honors.
Hung, known as the “King of Vietnamese Pop,” called upon everyone to vote for him at his concerts and every time he set foot in public. He promised 
to launch free shows throughout the country if he won. The singer also played his ace by announcing that he will donate all the cash to help poor music composers. He still has yet to do either. 
Tien’s song, for which Hung butchered the lyrics, topped the Vietnamese charts for 9 weeks and won best song of the month twice before earning the "Bai Hat Yeu Thich" trophy.  
Hung has also been accused of intervening in the results of the second season of The Voice Vietnam last December, which marked his first win as a coach on the show.
Hung’s singer Vu Thao My was considered the weakest among top four and her triumph left critics astonished
Media reports then said that aside from Hung’s self-promotion campaign, My was also helped by her aunt, Vu Thu Phuong, a top-notch model turned fashion designer. 
The results of the show are based on public voting via telephone and rumors had it that Hung and Phuong had bought a massive amount of phone numbers to rig the voting
Hung’s influence was also seen at "Cap Doi Hoan Hao" (Just the Two of Us), which paired him and actress Kim Thu in a duet. The duo caused big controversy for their finish in second place because Thu was criticized as the worst singer in the competition.
This year Mai Vang (Golden Apricot Blossoms), a prestigious annual award by Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborers) newspaper, also stirred the public when Bee-T won the favorite music band spot.
The new-established female band, including The Voice Vietnam’s first season contestant Thieu Bao Trang and her sister Thieu Bao Tram, was considered by many critics to be too new and unpopular to win a readers’ poll.
But the media soon figured out that Bee-T’s win was related to the impact of noted singer and music composer Phuong Uyen, the band’s manager, who has been accused of buying the award. 
In 2012, Uyen also grabbed local headlines for a rumor of having lesbian relationship with Trang and arranging the results of The Voice Vietnam’s first season, for which she was music director. 
Out with the old, in with the new
Much of the criticism of Vietnam’s singing awards has come from critics who say that older singers with years of popularity and huge legions of fans need to make way for new young artists. 
So, Dan Truong is doing just that. 
He has been a pop phenomenon for nearly 20 years and his fans supported him all through a sex-for-money blackmail scandal last year. 
Truong’s huge amount of fans across the country has helped him win many awards over the years. But this is also the reason that Truong is volunteering to quit from some local awards, to make room for more newcomers, he says.

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