The Y factor

By Da Ly - Thien Huong, Thanh Nien News

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Singer Anh Thuy (L), who disguised as Huyen Minh (R) in a performance on The X-Factor Vietnam competition, aired March 30. Photo courtesy of Lao Dong

She was sitting pretty, having won a lot of support from judges and the audience, both for having a good voice and for fighting to overcome her adverse circumstances, working as a waitress in a café.
But the favorite contestant has just announced she is walking away from the second season of The X-Factor Vietnam, an adaptation of the original UK singing contest, after the public pointed out that she was a former member of a popular girl band and is still, indeed, a singer.
Organizers have since confirmed her identity and suspicions have arisen that she is just part of a publicity con that went awry.
The performance of singer Anh Thuy, who joined the show under the name “Nguyen Thi Huyen Minh,” was aired on the first night of the program after nearly five months of preparation and auditions March 30.
She wore a mask, all back clothes and a black wool hat covering her hair.
She said on stage that she loves singing and joining the contest can help her realize her dream, and that she had to wear the mask as a recent accident at work left many scars on her face.
But viewers then pointed to physical and technical similarities between her and the former member of May Trang (White Clouds), a popular girl band formed in 2000 and still having two members.
The comparison was made even easier when “Minh” covered Céline Dion’s “It’s all coming back to me now” which Thuy had sung in another singing contest, “The Winner Is”.
Thuy said in a post on her Facebook page April 2 that she meant no harm and only intended to approach the audience with a new image, maybe to start her singing career anew.
She said she made up that coffee shop story out of panic when she was pushed for personal stories after passing the audition round.
Then the show directors and producers programmed her backstage scenes based on what she said, and also told her to repeat the same story for TV cameras.
Referring to the moment when she burst out in tears on stage after finishing the song, Thuy said it was real emotion as she felt happy and inspired after receiving loud applause as a new person. “I do not act that well.”
“I was wrong in pretending to be another person… This is my first mistake in my career and I hope people will forgive me,” she said on her Facebook page.
Thuy had met with the organizers the day after the broadcast and said she wanted to show up as a new person to have new emotions and because of the pressure she would have if she auditioned as a singer. She also felt intimidated by the scars on her face, which were caused by the traffic accident, as well as the acne that developed when she used traditional herbs to heal them.
She said she had been receiving cosmetic treatment for a month before the filming day and used thick make-up so the scars were not so visible. Recent photos on her Facebook page have been photoshopped to delete the scars, she said.
She also claimed that Nguyen Hoang Minh, general director of media company Cat Tien Sa, which co-organizes the show with Vietnam Television, had sympathized her situation and introduced her to a spa in Ho Chi Minh City, where she received free treatment from its director Diem Hang.
Hang told local media the same story, saying she did not even know singer Anh Thuy so she had no suspicion, while Minh refused to comment on the case as saying it was hard to give a proper explanation at the moment.
He said the company will release more details later after they’re done working with Thuy.
Cat Tien Sa, one of the biggest TV program producers in the country, has said little so far except for a confirmation statement on April 1 that Huyen Minh and Anh Thuy are one person, and an apology later. But it pinned the entire blame on Thuy.
It said the organizers had asked Thuy about the accusation, which Thuy rejected. They had also asked “Minh” the same question and received a similar denial.
The organizers also demanded that “Minh” takes off her mask, but she’d declined, so they had no conclusive evidence until the night of the first broadcast, the statement claimed.
But these excuses raised questions about the organizers’ ability or willingness to check contestants’ profiles. The contest is open to all Vietnamese citizens 16 years old and older, and they are required to bring their ID cards.
A contestant reaching the broadcast night has to have sung at least three times to the people from the organization board and go through at least one working session with music director Phuong Uyen, also a popular singer songwriter.
Uyen, who resigned from another adapted singing contest, The Voice Vietnam, during its first season in 2012 after a video revealed she’d fixed results, has denied her involvement in a Facebook post. However, she also speculated that a whole team could have set up the drama.
Pop singer Dam Vinh Hung, one of the three judges who’d came up on stage to comfort “Minh” when she cried after the performance, also said he did not know it was Thuy.
His fellow judge, pop singer Ho Ngoc Ha, said in a recent Facebook post without naming names that she felt offended for being made part of a scam.
Both Hung and Ha were judges of The Voice Vietnam 2012. Hung is still a judge of the show, which is also organized by Cat Tien Sa.
The Voice Vietnam has been criticized for using songs without owners’ permits.

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