Từ Minh Hy – Mickey

I’m a sucker for new music. So when I saw the debut album Mickey of newcomer Tu Minh Hy, I just had to give it a spin. As it turns out, this curvaceous eye candy can rock like no other on the fast tracks. It is the slow tracks, however, that exploit her vocal weakness.

Playing puppet for washed-up doll Thanh Thao, whose record label Music Box Entertainment sponsors and boasts exclusive rights to the young artist, TMH proves that she can fill the shoes of her mentor and then some. On the title track, she asserts herself as a prolific wordsmith by translating the 1982 US hit by Toni Basil. Her lyrics flow easily and freely. Accompanied by a line of percussions, she seems perfect for the song, as her soprano vocal rides the beat and flirt with the scampering keyboard effortlessly. The techno-inflected “Loi Lam” is another instance of a fine marriage of vocal and chords. The tonal mangling of Antares’ Auto-Tune technology (known as the “Cher effect”) alters TMH’s voice at the precise chords to deliver a raw nightclub experience. Bossy Thanh Thao joins TMH in “Dung Hua Voi Em,” a complete rip off of Minh Tuyet’s rendition in Paris by Night 89. Next to the little tyke, Thanh Thao’s voice carries much more substance, even with the annoying, ineloquent Vietnamese rapping along side.

The album also profiles two of TMH’s own compositions. In “A, Em Mo” she reminisces after dreaming of a distant lover. The electric and acoustic guitar picks are intoxicating, and by the end of the song, you wish that you were that lucky guy. Her second composition “Con Co Em Trong Doi,” however, is an abrasively bad piece. The song tells of a homeless orphan scavenging the streets, accompanying by, get this, the drum beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Which genius thought of that combo?

Interfering the rock fest are 3 slow ballads, which were totally mutilated by TMH’s bland vocal and lack of resonance. As much soul as Thanh Thao and Lam Chi Khanh have brought to “Dem Tu Ly,” TMH sucks all the life out of that song along with her listeners. Rather than replaying it the second time, you’ll feel less pain trying to remove your earwax with needles.

With flowing song-writing ability, wicked handwork on the acoustic, and a sultry body, TMH resembles the young My Tam. However, unlike My Tam who can also cover soulful titles like “Duong Nhu Ta Da” and “Uoc Gi,” TMH can only entertain her audience with rock tunes. She needs to show versatility and master the soft ballads if she’s going to achieve the same level of super stardom.