Vietnamese Diasporic Music

Depicted above is an announcement for Paris by Night’s 40th anniversary in production for the 2023 year. This was a Vietnamese-style annual musical show that would feature prominent Vietnamese artists. This series is popular among the Vietnamese-American community as it was an outlet for individuals to connect with their culture overseas through music. Many of the motifs and plays featured in the series helped bring a nostalgic feeling of home for many Vietnamese-American immigrants which made it a significant embodiment of how media can connect cultures from across the world. Paris By Night was created in Paris, France given by its name and was created by an immigrant which is what makes it appealing to other Vietnamese people living abroad. One of the prominent features of this series is the music which has gone through many transformations as the Vietnamese who fled the country brought with them the music that they held onto closely. 

A genre featured in Paris By Night and was present during the 1970s was Bolero. This music is notable for its slow-tempo Latin music with origins dating back to 18th century Spain. The use of lyrics that convey romantic and sentimental themes is what resonates with many Vietnamese-Americans as it draws upon deep nostalgia many developed while living in Vietnam at that time period. At the time, Bolero music was branded as “yellow music” as it heavily represented the Southern Vietnamese culture. This genre was eventually banned throughout Vietnam as the Northern government disapproved of its themes and association with the South. When Vietnamese people began fleeing the country, they brought with them these forms of music so that they could always be brought back to simpler times at home. Today, Bolero is gradually becoming more accepted in Vietnam and remains as a stable genre for many Vietnamese-American communities. At many family gatherings, it is common to see Bolero songs on the karaoke machine as individuals are able to relive experiences and memories back in Vietnam. 

In a contemporary era, many children of Vietnamese-American immigrants oftentimes don’t share that connection to the much-cherished genres of music that their parents enjoy but rather have been aligning their tastes to American pop music. However, Vietnamese pop music is also more prominent amongst Vietnamese-Americans as various songs have achieved virality through social media such as Hoang Thuy Linh’s “See Tình” which helps put cultural music in front of Vietnamese-American youth. Furthermore, Vietnamese-American artists are also sources of the growth of the musical scene abroad as creators such as Keshi, Tyga, Thuy, and various others help bring forth a new culture and musicality for a wider audience in differing genres.

Learn More:

Image Source: