Vietnamese teens spread love for music idol

American teenage singer Billie Eilish has stolen the hearts of young people around the world, and Vietnamese teenagers are no exception.

The 18-year-old Grammy Award winner has never set foot in Vietnam, but that hasn't stopped her from winning over fans in the country.

Although you won't hear her songs playing in shopping malls or see her posters plastered on the streets, Eilish has an impressive digital fan base here.

Belonging to Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010), these secondary and high school students have got to know Eilish through digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.

Phuong Nguyen, 17, runs the Facebook page Billie Eilish Vietnam, which has some 89,000 followers and 47,000 likes.

Vietnamese teens spread love for music idol
Screenshot of the Facebook group Billie Eilish Vietnam Fanclub

Nguyen started the page out of personal interest, but gradually felt the need to be more professional.

“At first I wanted to maintain it as a personal blog for fun, but for some reason I wasn’t able to update it very well and decided to take a break,” she told VNS.

“After that I was back on it and decided to develop it into a fan page, not only to express my love for Billie, but also provide updates, information and bring Billie closer to her fans through her music videos and interviews that I’ve subtitled in Vietnamese, as well as reports on her activities on social media.”

Eilish started gaining media attention in the United States in 2016 when her song “Ocean Eyes” went viral overnight on the music streaming platform SoundCloud.

Her reputation spread worldwide in 2019 after she released “Bad Guy”, which went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 record chart and has now had over 858 million views on YouTube.

At the beginning of this year she took home five Grammy Awards, and became the youngest artist to scoop the ceremony's four biggest categories – Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist.

Do Khanh Van, 15, is one of the administrators of the Facebook group Billie Eilish Vietnam Fanclub, with over 5,600 members.

Van said she founded the group because she wanted to have a community to share her interest in Eilish’s music.

“I realised there was no group about Billie at all in Vietnam, so I decided to form this group for fans here,” she told VNS.

“I was struggling to run the group at first because it was only me, and there were only a few members. But luckily for me I have friends who have been fans for a long time who are now my group’s administrators and moderators.

“They have started Facebook pages about Billie themselves, so they have experience, and they are helping me to make the group more interesting.”

 
Vietnamese teens spread love for music idol
Screenshot of the Facebook group Billie Eilish Vietnam Fanclub

"For Eilish to be so popular in Vietnam, the video-sharing social platform TikTok plays a role," Van added.

“With internet connections easily available, it’s not difficult to find music from all over the world, and TikTok is one of the factors that has made Billie Eilish who she is.

“The majority of young people now use TikTok, and take ‘Bad Guy’ for example. It’s been covered by a lot of TikTok users who have a large number of followers, and these followers all watched those videos, and the song gradually became a sensation.”

Vietnamese teens spread love for music idol
Screenshot of the video-sharing platform TikTok where Vietnamese teens upload videos of themselves dancing to Billie Eilish's hit song "Bad Guy". TikTok reached 12 million users in Vietnam in the first quarter of 2019.

Nguyen Le Gia Khanh, 26, a sound editor in HCM City, said: "Social media is a useful tool for independent music makers who don’t have much money to spend."

“Social media help artists without a musical background find their own markets,” he said.

“Or they can be used to help the artists get into the market without having to spend a lot of money to promote their products the traditional way like advertising, brand deals, or signing contracts with big music labels.

“The case of the O’Connell duo (Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell, who is also her producer) is pretty special. I think they will become an icon for a generation of independent artists and ‘bedroom producers’, because they have been producing music in their bedrooms and home studio, and they always showcase the process on social media.

“They will become an inspiration for young artists who make music at home to continue writing, producing and releasing songs.”

Eilish probably didn’t expect her songs to travel half the globe to a country where English is not the mother tongue. 

Music has no boundaries, and virtual communities are helping it to become a universal language so much faster and easier than before. VNS

Bao Hoa

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