Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Bích Phương – Bùa Yêu

We’re certainly charmed…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Bích Phương teams up once again with Tiên Cookie, Phạm Thanh Hà, and Dương K to create what is arguably the best song from any of their discographies. Bích Phương’s vocalizing is at once hypnotic and desperate, seductive and lonely. The song’s structure is marvelously in line with the lyrics, and it even ends with a spacious synth pop section that’s appropriately underwhelming. Sometimes, waiting for a lover isn’t worth it; you’ll only end up feeling empty.

Nicholas Donohoue: This is a masterful con job: alluring, disconcerting, passionately aloof. That the song denies expectations and keeps playing hot and cold makes knots in the stomach. That the coos echo like an aftershock is a brilliant clash in play. That the words read a little too easy, but the music comes up in apprehension both calms and warns. It’s a lovely time for something that’s built to raise red flags.

Jonathan Bogart: A carefully constructed web of contrasting textures and sounds, with plenty of negative space so that the plucks and coos reverberate all the more, building slowly up through winsome choruses and finally crescendoing in plosive ’80s drumpads and half-buried vocals rising through the fog. Phương’s vocals are chilled ice, suspended weightless within the song’s superstructure where another singer might have bulldozed through it, destroying its delicacy.

Josh Love: I kept expecting “Bùa Yêu” to really take off but it just keeps resolving back to a pallid bit of coffeeshop guitar. We finally detect a pulse around the two-and-a-half minute mark but it’s basically perfunctory. The lyrics translate to a lovesick vow that includes the testimonial “I love being home, and I cook so well / I’m good at sewing and embroidery,” so unless I’m missing a layer of irony here, at least it can’t be said that the demureness of words and music don’t match.

Julian Axelrod: On an intellectual level, I can appreciate the choice to withhold the chorus drop until the 2:30 mark. But that leaves me half-engaged for half the song, and when we finally get the goods it’s hard to justify the wait. For a song that’s so well-executed in every other aspect, it’s frustrating to see it undone by such a simple oversight.

Frank Kogan: The lyrics on closed-caption announce the young woman’s availability, while her very precise and contained singing slides deftly away into the international pop distance. As courtship this is utterly gorgeous, even if it has has nothing to do with life, or love.

Iain Mew: Back in the days of dialup internet and having to wait for family members to get off the phone before I could take my alotted internet time, I told an online friend via email that I thought I loved her. It only took a day to hear back but it was the longest and most unproductive day ever. This experience came to mind in listening to “Bùa Yêu,” which in its setting out of cooking and sewing credentials has the feeling of submitting an application for a romantic role and waiting for the results. It’s not about the drama of something happening, but the moments in between when you have time to think about it and can’t help running through every way it could turn out. The song draws out the wait exquisitely, never resolving but staying as elegant as it is tense. Bích Phương’s performance is full of nuanced feeling, and the result is a controlled emotional detonation.

Reader average: [5.8] (5 votes)

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2 Responses to “Bích Phương – Bùa Yêu”

  1. This track is great!

  2. I wish we had women perspectives on this.