The "German Hot Boy" is how the Vietnamese press is calling Trong Hieu. Learning about the contest by coincidence, the singer from Hannover won the talent show "Vietnam Idol."
Trong Hieu's shining performance of "Uptown Funk" turned him into an instant Vietnamese star.
Just before the show on Sunday (02.08.2015) in Ho Chi Minh City, the contest's judge had predicted that Hieu's female rival Bich Ngoc would become the new Vietnamese diva. Yet she trailed far behind, with Hieu getting over 71 per cent of the votes. Along with the "Vietnam Idol" title, he also received a cash prize of 600 million Vietnamese dong (over 25,000 euros).
Trong Hieu's parents are Vietnamese refugees who settled in Germany. He was born in Bavaria and has been living in Hannover.
The European edge
Although Trong Hieu doesn't speak Vietnamese fluently, being German might have given him an edge over the other contestants: "I embody the Western lifestyle, and Asians are really into Europe. That's why I think people find me cool, because there's something unusual about me," he said in an interview with the German public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
The 23-year-old singer has been working on his music for a while. Among the top 25 in the German spin-off of the "Pop Idol" talent show "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" in 2008, he tried his luck at the Eurovision Song Contest this year, without success.
His story draws some parallels to that of "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" contestant Mike Leon Grosch, who was runner-up in 2005. The success of Grosch, who is half Korean, drew media attention in South Korea.
And now, the world
Just before he left on vacation to his parents' home country, a friend had told Hieu about a casting session for the Vietnamese competition, and he decided to participate. Now he plans to stay in Vietnam for a while to give concerts and further work on his music.
He doesn't plan to settle down in the Southeast Asian country however. In an interview with the news portal "ngoisao.net," the young singer made his ambitions clear: "First Vietnam, then the world."