PSY and his Gangnam-styled good looks are making the dreams of every American fan come true. The galloping rapper announced that he will record his next single in English, ensuring that devout K-poppers in the US will have more than the words "Ehh sexy baby" to look forward to.
According to an interview with the BBC, PSY began work on the song this week. But writing a follow-up with the same viral punch as his breakout dance video -- in a foreign language no less -- has proved more difficult than you'd think.
"It's too much pressure to overcome Gangnam Style," he lamented to the BBC. "It's really hard."
We can imagine. The YouTube phenomenon has clicked in at 350 million views and counting, a fete matched only by ornery British babies and boyfriends of Selena Gomez. Good thing PSY recently signed with Justin Bieber-backed Schoolboy Records.
Still, the Gangnam powerhouse is hesitant to solely rely on the internet gods that be. "The problem is my music video is more popular than I am," he admitted. "That's a big problem for me right now, so I've got to overcome my music video first. I've got to come to the UK, I've got to go everywhere to promote myself, who I am and what I've done for 12 years in Korea."
Well, we wish you luck Mr. Park Jae Sang. Let us know what you think of PSY's decision in the comments section. And check out a guide to all things Gangnam in the slideshow below.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jeff Yang explains that Psy is part of a corps of entertainers known in South Korea as "gwang-dae," after "a caste of performers traditionally attached to royal households" who had license to skewer those in power. The founder of a K-Pop database told Yang that today's unofficial gwang-dae -- such as Psy -- are "clown or jester-like," and that unlike mainstream K-Pop stars, they don't have to be sexy to be popular. The closest analog in America she could offer was Andy Samberg and Lonely Island, except that “In Korea, gwang-dae actually top the music charts." Ouch!
In NY Mag, Hua Hsu posits that Psy's "satire, irony and swagger" stem from him not being from Gangnam. Au contraire! Psy is a native son of the wealthy district, according to the NY Times, and traveled to the US for higher education, in the way of so many privileged Gangnam tots. (South Korean students at Manhattan's Parsons School of Design are all from "the same few blocks in Gangnam," according to writer Sukjong Hong.)
Which brings us to this period. Yes, Psy learned some things during his time studying at Boston University and the nearby Berklee College of Music in the nineties, though what precisely is debatable. A BU spokesman told boston.com that Psy studied English for a semester in 1997, but "no one remembers him at this point." Over at Berklee, he never declared a major, and took classes in voice and clarinet. The Atlantic's Max Fisher makes more of the stint than just woodwind lovin' though, suggesting that the "exposure to American music's penchant for social commentary, and the time spent abroad that may have given him a new perspective on his home country, could inform [Psy's] apparently somewhat critical take on South Korean society."
Everyone got excited when a video of Psy performing Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in 2011, dressed as Beyonce, was discovered. Tell us what isn't exciting about that! It turns out though, crossdressing is old hat for our modern hero. In a wide-ranging interview on the South Korean chat show "Healing Camp," Psy talks about growing out of his old schtick of dressing up as popular lady singers. Roughly translated into English: “Since being married, I don’t feel comfortable wearing those racy clothes. I kind of feel like a local clown. Do I still need to crossdress to make my fans happy?”
Scooter Braun, the evil genius who manages Justin Bieber AND Carly Rae Jepsen, did the deed with Psy earlier this month. "We've come to an agreement to make some history together," Braun says in a video marking the occasion of him signing Psy. Psy will soon and forever after be known as the "first Korean artist to break a big record in the United States," Braun promises. No shame right now, we are excited.
Do yourself a favor and head to that super long "Healing Camp" interview we mentioned earlier. Scroll to about eight minutes and 30 seconds in and prepare to make the exact same expression the "Healing Camp" host to the left has on. Because this is the section where Psy gruesomely details his solution to the painful leg cramps that "paralyze" him on stage, according to the closed captioning. To manage, he introduced DJing segments into his concerts 2 and a half hours in, when the pain peaked. "I would be standing behind the DJ box covering my lower body, [and] while I am DJing and dancing, my physical trainers would come up behind me and start prodding my legs to dissolve the blood clots." This procedure is apparently done with 30 to 40 acupuncture needles, after which “a pool of dark red blood oozes out." And scene.