K-POP UPDATE: NEW, WET PSY

After months of anticipation, last April 12 Psy released his follow-up to his 2012 mega-smash “Gangnam Style”.  Entitled “Gentleman”, it hews closely to the formula of his previous hit, with a catchy electro-dance beat and hooks galore.  The video also on the surface likewise follows closely to the “Gangnam Style” template, with the return of the two comedians (Noh Hong-Chul a.k.a. “elevator guy” and Yoo Jae-Suk a.k.a. the guy in the yellow suit), some comedic hijinks, a memorable dance, and a K-Pop leading lady (this time, Ga-In from the Brown Eyed Girls).  Below is the video.

When I first listened to the song prior to the video premiere, I was a little disappointed as at first listen it is not as good as “Gangnam Style”.  The hooks do grow on you, but “Gangnam Style” still has the edge.  The song does sound better when you watch the official video, but there are things that make me extremely uncomfortable–though amusing, Psy’s behavior throughout most of the video is the opposite of the title and frankly reprehensible.  Some might find a “deeper” interpretation about the status of women living in Korea in Psy’s antics, which may ring true.  Anyway, Psy got a bit of comeuppance when he came into contact with Ga-In, and her presence (and the implicit blessing allowing Psy to use her group’s famous “Abracadabra” and “Sixth Sense” dances) made me giddy about the video that I could overlook the objectionable content this time.  It was not merely the appearance of Ga-In that made me giddy–I was salivating the potential new exposure the Brown Eyed Girls might get from this, as they are arguably the best, most talented girl group from Korea in terms of musical ability and musical quality (though they are not as big as 2NE1, Girls Generation, the Wonder Girls, Sistar, and T-ARA).  Below is the video to the Brown-Eyed Girls 2009 smash “Abracadabra”–I’ll discuss more about them in my next blog.

So why did he rehash another dance?  I presume after laying down the groove and the track for this song, and while brainstorming with choreographers, Psy can’t help but perform the “Abracadabra” dance with the groove, and so it was reported they paid the original choreographers for the right to do the dance, plus an added bonus of hiring Ga-in as leading lady.  And this is not the first time Psy performed this dance–remember how portions of his concerts include him performing in drag to the latest dances by female acts? (Remember Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”?  He also does Korean female acts like Sistar’s hit “Alone”, too).  One of his numbers included “Abracadabra”.  Proof is found at the 2:30 mark of his 2010 track “It’s Art” video, embedded below:

Psy had mentioned that he wanted to go into a sexier direction with this song, and in many ways, he delivered on that.  It also made me reflect that his recent career track so far is mirroring now-on-hiatus duo LMFAO.  Remember how “Gangnam Style” was compared to “Party Rock Anthem”?  This song is his equivalent to their other smash, “Sexy and I Know It”.

Though many pundits wanted Psy to fail so they can dismiss him as a one-hit wonder, the big splash this video made with records broken for biggest number of YouTube views in one day (38 million) and quick rise to over 250 million (and counting, though the pace has now slowed significantly), along with the song’s ascent in various international music charts, at least Psy has another hit, albeit one that may not have the surprising legs of his breakthrough.  Still, those staggering YouTube numbers are not to be sneezed at nor dismissed.

Inevitably, parody videos and cover versions have quickly sprouted up.  The first bonafide, fully-realized parody version came from one of my favorite bloggers, Simon and Martina of the website Eat Your Kimchi, dubbed “Eat Your Kimchi Like A Man”–it was released less than 72 hours from the release of the original video, and it’s a fun, cheesy romp.

Of the cover versions I heard, the one I enjoyed the most is the one by Korean indie band Led Apple–they added a hard rock element and a bit of menace by cutting through the obvious self-censoring and utter the lines “mother-f***ing gentleman” instead of “mother father gentleman”.

Here in the Philippines, what is trending are home videos of shirtless attractive men doing the “Gentleman / Abracadabra” dance.  Below is so far the most popular one around:

All in all, “Gentleman” seems to qualify as a success, but likely one that is fleeting a la “Harlem Shake”.  But I’m a bit frustrated that the world has not really realized the depth of talent and the range of musicality Psy actually possesses–hopefully whatever he will release after this song would address that and he will finally be able to sustain an international career.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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