I watched the Psy live concert at the Seoul World Cup Staduim on YouTube earlier this evening. Psy gave a very energetic performance and I chuckled at his parody of Beyonce. The highlight of the concert was the unveiling of the music video for Psy’s latest single “Gentleman”.
"Gentleman", the long-awaited follow-up to "Gangnam Style", hit online stores Friday in a midnight rolling release across 119 nations. In a move that surprised some industry experts and frustrated a lot of fans, it was released without the music video which had been the main focus of anticipation and speculation.
Some 50,000 fans packed Seoul's World Cup stadium for the concert, which comes at a time of soaring military tensions with North Korea, and with South Korea's armed forces on heightened alert for an expected missile test. Psy and 50,000 fans gave a "shout out" to the people of North Korea at his concert.
At a press conference before the concert, the 35-year-old South Korean rapper also acknowledged the "enormous pressure" of following a global phenomenon like "Gangnam Style, but argued he had been singing too long to be called a one-hit wonder.
Describing the division of the Korean peninsula as a "tragedy", Psy said he wanted North Koreans to share in the "fun and happiness" of his music.
"Gangnam Style"and Psy's signature horse-riding dance catapulted him to global stardom last year after it was posted on YouTube, becoming the most-watched YouTube video of all time with more than 1.5 billion views since it debuted last July. It also made him the biggest star to emerge from the growing K-pop music scene and Psy's horse-riding moves sparked an international dance craze.
"Gangnam Style" was always going to be a hard act to follow, and "Gentleman" has had a mixed reception as Psy acknowledged, although he was happy with its initial chart showing.
"Many expressed disappointment, saying I made too many calculations and I should have remade some of the songs I did in the past. But this is the best song, best work and the best choice I could possibly do," he said.
"I made the song feeling enormous pressure," he added. "Gentleman" went straight into the top five of the iTunes charts in South Korea and other Asian markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, but could only manage 90th spot in the crucial US equivalent.
The song – a satire of a self-proclaimed "gentleman" trying to woo women at a party – contains more English lyrics than "Gangnam Style" in a clear nod to the singer's newfound global audience.
"Let me tell you about myself. I'm such a charmer with guts, vigour and humour," Psy sings in Korean before launching into the song's English catch-line: "I'm a mother-father gentleman."
"Gonna make you sweat. Gonna make you wet. You know who I am? Wet Psy!" he sings in English.
Already an established artist in South Korea with six albums under his belt, Psy has been building and polishing his own style of quirky, explosive music and his flamboyant stage persona since his debut in 2001.
"I've been doing this for 12 years. Would it be fair to call me a one-hit wonder just because my next song falls flat?" Psy said Saturday.
Psy, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, graduated from the Berklee College of Music in the United States and made his debut in 2001 with the album "PSY from the Psycho World".
But he ran into trouble with the authorities for "inappropriate" content in the lead song on that album, which was seen as sexually suggestive. He was also charged with possession of marijuana in 2002. Since then he has released five more albums.
Psy's brash style – at a concert last year he parodied Lady Gaga, complete with fake breasts that he set on fire – stands in stark contrast to the squeaky clean singers that dominate K-pop which is finding an increasingly large international audience.