Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oppan Gangnam Style

By Cho Jae-hyon

Psy has his own style. As his name implies, which he says comes from the word psycho, the singer-songwriter is anything but typical.

With a career of more than a decade, the 36-year-old hip-hop singer has an element that separates him from other K-pop singers: fun. The seasoned musician pokes fun at the norms of society with sarcastic lyrics and humorous dance moves.

For many K-pop fans overseas, Psy was nobody until mid-July when he released the stunning “Gangnam Style” music video and dance track. Although he has built up a solid fan base at home, he had been relatively unknown overseas.

He is different from young, cute K-pop idols. He is neither strikingly good-looking nor does he have chiseled muscles appealing to young females.

However, “Gangnam Style” has catapulted him to international fame overnight. He has hit the jackpot with the title song of his sixth album which has gone viral internationally.

It became popular overseas after some renowned musicians and celebrities mentioned the song on Twitter and blogs, triggering a rush of hits on YouTube and resulting in greater exposure via some international media.

The hilarious video blows away the solemnity weighing on Korean society, with the horse-riding dance move and the rap on “Oppan Gangnam Style” making viewers giggle.

Although he projects a playful image, Psy’s approach toward music is meticulous. What makes this song and dance remarkable is its originality.

Psy has experienced ups and downs over the last 12 years. He was convicted of smoking marijuana in the early 2000s. He had the biggest crisis in his music career in 2007 when he was accused of having not properly fulfilled his alternative military service.

In Korea, a man could work for a designated tech start-up company for about three years as an alternative military service. Between January 2003 and November 2005, Psy worked at a software company. 

But an MBC TV investigative journal reported that he did not fulfill the alternative military duty by habitually failing to report for work at the company.

Following several months of investigation by the prosecution, Psy was ordered by the conscription authorities to serve the full two-year national service again in July 2007. He filed an administrative lawsuit against the decision but lost in the first trial.

Amid worsening public sentiment, he decided to do his military service again. When he joined the Army, he, at the age of 30, had to leave behind his wife and twin baby daughters and completed his duty in July 2009. 

Since then, he has actively engaged in performing live, steadily rebuilding a fan base. He became completely free from the specter of military obligation that haunted him for years.

A typical clubber who is on the floor late into the night, Psy has a passion for dancing and playing, which is what made him what he is today. As in the song’s lyrics, he is the type who plays when it’s time to play. 

Psy says he would make the same choice about joining the military if he had to choose again. After serving, he started regaining popularity. With the success of “Gangnam Style,” he is now in his heyday.

This sudden limelight is encouraging. In a series of recent interviews with the press, Psy has said he doesn’t know why the song is drawing such interest overseas. 

His popularity underscores the fact that the potential of “hallyu,” or the Korean cultural wave, is greater than we thought. It needs to be a lot more diverse than it is now.

Psy’s popularity overseas was unexpected but it’s not surprising either. He has gone though all the hardships and emerged as a seasoned singer. Behind his comical dance and rap are his striving and passion for music in his own style. The popularity he is enjoying is the result of effort.

Not only handsome or cute K-pop boy bands or girl groups but chubby guys like Psy should take center stage to broaden and sustain the Korean wave.

Although he was born and raised in Gangnam, the affluent district in southern Seoul, Psy has an image that is opposite to the generally-known “Gangnam style,” which usually refers to luxurious, sophisticated, yuppie trends.

While Psy is not your typical K-pop star, he is now emerging as one of the most popular hallyu stars and it’s the singer’s own style that is driving his popularity.


Serena Allysha said...

Hahahahahaha! Everyday sy tgk video clip dia d HP Dale. Funny ni..!

Steffiana J said...

Muka dia bah tu priceless lg expression dia. hahahaha

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