Korean singer Psy has hit a jackpot with his new song "Gangnam Style" which he wrote himself earlier this year. Nobody ever expected "Gangnam Style" would become such an incredible hit internationally. It has come to the point where more international viewers are tuning into Psy's official YouTube channel to view the music video for "Gangnam Style" than Korean viewers.
Psy's production company stated, "When we first heard 'Gangnam Style' we thought it would be a hit but we would have never expected the song would make headlines, not to mention the unbelievable response from overseas. We're very amazed and happy."
The same reporter had interviewed Psy back in 2004 exactly three months after he released his very first album. Psy was 24 years old back then. When Psy was asked to explain his secret behind his popularity, he answered, "Usually, people say 'luck' but I think the most important part is the perfect mixture of talent and luck. And if you have the eye to recognize what the next trend would be, it would be a big help."
Even though Psy stated that he never expected "Gangnam Style" to become such a big hit, his ability to communicate with the world through his music is a clear sign of his superhuman ability. Psy appears to be gifted with a talent of communication and sympathy.
Psy's Style of Communication, "Grade B Sentiments"
Let's take a peek at Psy's communication style. It has previously been described as "Grade B Sentiments." However, Psy's sense of style needs to be given a lot more credit than "Grade B", aka cheap. The phrase "Grade B" is a completely different concept from satires. Satires that are commonly seen on comedy shows are all about using a single way to express a message about a topic. Psy's "Grade B Sentiments" provide satisfaction as well as material that people can relate to. The special thing about Psy is that he makes himself appear as though he's in the same situation as the people listening to his music (Although that is definitely not the case).
In all honesty, Psy's "Grade B Sentiments" has the power to unite the minority of the population who strongly disapproves the society. Movies that are referred to as "Grade B" are also projects created by those who rejects the order of the society and fights for individuality and unique creativity.
For example, when comedian Jung Hyungdon was going through a slump, he would say, "You're right, I can't make people laugh. What are you going to do about it" and began to joke about it. From his words and acknowledgement of his situation, a significant number of the minority sympathized with him.
These days, the "Grade B Sentiments" are higher in demand. Everybody is trying to make a living in the unbearable heat. As if getting shot down by people with more money and power isn't enough, the majority of the population is also getting dragged down by the heat. Most people consider themselves to be "Grade B" so when somebody stands up and expresses themselves loud and clear, they feel satisfied, realizing they are not alone.
Sympathy is the main reason comedian-singers were able to become so popular in Korea. About 80~90% of their songs are hilarious jokes and 10% of the song have a deeper message. Some of their lyrics include lines like, "Wait and get ready. You get your six-pack ready for your girlfriend. Your six-pack won't do a thing if your face is a grenade. You stay up all night to write a hand written letter. You should just put a gift card instead."
In "Gangnam Style" Psy sings, "I'm a man. I seem calm and collected but I know how to play when it's time to play. I'm a man that knows how to go crazy when it's time. My thoughts are bumpier than my muscles. I'm that kind of a man."
Psy's Attempt at the Pre-existing Culture; Take-Over with his Lower-Class Material
When Psy first debuted, he criticized the idol groups for lip-syncing during their performances with lines like, "If you're going to play the records, at least sing along correctly. If you're going to lie, you might as well wet your lips." Psy is definitely a singer who is not afraid to express his thoughts in his songs. In his song "Right Now" from his 5th album, Psy sings "Oh, such offensive music, what is this? Take out the mechanic sounds" and expressed his negativity on autotune.
Psy seems to have lowered his standards a bit. However, the success behind any type of music is expressing yourself through your songs as well as creating something the fans can relate to. Psy for example, has a complete understanding of what people are feelings. He, himself, revealed his support for the "lower-class" living. Psy stated, "Koreans, including myself, are third-class. First class people are same inside and out. They don't exclude others based on education or status. Third-class is just who I am" and expressed his confidence as a "Grade B" TV personnel. Psy provides catharsis to his fans, who love him for his honesty.
Psy's ability to deliver his message to people is a special gift however. Although Psy's appearance is nothing that would be described as "Gangnam Style" and doesn't have a six-pack, he is very consistent and possesses a unique characteristic that captures the hearts of his fans.
Although Psy looks just like a normal 30-something-year-old Korean male, he is actually a son of a very wealthy family. He even attended Berklee Music School and is very intelligent in person. Although the songs he writes expresses everything in a cheap type of humor, he is nothing but limited to the "Grade B" style of music. Psy wrote Lee Seung Gi's "You're My Woman" and Seo In Young's "Cinderella."
You also shouldn't be fooled by his body because Psy is full of energy and power from the beginning until the end of his concerts. Psy is named as one of the best live performers because of his ability to create an unforgettable concert experience where you won't even have a chance to sit down.
The New International Outlook on K-Pop
Psy's full dedication to delivering music that people can relate to has travelled to overseas and reached out to foreigners. Although people mentioned that "Gangnam Style" seemed a bit too crazy and cheap compared to his previous albums, his music hasn't changed much in reality. "Gangnam Style" consists of powerful beats with an addicting melody that goes perfectly with the straight forward lyrics and creates an energetic club feel.
The music video of "Gangnam Style" shows off the horse riding dance that used to be popular back in the 80's. The horse riding dance caught the eyes of foreigners as fun and fresh, which is one of the main reasons behind the success of "Gangnam Style."
Psy embraces every aspect of the Korean culture and tries to incorporate anything and everything that would emphasize his style. In the music video of "Gangnam Style," 4minute's HyunA makes a special appearance as well as famous comedian Yoo Jae Suk and Noh Hong Cheul.
Psy's music is reaching out to people in a different way than the way idol groups have been. So far, K-Pop has been gaining recognition for the young and hip idol groups with perfect bodies and faces. The acceptance of Psy's unique style of music has created a new outlook foreigners have on K-Pop. A new perspective of K-Pop seems to have reached overseas since it is after all, a world that favors the underdogs.