[Korean Safari] The global success of Psy‘s “Gangnam Style” music video was both boon and bane to the 42-year-old singer, born Park Jae-sang.
With the strong support of K-pop stronghold YG Entertainment, Psy was able to reach an unprecedented audience for Korean music.
The video rapidly went viral, going on to reach over 2.5 billion views on YouTube. With an additional push from American manager Scooter Braun, Psy appeared on U.S. pop cultural mainstays the MTV Video Music Awards, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show“ and NBC’s “Today.”
However, on the darker side of the moon was the fact that Psy had to decide how he would channel this newfound success, whether he would try to continue his global momentum, perhaps with an English-language album -- Psy speaks English, thanks to his time at the Berklee School of Music -- or whether he would continue with his music unaffected by “Gangnam Style.” It became a nagging question particularly after the comparatively modest successes of follow-up tracks “Gentleman” and “Hangover.”
The decision was not an easy, or quick, one to make.“It’s been two years and eight months -- ‘Hangover’ was not released in Korea, so -- since ‘Gentleman,’ and three years, five months since my sixth album,” Psy told reporters at a press conference held Nov. 30 for the release of his long-awaited seventh album “Chil-jip Psy-da.”
“There was pressure, and stress. As I was writing, I kept thinking that it wouldn‘t be as good as ’Gangnam,‘ or that listeners overseas would not be able to understand the song. With every line and verse, I had voices fighting in my head. It took a while to sort all that out.”
Psy said he wanted to escape the influence of “Gangnam Style” in his new music, which was why he took such a long break, and skipped straight to his seventh studio-length album despite the album “Gangnam Style” having been titled “Part 1.”
With his seventh album, Psy came out with two lead tracks ? “Daddy,” a fast dance track with a catchy hook featuring the voice of fellow YG idol star CL of 2NE1, and “NapalBaji,” a retro disco dance song. As soon as the album came out, both songs hit the top of charts in Korea, with the American-pop-influenced “Daddy” remaining in the top slot a bit longer than “NapalBaji.” The music video for “Daddy” has already surpassed 100 million views on YouTube.
“I wanted to air out the traces of the ‘Gangnam Style’ album. ... I wanted to do something different,” he said. For Korean listeners, this was a natural change; Psy acknowledged that many Korean listeners had described his music as having become “too foreign” and wanted him to return to his older style.