Expectation – not even a year ago, Psy released “Gangnam Style.” An international sensation that brought K-Pop to the masses of the world and currently stands at over a billion and a half YouTube views. It spawned a cultural phenomenon with endless parodies, references, the whole nine yards. Every night I went with my friends to Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s infamous party neighbourhood, I’d hear it at least three times with the entire crowd doing the dance as if it were planned. Walking through Seoul, South Korea, he is thrice as prolific. I saw him in beer ads, adverts in the subway for kimchci refrigerators, and on every music channel. His live shows are a production that would make Lady Gaga jealous. Talk about a tough act to follow.
I’ll hand it to him, his plan to premier the song was pretty cool. A huge concert in Seoul, to be broadcast live on YouTube. I missed it, but I’m sure it was a spectacle. So, now for the song itself: “Gentleman.”
It starts with a beat that’s a bit simpler than “Gangnam Style” – this is much more of a rap song. The video features the silliness that you’ve come to expect, with strange people pelvic thrusting in the background and dancing that might earn funding from the Ministry of Silly Walks. However, while “Gangnam style” offered laughs and social satire for those who speak Korean, “Gentleman” is rather…lowest common denominator. An English translation of the lyrics reveals that he’s going on about being a gentleman, as you might guess form the chorus. The widely appealing laughs from “Gangnam Style” have been switched out for “as seen on TV” fratboy antics. The part where he rubs his fingers on his backside and then places them at a girl’s nose in the library- how droll. The rest of the video contains the kind of production you might expect: plenty of beautiful dancers, lasers, and large settings for them – this part is pretty cool to watch.
The beat is catchy, but the chorus lacks imagination; I imagine this one will lose its appeal rather quickly. The elements that made “Gangnam Style” such a runaway success are for the most part missing. While the video’s production values are something to behold and there are a few laughs, it is nowhere near the benchmark he has set for himself. The simple fact is, I enjoyed this song and video but not as much as “Gangnam Style” and this sentiment will be something that Psy cannot escape. His career could go in two directions from here. He has talent and a unique sense of humour that many people share. He could do many things and make good music – or – he could also spend his entire career trying to duplicate “Gangnam Style.” My hope is that he chooses the former.