No. 2 on the Billboards, but number one in our hearts.
Last Thursday Psy gave a free outdoor concert in Seoul to celebrate the release of the Billboard rankings. If you haven’t heard of Psy, I don’t know where you’ve been. Though a 12-year veteran artist in Korea, he has recently exploded into the global music scene with his new single Gangnam Style. Since the single was released mid-July, I saw it a few times before heading over to Korea. However, since I got here it’s been interesting to hear about it dominating the music scene in America. It broke a world record for “most liked” YouTube video, and is currently enjoying it’s second week in the No. 2 position on the billboard charts.
When I first saw the video, I wasn’t super impressed. It seemed like a K-Pop version of LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It, which is not a hard song to top. After a few listens I quickly became sick of it, and yet now for some reason I’m starting to like it again. Maybe that’s partially due to realizing that it has slightly more depth than expected. But regardless of what I think, Korea freakin’ loves this song, the video, and Psy himself. I hear it everywhere I go (probably why I was sick of it), from taxis and buses to dance clubs and pretty much every store blasting music outside. Akin to being Rick Roll’d, you never know where to expect it. My favorite time was my second time out swing dancing, when the DJ played Gangnam Style, and at least 30 people (mostly guys) did the entire routine. They also did it very very well.
This brings me to the Thursday night Psy concert. The Billboard’s Top 100 released their rankings, and Psy, hoping to celebrate a move from the No. 2 to the No. 1 position, wanted to give something back to Korea. In the article above he says “I can be 1st or I could drop down. But the reason I’m here in Korea at such an important time is because I want to thank my fans.” He even promised to perform shirtless if he reached No. 1.
While he didn’t quite edge out Maroon 5’s One More Night, he still whipped off his shirt for an amazing performance of Gangnam Style complete with pyrotechnics. The whole concert was pretty good, and even though I couldn’t understand anything he said, it was clear that he had a lot of respect for Seoul, and Seoul had a lot of respect for him. They literally came out in droves to show their support. An estimated crowd of 50,000 turned into 80,000-100,000. You get a glimpse of it from this video of Gangnam Style that night, and there are still so many people beyond the camera, without even a visual line to the stage. I’ve never seen crowds like that before (and I never would…. until going to fireworks on Saturday night where it was possibly bigger). After that week I think I’m done with Seoul-sized crowds for a while.
Listening to the rest of Psy’s set, I was really surprised by his range of music. Gangnam Style does not seem very representative of the rest of his music. You’ll have to do some YouTube searches to see for yourself, and let me know what you think.