It has taken nine months of studio angst from a novelty pop perfectionist. But the world finally got to hear the hotly anticipated follow-up to “Gangnam Style”, the global sensation created by South Korean rapper Psy.
The pressure of surpassing the “lassoing horse” dance, which has been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube, has weighed heavily on the portly performer.
Initially, Psy, 35, broke cover to announce that his next single would be called “Assarabia” – slang for “Oh Yeah!” in Korean. But this was abandoned amid fears that the title might offend Arab listeners.
Last month Psy appeared close to meltdown when he tweeted a photo of himself in a recording studio, face buried in his hands, captioned: “pain of creation”. His manager, Hwang Kyu-hwan, admitted that Psy was “under pressure” to produce a song, which would once again capture the world’s imagination while delivering a new, easy-to-imitate dance move.
Now the wraps are finally off the new song, called “Gentleman”. “I’ve been working and reworking on it continuously and I think the latest version will be the final one,” the singer said hours before its first airing. Psy worked two days without sleep to get the video finished in time.
“Gentleman”, it turns out, is no radical departure. Described as “rousing” by his management company YG Entertainment, it employs “a fast tempo with the same kind of beat as ‘Gangnam Style’.”
A trailer posted on Psy’s Twitter links to a thudding beat with a repeated lyric of “I’m a mother, father, gentleman”. Or “mother f***er” depending on the interpretation of Psy’s accent.
“All Koreans know this dance but [those in] other countries haven’t seen it,” said Psy ahead of the midnight South Korean-time YouTube premiere of the video. A clip suggested a rump-shaking manoeuvre is crucial to the performance.
Despite his clownish persona, Psy, who has earned £10m from “Gangnam Style”, intended that song as a satire on the ostentatiously wealthy young Koreans who live in the Gangnam neighbourhood.
The star will demonstrate the new dance moves when he performs for 50,000 people at Seoul’s Sangam stadium in a concert on Saturday, streamed live over the internet.
The build-up to “Gentleman” has distracted Koreans from the sabre-rattling by Kim Jong-un across the border. Now a nation’s pride depends upon its musical figurehead persuading the world that “Gentleman” isn’t a novelty single too far.
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