Park Jae Sang, PSY 6 Rules – Part 1, PSY, YG Entertainment, 2012, EP.
PSY –6 Rules Review
Let’s be real here – I just want to talk about “Gangnam Style,” even if the review is a month or two late to the party. And soon!! You will get some delicious Gangnam goodness if you keep reading, because I wanted to take a unique angle to reviewing it.
A little history first – this is PSY’s sixth studio album and a little bit of a return for him as well. He stayed away from the Korean rap game for a few years, but he decided to take a step back in with 6 Rules (formally titled: PSY 6甲) and he came back in a big, big way. If you haven’t heard about the viral-sensation single, “Gangnam Style,” you better go ask somebody. The music video is incredible, and PSY went from a run-of-the-mill k-pop rapper to an international superstar.
“It’s a gangnam style world – we are all just living in it.” –Josh Groban
Gangnam is a South Korean suburb near Seoul known for “ostentatious culture,” analogous perhaps to Beverly Hills in California. Lost in the Gangnam madness was the rest of his album, which I admittedly dreaded listening to for fear of ruining the Gangnam craze. I took the time to give it a whirl, and I was still decently impressed! The first song, “Never Say Goodbye” was a little odd – it came off quite amateurish and not at all close to what I was expecting. If PSY is trying to portray himself as a rapper (even a tongue-in-cheek one) then the first track on the album gives a new listener the wrong idea. However, this might be his own personal way of coming back in the game from his hiatus, so I took it with a grain of salt. You could almost sense the Queen ambition with the sappy piano intro and the ballad style vocals, until the guitar kicks in and he raps over what sounds like a sample track in Garageband. Still, it held up ok.
The second track had a significantly better groove to it. Named “What Would Have Been? (어땠을까?),” the beat reminds me of some old 90s beats and creamy synth stabs, with the guest artist, Park Jung Hyun, crooning over the chorus. Clearly, PSY listened to Biggie. Year of 77 (77학개론), featuring LeeSSang and Kim Jin Pyo still has the same influences and aims to be a more memorable song in the minds of listeners with the chorus chanting “Do you remember?” over and over again…needless to say, I did it a couple of times listening in my headphones. Other than that, the album is surprisingly solid, and it would be a fair submission by any other name.
But let’s not kid ourselves. You’re reading this because of Gangnam Style, so I shouldn’t disappoint. So much has already been written about the song that if I even try to explain anything about the song (or the accompanying astonishing music video) I’ll be citing sources for the next month to avoid getting fired for plagiarism (just go here).
How am I going to approach this song? Animated gifs. HOLY CRAP. This video was seemingly crafted solely for the purpose of surviving the animated gif. There are so many. So, so many.
If you had asked PSY about this very sensation before the video was finished, I think he would’ve actually told you that he planned this. I MEAN LOOK AT THIS:
I haven’t read through all of the lyrics but I’ve learned enough that the purpose of this song is for PSY to tell all the ladies that he wants a lady with Gangnam Style. Using our earlier example, this would be someone rich, classy, yet filled to the brim with Korean swag, and that he’s still looking all over for one, so then how does this guy abusing the air above PSY in an elevator fit into the story of the video:
Maybe he specifically calls to “potentially DEFINITELY crazy person wearing a bathing suit in an elevator that is being awkward with the air above my back while wearing a cowboy hat” somewhere in the lyrics, but I didn’t double check. And typically I would, but I feel like that would ruin the mystery for me. I make sacrifices so you don’t have to.
When and where did he come up with the idea for these dance moves? In all seriousness (LOL at the idea of seriousness in this video) there is one part where his outfit combines with his dance moves in such a way that it gives the viewer the notion that he was watching Thriller when the idea was divined into his brain:
PSY had been quoted in interviews about the video that he took this song to be tongue in cheek anyway, so it’s not surprising that the hilarity of this video is inversely proportional to the seriousness of the material in the video, be it the dance moves, plot (again, LOL) or the video in general. For example:
This does, however, lead me to believe that PSY isn’t taking his comeback very seriously. I, like everyone else on the planet outside of Korea, knew nothing about his musical demeanor before Gangnam Style. A friend suggested that the yearly calendar should start over to declare this year 1 BGS, literally “Before Gangnam Style.” His previous music is difficult to come across on the internet. The only conclusion is that, in American culture, he is destined to share a place in our hearts with William Hung, but with way more natural talent. He may go on to enjoy a seemingly continued successful career in k-pop, but his appearance at the VMAs in Los Angeles weeks ago prove that he has crossed over the ocean to become kind of a big deal over here. Here was his reaction to his viral success (or the girl he’s staring at – possibly interchangeable reactions):
I’ve never been to Korea but I am definitely aware of the cultural differences between East and West – maybe only so far as knowing that there IS a difference. Thus, some of my remarks may come across a little ignorant. To that, I say:
He’s probably saying something to the effect of “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT MY RIDICULOUS VIDEOS LOOK AT ME I’M RAPPING ON A TOILET.” Perhaps all too poignant. Can’t blame him though, because he did what he came here to do – captivate us with a truly awesome music video.
The rest of his album was decent but hasn’t generated the global firestorm of attention of Gangam Style.
– David Okun,