PSY: International sensation | Sunday Observer

PSY: International sensation

22 November, 2020

Park Jae-sang, known professionally as Psy (stylised in all caps as PSY), is a South Korean singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Psy is known domestically for his humorous videos and stage performances, and internationally for his hit single Gangnam Style. The song’s refrain was entered into The Yale Book of Quotations as one of the most famous quotations of 2012.

Park Jae-sang was born on December 31, 1977, to an affluent family in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. Park attended Banpo Elementary and Middle Schools and Sehwa High School. He disliked school and was known as the class clown. In an interview on South Korea’s Seoul Broadcasting System, a former teacher of Park said: “I remember Psy making a lot of sexual jokes during class. He had such a big influence that he would drive the entire class to his jokes. I disliked him at the time, but looking back, I see that he added a great energy to the class.”

Park told CNN’s Alina Cho that when he was 15 years old, he watched a Korean TV program that introduced foreign pop music. One particular episode showed a concert at Wembley Stadium by the British rock band, Queen, where they performed their 1975 hit single Bohemian Rhapsody. Park said it was this concert footage that sparked his love for music.

PSY in USA

As part of the preparations to take over DI Corporation from his father, Park had originally planned to study business administration at Boston University in 1996. However, upon his arrival in the United States, he lost interest in his studies, spending his remaining tuition funds on musical instruments and entertainment equipment, including a computer, an electric keyboard, and a MIDI interface. After attending an English-language summer course and studying for one semester, Park dropped out of Boston University and applied to study at Berkeley College of Music instead. During his time at Berkeley, Park took core curriculum lessons in ear training, contemporary writing and music synthesis, but he soon dropped out and returned to South Korea to pursue a career as a singer, without having attained a degree from either Boston University or Berkeley.

In South Korea, Psy made his first appearance on Korean national television in 2000 after his dancing caught the eye of a TV producer.

Debut

In January 2001, Psy debuted his full-length album Psy from the Psycho World!, for which he was fined by South Korean government authorities due to his album’s “inappropriate content”. Psy was a rookie hip hop singer who stirred up the Korean pop music scene with very blunt lyrics, peculiar dance moves and an unconventional appearance that earned him the nickname ‘The Bizarre Singer’.

His second album Sa 2 also created controversy upon its release in 2002, earning complaints from civil groups due to the potentially negative influence his album would have on children and teenagers. Since then, Psy has been thought of as a controversial artist, and Sa 2 was banned in 2002 from being sold to the under-19 set. In September of the same year, Psy released his third album 3 Psy. The album’s title song, Champion, saw great success partly due to the hype from the World Cup games held in Seoul. Despite the significant amount of controversy surrounding his music, Psy was awarded song writing accolades at the annual Seoul Music Awards, marking his breakthrough in the South Korean music industry.

Gangnam Style

In July 2012, Psy released his sixth album Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1 and the song Gangnam Style appeared in broadcasting networks and newspapers outside Asia. On August 14, Gangnam Style ranked first on YouTube’s ‘Most Viewed Videos’ monthly chart; on August 21, 2012, Gangnam Style officially charted No. 1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, overtaking Justin Bieber’s As Long as You Love Me and Katy Perry’s Wide Awake; this feat was the first for a South Korean artist. After the video went viral, celebrities quickly jumped on board, with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise taking to Twitter to share their delight. The Gangnam Style phenomenon has also popularized his older music videos, such as Right Now. On September 14, 2012, he appeared on The Today Show on NBC in New York City, performing the song live and teaching dance moves to the anchors.[The following day, he also made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live during a skit featuring Gangnam Style. Commenting on his popularity among foreign celebrities, Psy said:

When I realised that some top stars like have imagined or tweeted about me, I thought, “That’s joking. That’s not gonna happen” ... I never expect things like this, not because they are top stars, but because this is the biggest market in the universe for pop music, right, so everybody’s dreaming about having appearance in the U.S. so I’m still saying, “What going on here? This is beautiful.”

Riding high on the success of Gangnam Style, Psy was signed by Scooter Braun to Braun’s Schoolboy Records, a label distributed by Republic Records. In early September, the Gangnam district awarded Psy with a plaque and named him an honorary ambassador. On October 24, 2012, Psy was recognized by the United Nations as an ‘International sensation’. According to Reuters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon scheduled a meeting with Psy in the belief that music has great power to overcome intolerance. According to Korean newspaper The Dong-a Ilbo, Psy was appointed as a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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