Psy’s New Single Has Leaked, Let’s Form an Opinion
I have made no secret of the fact that I am rooting for Psy, against my better judgement. Of course, pop stars cannot live on record-breaking billion-plus YouTube hits alone, and the “Gangnam Style” backlash has come and gone with nary a note of new material from Oppa. The wait for a new single has been long and not entirely encouraging, but today, at last, Psy has descended from viral Valhalla and given us “Gentleman.” Take a moment to listen to it, then let’s chat.
Back? OK, here’s at least one bankable prediction: Thanks to Billboard‘s recent YouTubening, “Gentleman” will jump to the top of the Hot 100 within a couple of weeks. But will it have the same kind of cultural clout as “Gangnam”? Before we answer that question with a cynical knee-jerk “No,” let’s think about this for a second — “Gentleman” taps into the same fancy-but-trashy vibe as Psy’s breakout song without the geographical specificity, which still feels novel compared to every other current mainstream hit other than Psy’s breakout song. Frat boys are going to love dancing to “Gentleman” while self-consciously behaving like the opposite of its namesake. “Gentleman” sounds like an even split between “Gangnam Style,” “Harlem Shake,” and fellow YG artist G-Dragon’s “Crayon,” which means I already have it stuck in my head within an hour of hearing it for the first time. All of these things bode very well for the song.
Of course it won’t be “Gangnam Style.” Nothing could be. But our expectations have been wildly skewed, and the narrative about the new single has largely been about what American artists Psy could collaborate with to bolster his relevancy, or whether or not he’s going to sing in English. Absent from the speculation has been the possibility that “Gangnam Style” introduced the world to a unique, fun, non-American pop superstar, and now that he has our attention, he would continue to be just that.