Is Psy suffering a Hangover?

Hangover – the title, the themes, the video – is a bit of a departure from Psy’s recent video hits. This track, like a cheap  bottle of rice spirit, is a little hard to get to the bottom of. As with his previous international successes, you can’t judge the book by its cover, yet it’s hard to tell exactly how far we should read.

The obvious and key difference here is that the song is a collaboration with Snoop Dogg (or Lion, or Zilla, or whatever) and as a result is a step in a different musical direction. It eschews the bright hooks, big choruses and pounding Dance beat, adopting a more abstract, Rap vibe. The film clip reflects this change, and while incorporating Psy’s recent big production style, and fun scenes filled with ladies and dancing, it has a greyer palette and makes use of jarring repetition to fit the ‘Hangover’ hook. Vocals are an integral part of the track, adding texture to the, at times, sparse backing instrumentation, with a lot of pitch-shifting and auto-tune going on. And of course there’s plenty of rap on offer, not just from Psy and Snoop Dogg, but also from the surprise karaoke appearance of fellow Korean superstar G-Dragon.

The main interest I have with the track, not being an expert on K-Pop or Rap, is what Psy is saying. I have thoroughly enjoyed the silly antics and vaguely concealed social commentary in his mainstream success. However this one, especially with Snoop thrown in the mix, poses more difficulty in deciphering how serious it is. It could easily, and most likely, be a comment on both Korean and/or music star drinking habits. It could also be a sad admission of his own part in all that. It does definitely seem more geared at the Western market though (Check out this Korea Herald article). Or, and I’d love to believe this was true, a jab at the unwitting Snoop Dogg.

Whatever it may be about, and while it is cleverly crafted track, its missing some of the more pop Dance elements, and catchy dance moves, that drove his previous smashes. The fact is, thanks to the strength of those recent hits, it will still get a lot of listens. Another point is that he didn’t always make music like Gangnam Style, I think this is either him trying to break the mould again or him setting sights on the Western market. I have a feeling the prophesised track Daddy will give us a clearer view when it hits soon.

Any thoughts?

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