Several years ago, when Psy made waves with his hit “Gangnam Style,” most listeners didn’t realize it was a breakthrough moment for K-pop. Now, returning with his collab with Suga of BTS, “That That,” and a new album, Psy 9th, the Korean star is discussing the way he was received versus the way artists like BTS and Blackpink are able to attain critical and commercial success now.
“It was so exhausting at the time of its success [because] the song got popular so it wasn’t a ‘healthy hit,’” he said, according to translations into English by @modooborahae. “There were even people who thought my name was ‘Gangnam Style.’ Some people overseas who would say ‘Hi, Gangnam Style.’ There are cases where the song increases in popularity and cases when the [artist] increases in popularity, and longevity is that much longer in the latter.”
In Psy’s view, the reception for BTS and Blackpink is the “opposite” of his own viral status because of their “permanence and persistence.” And BTS going to the No. 1 spot with “Dynamite” in 2020 was also a huge deal, because as big as it was on Youtube, “Gangnam Style” still only ever went to No. 2. That speaks to another thing that separates Korean stars from their American and English counterparts, and that’s the language barrier. “Even for the famous BTS and Blackpink, the wall of American radio is very high because the songs are in a foreign language,” he said. “Our biggest weapon is YouTube.”
Finally, he praised both bands for making their country proud, and for acknowledging his influence on them: “If they continue like this, though they’re not doing music for the sake of raising national prestige, I think they’re giving [Korea] a lot of proud moments. I feel very proud that I had a role in being that trigger. BTS have thanked me for that part several times, so I’m proud of it.”