Sidekick or Star? A look at PSY’s New Release, ‘Hangover’

PSY "Hangover"

Well, it’s here. The comeback that everyone who has never heard of Kpop has been waiting for is finally here, and it stumbled out of bed like a bad hangover. That’s right, PSY is back, having released “Hangover” with some help from his friend, Snoop Dogg, on Jimmy Kimmel Live. But it’s out there for the world to see now, so give it a watch. What do you think?

We have to say, this is a pretty good Snoop Dogg song. PSY ends up playing sidekick in his own video, with barely a word from him except an auto-tuned “Hangover, Hangover, Hangover, Hangover," etc. Jimmy Kimmel may have gotten it right when he introduced the pair as “Snoop Dogg and PSY.” To be fair, “Hangover” seems more like a teaser to PSY’s upcoming summer release for “Daddy.” But to be even more fair, it wasn’t advertised as such. It was advertised as the next big thing from “the first artist ever to get two billion hits on YouTube.”

PSY "Hangover"

The video itself seems mostly haphazard, like an SNL or improv sketch gone wrong. There isn’t an iconic dance move like we’ve become familiar with, and maybe we’ve been spoiled. In “Hangover,” PSY flails on a toilet, in a pool of green water, in a pool hall. He hardly opens his mouth, and when he does, it is usually to mimic Snoop Dogg who is doing the actual singing. There is an unfortunate suggestion of PSY as the silent and laughable Asian sidekick. But there is also some good humor from seeing two middle-aged ladies become transformed, through the miracle of alcohol, into young beauties. And G-Dragon and CL! Always nice to see, though we would have liked them to have an actual role.

There’s one thing that’s clear, this video eschews any ounce of social commentary that made PSY so unique as an artist. What was lost in translation for “Gangnam Style” was the satirical nudge at a superficial culture. Of course, most audiences in America wouldn’t care or do the research to understand that. When he released “Gentleman,” PSY took the role of jester, a trickster without a cause. In “Hangover,” there isn’t even the illusion of subtext. The mania of his videos is the only thing that remains.

PSY "Gangnam Style"

The song itself is catchy, and certainly fun. But will it be a hit in America? The saxophone sound that gets distorted holds the song together, but it’s difficult to hear the repetition of “hangover” as a true refrain. What’s more, the auto-tune and incessant looping make the song difficult to sing. The verses aren’t much better off, as few of us can pretend to sing like Snoop. But the most difficult thing that “Hangover” has to overcome is the lack of any proper dance move. For good or bad, PSY made a name for himself in America with a dance move. If the music of “Hangover” can’t find a place in the club and on the dance floor, it might not take off.

It would be easy to argue that Snoop Dogg is not be the best ambassador for PSY. The perennial rap favorite can be forgiven for referring to “Hangover” as a martial arts video (there is, after all, fighting in the background), but his karaoke impersonation of PSY on Jimmy Kimmel Live didn’t sit well with us. There’s nothing particularly funny about making “Asian noises.” However, Snoop Dogg was never part of the team to be politically correct or to placate Asian Americans. He’s there for the rest of the Americans, the people who are unaccustomed to seeing an Asian male as the lead in anything. Snoop Dogg is preparing America for just that, a time when PSY can stand on his own stage. He softens whatever sharpness PSY brings as an Asian male. Let’s just hope that PSY can retain some of the sharpness that used to define him as an artist.

So what do you think? Is PSY’s (Snoop Dogg’s) “Hangover” destined for two billion hits? Sound off in the comments!


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