PSY brings ‘Gangnam Style’ to Harvard

South Korean singer PSY speaks at Harvard University's Memorial Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 9, 2013. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
South Korean singer PSY speaks at Harvard University’s Memorial Church in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

South Korean rapper PSY said he “partied hard” when his dance number drew its first 10 million views on YouTube last summer. Little did he know “Gangnam Style” would become the most-viewed video in the online service’s history, with a global following and nearly 1.6 billion views as of Thursday.

“I partied hard to celebrate 10 million views!” PSY told about 1,000 people at Harvard University on Thursday evening, as he recalled his reaction when the song took off, making him a cultural phenomenon and leading to meetings with Los Angeles record producers.

“This is so unrealistic!” he recalled thinking.

Formally dressed and speaking in sometimes-halting English, PSY spoke for more than an hour and occasionally lapsed into signature dance moves such as grasping the reins of an imaginary trotting horse.

PSY’s talk was partly a homecoming as he recalled his days as a student in Boston in the mid-1990s. But it was also a seminar about the star’s surprise worldwide cultural appeal and the economic influence of East Asian culture.

Harvard professor Alexander Zahlten introduced PSY, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, as a global figure who has shown the ability of Korean music stars, video-game programmers and other entertainment figures to find overseas popularity through Internet channels.

“He’s a global citizen, and in turn influences people all over the world,” Zahlten said. “He’s deeply connected to digital culture.”

After “Gangnam Style” set records, the video for PSY’s follow-up song “Gentleman” received more than 20 million hits in the first 24 hours after its release last month, easily beating the previous record of 8 million views for Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” in the first 24 hours.

PSY, 35, told the audience at the Ivy League school that music trumps national divides. “Music makes everyone united,” he said, “something beyond language.” At some performances, he said, “I’m so proud. The crowd doesn’t know what the lyrics are about, but they look so happy!”

Later he said the word for “style” conveyed similar meanings in all languages, and that he wrote the lyrics for “Gentleman” hoping they would find a similar worldwide resonance. “Really , it was linguistics,” he said.

PSY also poked fun at his own less-than-stellar academic record. He said his nickname in college was “WWF” for his grades, “withdraw, withdraw, fail.” He said he kept thinking big and poked fun at his robust midsection.

“I dreamed someday, some Korean artist would be well-known in the U.S.,” he said. “I dreamed about it but didn’t dream that was me, because as you see I have a very special body type.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NBA

Knicks wrap up season with win over Raptors

The Knicks wrapped up their season as it began — undermanned — but that still didn’t deter them from ending it the right way.

MLB

Adam Warren closes out doubleheader sweep for Yankees

Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.