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Psy makes star-studded return with K-pop’s biggest names, including BTS Suga

Psy’s ninth full-length album “Psy 9th” press listening session takes place at the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)
Psy’s ninth full-length album “Psy 9th” press listening session takes place at the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)
Veteran K-pop star Psy, the man behind the 2012 global hit “Gangnam Style,” dropped his ninth full-length album “Psy 9th” on Friday, making a grand come back to the music world after a more than five-year hiatus.

The 44-year-old invited local media to a press listening session on Friday afternoon, giving a glimpse into the album ahead of its release at 6 p.m. that day.

During the event, Psy played the seven music videos that come with the album, sharing details of how each video and song came into shape.

“There are seven music videos, and all the tracks and the videos have been produced over a long period spanning from 2018 until early this year,” Psy explained before playing the videos. According to Psy, three of the seven music videos come in vertical format in line with recent online video trends.

Fronting the album is lead single “That That,” which caused a stir ahead of its release for its contribution from BTS member Suga.

Psy said it was Suga who had reached out first for the collaboration.

“It was around last fall, when Suga was having his own busy days with BTS but also extending on his own project outside the group as producer Min Yoon-gi. While successfully leading a career as a composer, he approached me with a song that he said was perfect for me, and suggested that he wanted to produce it for me.” Psy said.

“Back then, I was concerned about the fact that I should stop making only EDM-based dance songs, but I couldn’t do something slow. What kind of dance song was the question, and I had in mind the Latin-vibe, which was exactly what Suga had brought me,” continued Psy.

Soon enough, the two started working on the song with the track that Suga brought. Suga and Psy collaborated on writing the lyrics, composing and singing, while the BTS member also contributed to the song’s arrangement. The 29-year-old also appears in the song’s music video.

Working with Suga, Psy said he was deeply inspired by the enthusiastic, young artist.

The music video of “That That” plays during a “Psy 9th” press listening session in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)
The music video of “That That” plays during a “Psy 9th” press listening session in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)

“I saw how passionate Suga was in working and thought, ‘I also used to make music like that.’ Without any hesitation and just enjoying it all. But with the passing of time, I’ve come to consider too many elements and became caught up in following too many rules. My experience with Suga allowed me to rid myself of all the weight on me over the long time.”

“Many tracks on the album came out naturally following the project with Suga. Because I’m not a professional composer, I don’t have a frequent source of inspiration and often find it hard to write songs if I don’t get the right push,” Psy said, adding it was his inspirational relationship with the K-pop idol star that was a key turning point as he prepared for the album.

For his ninth LP, dropped at the 22-year mark in his career, the dance star invited an array of some of most aspiring young K-pop artists to embrace ongoing trends while maintaining his own color.

The unofficial second title track of the album, “Celeb” features singer-actress Bae Suzy in the music video. According to Psy, the song is the 2022 version of his 2006 hit “Celebrity.”

“Honestly, the real star of this song is the actress. She practiced strenuously for four days, shot the music video over three days, and now that video is coming out. I’d like to dedicate this honor to her,” he said.

For “Celeb,” Psy teamed up with rapper-producer Zico for the second time following “I Luv It,” with Zico contributing in writing the lyrics and composing.

The founder and CEO of his own label P Nation, Psy teamed up with his artists for some of the tracks, including “Ganzi,” which features the Korean-American rapper Jessi.

Psy noted a special affection for the track “Happier,” a ballad track that will be accompanied by an animated music video, his first since the 2015 song “Father.” R&B singer Crush participated in writing the lyrics, composing and the vocalization.

“It was a song I worked with Crush before he joined our firm,” Psy said. “I came to think that, maybe we’re less happy because we want to become happier. I thought, ‘Would it be right for someone who doesn’t discover happiness today to find it tomorrow?’ And I feel this even more now after going through the COVID-19 period, which made me realize that what we accept as given may not actually be so.”

The album also includes a remake of one of the singer’s most cherished classics, “Now,” by Seoul Family, for which he teamed up with Mamamoo’s Hwasa.

“The 1987 song itself was a remake of a pop song. My parents loved listening to it and I thought I would reinvent the song with a female vocalist later when I become a singer. It seemed perfect as a song for concerts, and I’ve finally completed it with the new album.”

The music video for “Everyday” features a compilation of videos shot during Psy’s previous editions of Summer Swag Concert, taking the listeners on an imaginary ride through the heart-throbbing thumping beats, the spectacular lights and the ear-splitting cheers of the annual concert.

The LP’s first track, “9Intro” also comes with a vertical music video, as the artist shouts lyrics about his attempts to continue striving to make young music even in his forties, and beyond.

The 12-track studio album also includes “You Move Me,” featuring veteran balladeer Sung Si-kyung, “Sleepless” featuring the label’s R&B singer Heize, “Hello Monday,” made with contributions from rapper Giriboy, “forEVER,” partially penned by and featuring Tablo of hip-hop trio Epik High and lastly, “Dear Me,” a song that is a letter Psy wrote for himself.

Since making his official debut as a singer in 2001, Psy’s music and his performances have been loved by listeners for a long time in South Korea. It was with his 2012 single “Gangnam Style” that he suddenly shot to a global stardom, setting new records as a Korean artist on YouTube and the Billboard charts.

Looking back on the decade since the breakout success of “Gangnam Style,” Psy said he hopes to continue playing his part in connecting Korean music with younger generations both in and out of the nation.

Psy’s ninth full-length album “Psy 9th” press listening session takes place at the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)
Psy’s ninth full-length album “Psy 9th” press listening session takes place at the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul in Seoul on April 29. (P Nation)

“The word ‘K-pop’ is the short for Korean music. Although many respectful idol groups have been showing great performances, I’d like to introduce to the foreign fans that there is more to K-pop than just girl group and boy band music,” Psy said, adding he is currently preparing for regular YouTube content related to it.

“Constantly being consumed by those in their 20s, even now, when I’m 45, it feels like I’m not aging. I’m grateful, and I hope that many young fans listen to the new album and think, ‘This guy is still doing this? Still making this stupid song with weird music video and ridiculous dances?’ I’d feel the album is a success if I get those kinds of responses.”

On whether he expects the new song to enter charts in the US, Psy said he personally does not aim for it.

“But Suga worked so hard on it, putting in his unconditional effort, from penning the lyrics to the music video, and I hope that his work gets the proper recognition,” Psy said.

Expressing anticipation at the return of live music festivals as COVID-19 faces a shift in status from pandemic to endemic in Korea, Psy said, “My utmost interest is not the scores, but the summer and winter concerts. My new songs and albums, as before, are all for the sake of updating my concert playlist.”

By Choi Ji-won (