High Expectations

‘Gentleman’: Is ‘Psy’s ‘Gangnam’ Follow-Up Any Good?

‘Gentleman’ sounds almost exactly like ‘Gangnam Style.’ Will it also take over the world?

04.11.13 10:01 PM ET

Because Kim Jong-un said if he heard “Gangnam Styleone more time he was going to press launch (unconfirmed), Psy has released his long-awaited (loose definition) follow-up, “Gentleman,” a day early. Audio of the new track was posted on YouTube Thursday afternoon.

How does it sound? A little bit like “Safety Dance” by Men in Hats, kind of like an LMFAO club track, exactly like “Gangnam Style,” and a lot like noise. The lyrics are, like “Gangnam Style,” a mix of Korean and English and made-up English (as Vulture queries, “What is a ‘mother-father-gentleman’?”) There is bass pumping and beats dropping and lyrics repeating in a way that they will get stuck in your head so easily that you’ll curse Psy on a daily basis. If you liked that “Gangnam Style” song, you will like this “Gentleman” song, because it is, basically, the same song.

And if you have yet to tweak your hip from doing the “Gangnam Style” dance six times a night at every single bar you went to this summer, you may also be excited for the dance that Psy promises will accompany the song. “I can’t tell you about the dance but all Koreans know this dance—but (those in) other countries haven’t seen it,” he told Reuters. You know you are just itching to see it and learn it and dance it until your toes blister, so be sure to tune in to the live stream Saturday of Psy performing “Gentleman” live for the first time at a concert for more than 50,000 people Saturday at Seoul’s Sangam stadium. The animated video clip accompanying the leak of “Gentleman” hints that some saucy booty shaking will be involved.

There was a lot of pressure on Psy to produce a worthy follow-up to “Gangnam Style.” The song’s video has been viewed more than 1.5 billion times and shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Barack Obama, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Hugh Jackman all bore witness to the 35-year-old South Korean pop star riding the pony in performance.

With all that expectation, Psy even seemed on the verge of a meltdown while in the studio recording “Gentleman,” tweeting a photo of himself with his head in his hands and the caption “pain of creation.” Hours before the song’s release, Psy said, “I’ve been working and reworking on it continuously and I think the latest version will be the final one.”

But does he have another “Gangnam-Style”–size hit on his hands?

Samantha Martin at Popdust says it’s “über-catchy” and admits to have listened to it “at least six times since it was released an hour ago.”

“The song is actually much less irritating than it’s predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not irritating at all,” says Jessica Sager at PopCrush. “Because it is irritating, for a few reasons: The subject matter is about puddle deep, the song itself and Psy himself are a bit contrived, and you thought you’d escaped this.”

“’Gentleman’ taps into the same fancy-but-trashy vibe as Psy's breakout song without the geographical specificity, which still feels novel compared to every other current mainstream hit other than Psy's breakout song,” says Emily Yoshida at Grantland. “Frat boys are going to love dancing to ‘Gentleman’ while self-consciously behaving like the opposite of its namesake. ‘Gentleman’ sounds like an even split between ‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Harlem Shake,’ and fellow YG artist G-Dragon's ‘Crayon,’ which means I already have it stuck in my head within an hour of hearing it for the first time. All of these things bode very well for the song.”

As we wait to see if the song—regardless of its quality—achieves the cultural ubiquity of “Gangnam Style,” it may be more than just the pressure of living up to his first hit that Psy is shouldering.

“The build-up to ‘Gentleman’ has distracted Koreans from the saber-rattling by Kim Jong-un across the border,” writes Adam Sherwin at The Independent. “Now a nation’s pride depends upon its musical figurehead persuading the world that ‘Gentleman’ isn’t a novelty single too far.”