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Wednesday , November 21 2018

‘No chance of another Gangnam’ – Sinatra’s birthplace commemorates his 100th

South Korean singer PSY answers a reporter’s question during a news conference on the release of his seventh album in Seoul, South Korea on Nov 30. (AP)
South Korean singer PSY answers a reporter’s question during a news conference on the release of his seventh album in Seoul, South Korea on Nov 30. (AP)

SEOUL, Nov 30, (Agencies): “Gangnam Style” star Psy acknowledged Monday that he could never repeat the phenomenal global success of his 2012 hit, but said he was perfectly happy being “just another” K-pop artist.

The quirky South Korean singer was catapulted to unlikely international stardom after the “Gangnam Style” music video, with its invisible horse-riding dance, went viral.

The song — a satire of the luxury lifestyle of residents in Seoul’s glitzy Gangnam district — remains the most-watched video of all time on YouTube, with more than 2.4 billion views.

The 37-year-old singer said the success of the song and the expectations that came with it had sometimes been difficult to cope with.

“The pressure and stress was simply too huge,” he told a press conference in Seoul ahead of the release on Tuesday of his new album.

Asked if he imagined another worldwide hit, Psy shook his head.

“No chance,” he said. “I don’t think something like ‘Gangnam Style’ will ever happen again.”

Famous

“The sheer weight of Gangnam was so heavy, I don’t even go to Gangnam anymore,” he joked.

Before “Gangnam Style” conquered the globe, Psy had already been an established star at home for more than a decade, famous for provocative lyrics and rambunctious stage performances.

Some fans at home felt that the singer lost his edge after travelling the world.

Psy admitted that he had found himself trying too hard to please a global audience and vowed that his new album — his seventh — marked a return to “his roots”.

“While I was writing songs, I often found myself wondering, ‘will this be as good as Gangnam Style? Or what if foreign fans don’t understand this lyric?’” he said.

“It took me a while to force such thoughts out of my mind,” he said, adding he would be perfectly content being “just another K-pop artist” for a while.

The new album, titled “Cider”, contains nine songs including the double-titles “Daddy” and “Bell Bottoms” — both dance tunes.

 PSY says the pressure to live up to that success caused him to take his time with his next project.

“There were many thoughts going around in my head, including thoughts like ‘If I write like this, it would be not as good as Gangnam Style,’ and ‘If I write like this, the international audience will not understand,’ so it took me a very long time to organize all those thoughts into one,” PSY said at a news conference in Seoul on Monday, a day before “Chiljip PSY-Da” debuts.

PSY’s new album includes songs of various genres, including dance music, hip-hop and punk.

He said he tried to include many emotions, including happiness, anger, sadness, joy, love, hatred and greed, as he had done in his past albums.

“Because this is an album that retains my continued desire as a lyric writer who wants to try things other than love songs in a movie-like way, there are several genres,” he said.

Chicago was his kind of town, L.A. was his lady and he certainly was a big part of New York, New York. But despite a love-hate relationship, the mile-square New Jersey city where Frank Sinatra was born is finding the centennial of his birth to be a very good year.

Throughout 2015, Hoboken has remembered its native son, who died in 1998 at age 82, with outdoor screenings of his movies, a “Sinatra Idol” competition and concerts that will be capped by a centennial birthday bash on Dec 12 at the Stevens Institute of Technology, which awarded the high school dropout an honorary degree in 1985.

The small-scale event is not generating the same buzz as “Sinatra 100 — An All-Star Grammy Concert” on Dec 2 in Las Vegas, featuring Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion and other performers.

Even so, the Hoboken Historical Museum has seen a 300 percent jump in visitors since opening a Sinatra exhibit in early August and has hired extra staff, director Robert Foster said.

“Whenever we do something on Sinatra, people come out of the woodwork,” Foster said. “We enjoy the fans because they are so loyal and he means so much to them.”

Displays

Lacking any major items that belonged to Sinatra, the museum tells his story through media displays and visitors receive a map with their $4 admission that features Sinatra sites.

Greta Wilson, who was born and raised in Hoboken, said Sinatra is “always the first thing” people ask her about when they learned where she is from.

“They always wanted to know if I had seen him in a store or a movie theater or some other place in town, and if he was like a regular person or if he acted like a stuck-up movie star,” she said.

A plaque marks the former building at 415 Monroe St. where Sinatra was born in 1915 to middle-class parents.

“He had a nice life,” said Chuck Granata, who co-produces and engineers the “Nancy for Frank” satellite radio program with Sinatra’s oldest daughter, Nancy. “Frank was not poor and was probably one of the more fortunate kids growing up.”

His mother made sure her son had nice clothes and even a car, which helped him gain a spot in 1935 with the singing group the Hoboken Four. They won first prize on a national radio program for amateur entertainers, and Sinatra started along a path that led to big bands, bobby soxers and fame.

However, some Hoboken residents felt Sinatra had forgotten them, reflected in the reception he got when he rode on a float in a 1947 parade and was pelted with tomatoes, according to biographer Ed Shirak. Sinatra later called Hoboken a sewer.

Renovate

Urban blight plagued the city until the 1970s, when New Yorkers started crossing the Hudson River to renovate brownstones and build condominiums. The icy relationship began to thaw in 1979 when the city changed River Road to Sinatra Drive. A park and the city’s main post office would also bear his name.

Hoboken these days reflects Sinatra cool, where fashionable young hipsters roam the city’s bars and restaurants after spending the day working in Manhattan.

Wilson, 68, who now lives on Long Beach Island, said she thought Sinatra was a great representative for Hoboken.

“People unfamiliar with Hoboken seem to think of it as a dumpy small Jersey town, filled with people who really want to live in New York City,” she said. “Frank helped put Hoboken on the map, and people still come there to this day just see ‘his town’ and learn more about him. Hoboken owes Sinatra a lot.”

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