Truth be told, I’m not sure if Psy is an international star or an international flash in the pan. I am probably way too interested in K-Pop (obviously) to adequately gauge how much people care about Psy in 2014. ‘Gangnam Style’ recently crossed the 2 billion view threshold on Youtube, a number that is absurd when one looks at its closest competition (Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ which clocks in at just over 1 billion views). Even Psy’s first single post-‘Gangnam’, the inferior ‘Gentleman’, has managed to soak up close to 700,000,000 views. But with the speed at which pop music moves, can one hit single from a couple years ago, no matter how big, still carry some cache for an artist who is almost universally known for one song? Is Psy actually too big to fail? ‘Hangover’ unfortunately puts that theory to the test and the results are predictably lacking.
‘Hangover’ is a half minute idea that is stretched into five overbearing minutes. The pulsating techno beat is enjoyable for about ten seconds. Psy’s repetitious chanting of ‘Hangover’ is catchy but at its best the song just sounds like a ripoff of Lil’ Wayne’s masterful “A Milli”. After the introductory beat wears off things quickly fly off the rails. Simply put, there’s too much going on. The high spacey staccato notes don’t get room to breathe and are smothered by whistles, dizzying synths, claps and what sounds like clanging pots. It’s headache inducing and does evoke the feeling of being hungover but that’s definitely not a positive direction for any song to take.
With the beat being as suffocating as it is, the vocals have no chance. Psy is auto-tuned into oblivion and his great bombastic voice is neutered under a wave of polish. It’s of no surprise that Snoop Dogg ends up being the best thing about ‘Hangover’. In a song that so desperately wants to be alive, he’s the only breathing human being present on the track. Snoop’s laid back delivery does some good work in beating back against the production and it’s almost enough to provide some much needed balance against the electronic onslaught. Too often though, it’s like getting one gulp of air before being drowned under a wave of YG-infused ADD and fan service (shout out to G-Dragon who gets two seconds in this for no reason!). There’s simply too much going on and at five minutes, ‘Hangover’ melts under its own weight.
Those problems extend to the video. ‘Hangover’ doesn’t have a single memorable moment in it. It is pretty much Psy flailing about as if the mere movement of his limbs were captivating. The imagery of the short and stout Psy and the lanky and tall Snoop Dogg should provide an interesting visual contrast but both seem content to just bounce up and down while raising their arms like they’re some extras at a rave instead of the stars of a music video.
‘Hangover’ is dull and no amounts of quick cuts, drunk filters or YG dancers will solve that. Too much time is spent in Psy and Snoop Dogg’s night with two older women (it’s a joke cuz their old, get it?) with the only punchline being “beer goggles”. Psy’s usual physicality is surprisingly lacking and the dearth of choreography leaves ‘Hangover’ with very little ammunition. Here’s Psy drinking! Here’s Snoop drinking! Here’s Snoop and Psy eating and drinking together! Tired of that? Uh, look it’s CL! Hmmm… Here’s more shots of Psy and Snoop throwing their hands up! Don’t worry, there’s still three more monotonous minutes to go! It all blends together into one repetitively boring package and boredom is a description that should not define any Psy music video.
The sad thing about ‘Hangover’ isn’t even interesting in its failure. It’s easy to follow, has a brainless catchy hook and a video that makes the concept of partying with Psy look absolutely mundane. Ultimately, it is a music video that is way too satisfied with its own existence. ‘Hangover’ presumes success based on the mere fact that it is a Psy music video with a western star attached to it.
‘Gangnam Style’ was great as it managed to have a manic energy that the video was able to visually capture in fun ways that caught everyone off-guard. At very least, the follow up song ‘Gentleman’ tried to up the ante and go large in its misguided attempt at provocation (it just ended up being tasteless). ‘Hangover’ barely even comes across like it’s trying at all. The lethargy could be chalked up to some next-level concept building but Psy has never looked or seemed more hungover than in ‘Hangover’.