At the height of his Gangnam Style fame, Psy dodged the New York paparazzi to make his way to The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM Hits 1. After talking to the show’s hosts about his new-found celebrity, he taught them how to do the Gangnam Style dance.
Most of Psy’s visit was broadcast on SiriusXM, but a lot went on behind the scenes. MMU host Nicole shared details from Psy’s appearance on the show, from his questionable English to his giant entourage.
What was your first impression of Psy?
Well, he’s short. Super short. Also really smiley, really kind. He seemed really grateful to be there and if he didn’t understand what was going on, he just smiled and he just laughed. He was overly sweet. Just a sweet, sweet guy.
How do you think Psy’s appearance on The Morning Mash Up was different from the more traditional pop stars you have on the show?
He’s not from the U.S. and he sort of was this phenomenon that nobody really saw coming. He doesn’t speak terribly good English. It was one of those YouTube sensation things where you sort of have to seize the moment in a different way than you do with just somebody who’s coming to promote their album, because you really want to take advantage of all the people who are just obsessed with whatever dance or whatever they’re doing. It wasn’t just about interviewing about his life, about what’s on the album or what’s going on with him right now, it was more about ‘how did this come about, did you think it was going to be this big, can you show us how to do it, can we make it better, can we put our own twist on it?’ It was definitely different. The language barrier was probably the biggest [issue]. I don’t know if he was putting on a show or not, but it didn’t seem like he spoke very good English. He didn’t get our humor at all. He didn’t think we were very funny.
What was lost in translation?
When he was giving us specific instructions on what to do [during the Gangnam Style dance], he had different ways of explaining it or a different way than you would explain a certain dance move. He just sort of had hokey ways of calling the move, and we’d have to be like, “Can you just show us? Because we don’t know what you’re talking about.”
How did Psy’s status as a YouTube sensation rather than a traditional artist affect the interview?
We treated him like any other celebrity that comes in because he really was. When someone’s a YouTube sensation, their celebrity at the moment is as big as the president, as big as any singer out there. You treat them the same way because people are as interested in them as they are any other celebrity.
How did you prepare for Psy’s appearance?
We tried to learn a little bit [of the Gangnam Style dance]. We tried to look at the video a couple times so we wouldn’t be completely clueless. We wanted to seem like we sort of knew what we were doing. Plus, people love to hear just normal, everyday things: What did they eat for breakfast? What TV shows are they watching? You just want to make sure you have fun with it. If you don’t know what you’re saying or what you’re doing, that confusion sometimes is funny.
Who did Psy bring to the studio with him?
He had a pretty large entourage. I understood why he did because people are obsessive with YouTube people. He was late to come up here because he had paparazzi everywhere. This guy just burst onto the scene and there’s a million people flying at him, wanting a piece of him. He definitely had more people than I expected him to, and I think some of that was to help understand what was going on.
Is there anything you wish you had asked him that you didn’t at the time?
After the whole Gangnam Style thing happened, he got really bad press that he had said anti-American things when he was over in Korea. I wish I had been able to know that and find out his thoughts on it, what he really meant, where his head was at regarding it. When people get bad press and a story comes out, it’s like a game of telephone, and things get misconstrued. I feel like he’s a nice guy and I don’t want to believe he’d ever do something horrible like that. I wish I had known about that, but it came out after we interviewed him. I wish I had known then, so I could have gotten the story straight from him.
What was your favorite moment from Psy’s time on the show?
When he was clapping in excitement that we did a good job, I felt sincerely proud. Even though it was the stupidest thing and it was just dancing, I was like, “I did it!” I’ve got two left feet and I’m not a very good dancer, but I did the Gangnam Style dance. That was probably my favorite moment when I saw him legitimately smile like he was happy with our performance.