Saddle up for Loy Krathong
Psy will add his 'Gangnam Style' twist to the traditional holiday with a concert|next week in Muang Thong Thani
He's addressed Oxford dons and danced with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Now South Korean pop sensation Psy is heading to Bangkok to join Thais in celebrating Loy Krathong - "Gangnam Style".
"We're so lucky that he's starting his Asian tour in Thailand and, most importantly, that he will be paying tribute to His Majesty the King on the occasion on his 85th birthday," says Vinij Lertratanachai, managing director of Fresh Air Festival.
Psy will take the stage at SCG Stadium in Muang Thong Thani, sharing it with South Korean DJ Sound Cruz and Kim Eung Joo of the boy band 7942. They'll be supported by local favourite Joey Boy and his Gancore hip-hop crew, including Sing Nuea Suea Tai.
However, Vinij fully expects the comical "Gangnam Style" moves to replace the traditional ram wong folk dance at the event.
"I think that we all need to be open to our traditions going international this year. Who knows? Some Thais may even choose to dress in jong kraben [traditional Thai loincloth] to dance to the hit," he says.
Psy, which is short for Psycho, was born Park Jae-Sang in 1977 and raised in Seoul's affluent Gangnam district. His hit video, posted on the Internet in July, has recently surpassed one billion views on YouTube.
In the music business since 2001, Psy enjoyed moderate success early in his career. His song 2002 "Champion", a cut from his third album "3 Psy", was a hit and he has been regularly recognised for his songwriting skills at the annual Seoul Music Awards.
In 2010, he signed with YG Entertainment and went on to release "Psy Five" though the lead single "Right Now" was quickly banned by South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family for its "obscene" lyrics.
But while "Gangnam Style" is undoubtedly catchy, it's that strange "horse dance" - a wide-legged strut with hands crossed at the wrists as though gripping reins and a whipping gesture - that has made the song a sensation.
"Psy's dance style is completely different from Michael Jackson's moonwalk or Los de Rio's 'Macarena', which are both very complicated. Psy's is more like disco and everybody can emulate it. It goes back to the basics. His horseplay reminds us of our own Kaew Na Ma [a leading character in a folk tale dating back to the Ayutthaya period]. But most of all, the timing was right. Everything was thirsty for a new craze and 'Gangnam Style' hit the spot," says Vinij.
"There are a lot of ingredients to his popularity," says Ron Kamnuanthip, managing director of Universal Music Thailand. "K-pop is immensely popular all over the world and acts such as Girls' Generation are enjoying international success. Psy is different from other K-pop artists. He isn't handsome but has a sense of humour and amusing dance moves. He emerged at a time when people were open to something new and he caught everyone's attention with a strong tune and amusing dance moves. The social networks have done a great deal in boosting the popularity of the single as well as initiating such parodies and covers as Thailand's 'Kamnan Style'.
"In marketing terms, there's a kind of personal branding when an artist understands what he is doing. Psy is a producer and songwriter who has a good knowledge of Western music from his studies in the US and from working with many famous artists. And then there's the viral effect of a YouTube video."
With thousands of fans likely to turn out for the free concert, wouldn't it have made more sense to organise the event at a bigger venue, thus allowing Psy to break the record for the most "Gangnam" dancers?
"I thought of it but immediately rejected the idea, mainly because it would be too dangerous and impossible to control, especially if troublemakers and drunks became involved. I'm afraid of Thailand getting a bad image in an event featuring a world-famous artist," says Vinij.
"We have a great opportunity to promote our traditions and culture through him. We shouldn't waste it."
GET ON YOUR HORSE
"Gangnam Style Thailand Extra Live" takes place on Wednesday, Loy Krathong Day, at SCG Stadium next to the Thunder Dome in Muang Thong Thani.
Activities start at 3pm and the doors to the stadium open at 6.
Admission is free but tickets must be obtained from the sponsors, who include Thai Beverage Marketing, Thai Air Asia, European Food, Muang Thai Life Insurance, Siam Commercial Bank, Thai Yamaha Motor, True Corporation, and Coca-Cola (Thailand)