Believe it or not, it’s been nearly five years since “Gangnam Style” took the world by storm and since then, Psy has built an empire on YouTube views. Of the six most viewed K-pop MVs of all time, five of them belong to Psy. Very much catered towards his international audience, “New Face” aims to get high on the list by deploying Psy’s bag of tricks. “New Face” doesn’t deviate far from Psy’s previous offerings but there’s enough panache and new material to keep viewers hooked. Let’s see what’s recycled and what’s new about “New Face.”
In terms of plot, “New Face” follows a simplistic outline which we’re all familiar with from having watched “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman” literally a couple billion times Psy sees girl, fawns over her, and eventually wins her over, or at least gets her to join his army of dancers. However, one big difference in “New Face” is that Psy is focused on the girl right from the beginning. Instead of allowing us to get to know Psy’s character first, we focus immediately on the girl and get to know Psy along the way, which brings us to the first trope…
Psy plays multiple odd characters. We’ve seen it in “Daddy” where he simultaneously plays the dad, the son, and the grandson. In “New Face,” he plays every single employee in the hotel from the bellhop to the cards dealer. It’s not quite clear whether all these characters are meant to be different people or if it’s Psy dressed as different people in order to be near the girl. I choose to believe it’s the latter because it’s that persistence and borderline desperation that makes this storyline work. Otherwise, there isn’t really much of the actual Psy in this MV because, aside from Psy’s many characters, this MV is completely overrun by the second trope…
“New Face” continues the tradition of featuring an attractive leading lady who’s also kind of a big deal in her own right. From Hyuna, to Ga-in, then CL, Naeun of A Pink is next in line to carry the torch of being Psy’s ‘it’ girl. I’ve ragged on Naeun in the past for having nearly zero personality and I’m not entirely convinced that she’s done much to change that despite there being a few moments where she does show signs of human emotion.
The parts where she does the dab move are pretty hilarious and the first time she did it was truly unexpected because her face gets super serious and she does something which we’ve never seen her do in any of her A Pink material she hits the move hard. She does the move so many times throughout the MV yet it never gets old because it’s just so refreshing to see Naeun act fierce for a change. Nevertheless, her main reason for being in the MV is to literally provide a new face for Psy (and the audience) to muse over and, in that respect, she was the perfect choice.
Speaking of the dab, let’s talk about the dancing. Because of his size, Psy’s moves are often leg-focused to bring out the energy and excitement of seeing a relatively large man move so nimbly. The dancing in “New Face” doesn’t actually feature too much intense legwork other than at the beginning of where he sings “Yes, I want some new face.” Instead, the focus is left on the choreography’s hook move, which brings us to our third trope
Probably at the very core of Psy’s viral appeal are his catchy dance moves. Whether it’s the famous horse dance from “Gangnam Style,” the “Abracadabra” dance from “Gentleman,” or the “Roly Poly” move from “Napal Baji,” Psy knows how to get the audience involved with an amusing yet easy-to-perform hook move. In this case, he’s adapting the current dance trend that everyone and their House Majority Leader knows how to do the dab but not without putting his own spin on it.
When I saw Psy doing the dab with Nauen for the first time, I was so caught off guard that it made me laugh. Then I realized, that’s kind of the point. It’s Psy’s goofiness paired with Naeun’s stoicism which generates a contrast that the brain just fails to register. In addition, the dab in “New Face” is executed so intensely with a full windup and follow-through that it’s hard not to find it amusing and instantly rewatchable. The best part is the shot where Psy, posing as a chef, throws dough in the air after executing the move.
Psy is also known for having many innuendos and gags in his MVs but “New Face” is actually quite calm in that department. Other than cosplaying as different hotel employees, Psy does nothing as crazy as being catapulted into a swimming pool, dancing through heaps of trash being blown at him, or walking with Snoop Dogg by his side as complete and utter chaos engulfs the set behind him. In New Face, there’s very little in the way of gags, which is what made that one shot of him standing in front of the water statue pretending to pee into the fountain that much more enjoyable. It’s juvenile, cringe-inducing, and very much reminiscent of the Psy that we remember. However, this time it’s being done in a splendid hotel, which is the basis of our next trope…
There are so many gorgeous sets in this MV. Gone are the days when Psy went with a children’s playground or the inside of a tour bus as his backgrounds. He goes all out in “New Face,” making the most of lavish hotel interiors on the Las Vegas strip. Of the many sets used, the most gorgeous has to be the famous promenade inside The Venetian where the gondolas and pedestrian bridges are designed to imitate Venice. The use of real outdoor spaces as backgrounds is certainly the highlight of this MV and none was better utilized than in the grand finale where we were treated to one final, yet easily recognizable Psy trope…
Of course, no Psy MV would be complete without a flash mob finale. Usually conducted on a large studio set, this final dance sequence with its countless number of backup dancers uses an entire outdoor pool area to fantastic effect. The fabulous outdoor pool with the majestic hotel looming in the background is a perfect location to capture the MV’s grand finale. The enormous scale of the performance combined with the breathtaking background makes for some really eye-popping shots. All of the sets in this MV are so beautiful that it’s strange to see them contrasted with images of Psy simply being Psy. But then again, strange is a quite fitting description of Psy and his many tropes.
Readers, what did you like most about “New Face?” Will the world ever get tired of Psy? Will Naeun ever possess human-like qualities?
(YouTube, Images via YG Entertainment)
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