Can Psy top his 'Gangnam Style' success? History says no
Posted January 8, 2013
Psy enjoyed a gold-star year in 2012, piling up 3.6 million download sales and 1 billion video views with his huge hit, Gangnam Style. But now that the Pony dance has galloped around the globe, the 35-year-old South Korean rapper is ready for a new groove. He told MTV News that he may be "ending" Gangnam Style because it got "too popular," and he'll be working on a new single.
What are the possibilities that he'll repeat Gangnam Style's success? "The chances of capturing that zeitgeist are very small," says Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard. "Gangnam Style was at the right place and right time." Adding to the unlikelihood of another Gangnam phenom: Psy doesn't sing in English, which diminishes his chances of a second success in America.
If history is any indication, Psy faces an insurmountable challenge. "The same question could be asked of Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know or Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe," says Caulfield. "But as long as they keep making good music, it doesn't matter. Did Bruce Springsteen have another Born in the USA? Did Madonna have another Like a Virgin? No. But they went on to other successes."
Here's a look at four other artists who had it all, until they didn't.
Signature song: U Can't Touch This (1990)
Dissing the hit: With five singles that went top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, Hammer was far from a one-hit wonder. But rap purists decried his rampant sampling, saying he was stealing more than borrowing from others' songs. That there were MC Hammer dolls in toy stores and a Saturday morning cartoon, Hammerman, only added to the ridicule from his peers. He responded to the backlash by dropping the "MC" from his stage name and took a grittier stance with his music.
How his story played out: His 1991 album Too Legit to Quit met with success, but on 1995's Inside Out, Hammer nailed the coffin shut. By 1996, his notoriously lavish lifestyle caught up with him and he filed for bankruptcy.
Signature song: Ice Ice Baby (1990)
Dissing the hit: With the meteoric success of his debut album, To the Extreme, the Miami rapper attempted to stretch his moment with a documentary, Cool As Ice (1991). By then, however, fans had moved on. Over the years, he tried on different styles – laidback rap, gangster rap and an amalgamation of rock and rap – but nothing fit. In 1999, he appeared on MTV's 25 Lame, a special ridiculing the worst music videos, and trashed the set with a baseball bat, a clear acknowledgement that his Ice Ice Baby video is, in fact, lame.
How his story played out: Vanilla Ice, aka Robert Van Winkle, turned to real-estate development. He earned plenty of money by renovating houses and flipping them. He even had a DIY reality TV show, The Vanilla Ice Project.
Signature song: Only In My Dreams (1987)
Dissing the hit: She had a few more hits (Foolish Beat, Shake Your Love), all before she graduated high school. Then she grew up and insisted on being called "Deborah."
How her story played out: Her attempt at changing her image from cute bubblegum-popping teen to sultry singer didn't take with fans. But she gathered a considerable following when she switched her focus to Broadway, landing starring roles in Les Miserables and a West End production of Grease.
Signature song: Take On Me (1985)
Dissing the hit: The Norwegian heartthrobs' groundbreaking music video for Take On Me and the popularity of 1985 debut album Hunting High and Low made them international stars. They tried to evolve their sound, moving from synth-pop to rock with sophomore album Scoundrel Days, but it bombed in the USA.
How the group's story played out: Although the band landed the coveted gig of doing a Bond theme song (1987's The Living Daylights), they faded out of sight.
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