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Psy bringing Gangnam Style to video awards

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South Korean rapper Psy will both host and perform at the 2013 MMVAs.

KIN CHEUNG / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

South Korean rapper Psy will both host and perform at the 2013 MMVAs.

TORONTO -- The MuchMusic Video Awards have long held a reputation for unpredictable, unscripted zaniness, but loose-limbed South Korean rapper Psy says he'll leave nothing to chance when he handles MC duties at this weekend's broadcast.

"(The) MMVAs are gonna have (their) first co-host whose mother tongue is not English, so you know, I'm going to have a script and I'm going to memorize it because it's live," the cheerful 35-year-old said from London this week.

"I don't want to ruin the show."

Once he found out he had landed the hosting gig, Psy began to comb through footage of previous MMVA galas, summing up the research by saying: "I saw the productions and everything. Wow, that was a big deal."

The show -- held this Sunday outside MuchMusic's downtown Toronto headquarters -- will feature appearances from Taylor Swift, Pretty Little Liars stars Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell and Big Bang Theory cast member Kunal Nayyar, as well as performances from the likes of punk-pop veteran Avril Lavigne, former Disney star Demi Lovato and British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, a personal favourite of Psy's.

"Me and Ed Sheeran, we drank in Las Vegas once and in London, so Toronto's going to be the third time me and Ed Sheeran are going to drink," he said with a laugh.

"He's just like my kind of guy. A lot of fun."

Psy will take the stage for a two-song performance of his ribald new single Gentleman and last year's worldwide viral smash Gangnam Style.

"We're going to see a lot of Canadian fans doing the horse-y thing, you know," he said, referring to the latter song's goofy signature dance move. "This is going to be my first time ever performing Gentleman on Canadian TV, so I'm going to be accurate and I'm going to be very certain with (that song)."

Psy is proud of Gentleman, his second single to be released in North America. It's reached the Top 10 on the Billboard singles chart in both Canada and the U.S. as well as other countries around the world, and its madcap video -- which features the brightly outfitted rapper pulling a series of pranks and dancing maniacally overtop of his victims -- has racked up an astonishing 415 million-plus views on YouTube.

Well, it's astonishing as long as you don't compare it to the attention amassed by his wildly popular Gangnam Style, the most-viewed online video ever with roughly 1.65 billion clicks. The song topped charts around the world and went four times platinum in Canada.

And the pop star is realistic when looking at those numbers.

"Gangnam Style was too much," he said. "I think my entire life or my entire career, that's going to be (the) biggest ever. I'm not going to try to break that. So right after that huge song, Gentleman did a good job. That's all I can say."

Both songs should be included in Psy's North American debut album, which he's expecting to hit stores in September. He says it will be a "greatest hits"-type package culled from the six albums he's released in Korea, with new arrangements and, in some cases, English translations.

"Not just the dance music, but you're going to see some variety of genres that Psy's going to play," he says of the record.

Despite his enormous success, Psy still feels like an outsider, to a degree.

He's grown more comfortable as he's fast become a sensation here, sure, but he points out that even when the long work of trying to establish his career here is done -- when he's not doing interviews, appearances or performances -- he can't really relax, since he's constantly conversing in a language that doesn't come easily to him.

"After all the work is done, for me, work is not done, because I gotta still use English.

"So sometimes with that kind of language difference and sometimes with all kinds of cultural differences, of course I miss my country and I really want to go back to my country sometimes. But you know ... this is a kind of a lifetime (opportunity). And this is the first chance (here) for an Asian artist. So I gotta be good and I gotta do something more."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 D4

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