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K-pop to A-pop -- aboriginal singers could learn from Psy

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You can't go anywhere lately without hearing the Korean pop star Psy's big hit Gangnam Style. Not that I'm complaining... at least not yet.

Like the rest of the world, I really like the satirical singer's catchy song. It makes me smile every time I hear it or see the video. And what's not to love about those dance moves? Even my toddler gets in on the action and dances around when she hears Gangnam Style.

Psy may be a big star now, but he's only one of many Korean singers who fall into the genre of Korean pop, which is called K-pop for short. It's pretty great to see modern music in an ethnic language getting such huge attention.

We aboriginal people need to find our own Psy to sing some aboriginal Gangnam Style songs. I'm sure there are lots of aboriginal pop singers out there already.

We also have many singers who sing in their language, but none that I know of sing pop music.

Cree singer Carl Quinn had a hit a few years back with his country song, Nipin, which means summer. If you haven't heard him perform, you're missing out. With his synthesized voice and guitar, Quinn is like a cross between a Cree elder, Cher and Billy Rae Cyrus.

Maybe if I find this new talent, I could write the song for him.

I could call it Foxwoods Style, after the First Nation in Connecticut that's struck resort/casino gold. Or closer to home, I could write a song called Osoyoos Style, after the wealthy First Nation community in B.C. that's a winery and resort destination.

Wup, wup, wup, wup, wuppa... Osoyoos style.

That works.

Like the posh neighbourhood of Gangnam, I'm sure Osoyoos has its fair share of sexy ladies to sing about.

Like Psy, I would write the lyrics in Ojibwa, since it only makes sense to sing in your own language, with maybe a sprinkle of English in the chorus.

When Psy was an unknown singer studying music, I'm sure a few people told him that he'd never make it big singing in his native tongue. But he didn't seem to listen, and it paid off.

Making albums in a language other than English takes guts, especially if you want to get rich and famous. Maybe Psy just had a carefree "I don't care, I'm just going to make music I like" attitude. You have to admire that.

If we could find a suitable aboriginal candidate, it could happen. It could even spark an aboriginal revolution.

We could develop our own version of K-pop and call it A-pop or aboriginal pop. All we need is one A-pop hit from an aboriginal singer to pave the way and we'd be golden. We'd have talent scouts going to every rez in Canada.

Maybe even Simon Cowell would show up one day.

We could invent a few new dance moves too, although I don't think a cliché tomahawk chop or war whoop is going to work. But who knows? I always thought some powwow steps like the grass dance could really catch on if we show other people how it's done.

Best of all, our kids could learn to speak their language while getting their grooves on. Is your language at risk of dying? Then write some pop songs and throw in a good beat.

Songs are easy to learn from. It's how I learned my alphabet and my provinces. Now I've learned a few Korean words, thanks to Gangnam Style.

At the very least, pop songs in our languages could make our kids and ourselves proud. It would be a good morale boost. Sometimes I think people think we're just all about the serious stuff and we don't have fun like everyone else.

Who knows what an aboriginal pop star could achieve. Just like Psy, he could probably make other people smile.

Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.

colleen.simard@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 27, 2012 A17

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