SXSW Music: Kim Hyuna

For me, there is always a moment when I see somebody famous in person and I think, “Wow, you really exist. Awesome.” For some reason, celebrity to my brain is almost like the lottery in George Orwell’s “1984”: a complete fiction that is real to everyone except the people who make it and know better.

This could not have been truer than when it was time for the Elysium’s Tuesday night headliner, K-pop princess Kim Hyuna, whose public cute/sexy image is so cartoonishly over-the-top, she is practically Betty Boop brought to life. And yet there she was.  

Anybody here in the States probably knows who Hyuna is, even if they think otherwise. She played Psy’s sexy horse dancing sidekick in the video for “Gangnam Style,” a performance that has now been viewed by two-sevenths of the Earth’s population (hell, she even got her own spinoff). To fans in the know, though, she is a triple threat of K-pop, from her breakout with the girl group 4Minute to the Bonnie and Clyde-esque chemistry of Trouble Maker with BEAST’s Hyunseng and a slam dunk solo career, the latter of which was the prime focus that night.   

Packing a clique of backup dancers, Hyuna jumped on stage and wasted no time getting to what we came to see, opening with her viral hit “Bubble Pop” and all the butt shaking that comes with it. Three more of her solo songs “Change,” “Attention” and “Ice Cream” followed, with the latter’s seductive hook “I’ll melt you down like ice cream” turning prophetic in the heat of the club.   

It might be a debate whether or not Hyuna’s work has any musical value, but I am pretty sure I will not be participating in it. Hyuna’s performance was irrepressibly fun and both her choreography and songs have a sort of dedication that we have kind of strayed away from stateside. While her lack of English prevented her from making a lot of conversation, that did not stop her from proclaiming in an adorably squeaky voice, “I love Austin! Thank you so much!”

It is okay, Hyuna. We got the message.