“I’ve probably done the most shows here, other than in [South] Korea,” says American-born K-pop star Jay Park. “I love coming to Singapore – that’s why I keep coming back.”
And he’s not just saying that to score points, he’s literally been to Singapore every year since 2009, even serenading local actress Jeanette Aw at the Star Awards in 2012. It’s clear how familiar he feels with his Singapore fans. At his recent Meet and Greet session, he gave almost every single fan queuing a warm hug.
“I’mma sing-and-pour my heart out… Singapore,” he cheekily enunciates in the middle of talking about his latest concert here.
But judging by the lukewarm response of the media at the press conference, he probably failed to crack a successful oronymic pun with the crowd. Nevertheless, the boyish singer’s spirits weren’t dampened.
At his press conference on Jan 17 at The Butter Factory, Jay Park looked the picture perfect poster boy of Korea’s hip-hop scene in a denim blue and grey ensemble, his left arm a canvas of tattoos, reminiscent of one of his musical influences, American hip-hop legend Eminem.
Unlike the politically correct and often humdrum tweets of other K-pop celebs like Se7en, and Taeyang from BIGBANG, Jay’s explicit ones, like this of his dog, Peatry, allow him to keep things real with his fans, as do his postings on Instagram a couple of times every day. “I just want people to remember me as not just an artiste, but a humble and laidback guy- like I’m your friend, almost,” Jay expressed, as he thoughtfully took his time with each question from the media.
With 3 EPs and a full studio album New Breed released since 2009, Jay has been teasing fans about the release of his second studio album through his tweets and YouTube channel, with President of Seoul digital music distributor, DFSB Kollective, Bernie Cho branding him as “his own PR agent, fan club president and TV network”.
New Breed’s successes on Korean and international charts in 2011 (even reaching #1 on the US iTunes RnB/Soul chart) took Jay by surprise. “I was very honoured and surprised that I was even in the Top 10 because I produced the whole album myself, and just to have that accomplishment meant a lot to me,” he said.
Well, we’re sure he understands that also means higher expectations for his upcoming album, but he’s already got that covered. “I’ve sort of had writer’s block for a couple of months, but it’s been going good. I’ve had 11 songs done so far, and I’m planning to get about 5 or 6 more,” said Jay on the progress of his album. In addition to those who worked with him on New Breed, like Dynamic Duo, and Dok2, he’s hoping to rope in E-Sens from hip-hop duo Supreme Team, and fellow Korean-American K-pop star (and his old buddy), Ailee.
Speaking of collaborations, K-pop fans went wild when G-Dragon from BIGBANG, one of K-pop’s leading artistes, posted a photo of Jay and him on Twitter, and they’ll be glad to know this: “I’m definitely open to it, and he’s open to it. We just got to get the right song together, and hopefully in the near future, it’ll happen.”
But between producing his album and bboy-ing with his crews, Art of Movement and Prepix, what’s a regular Jay Park day like? “I can’t stay still, I always have to move,” the strapping hunk tells UrbanWire. “I get stressed out if I can’t work out for more than a week or 2. I tan, because you got to make the muscles look good. I practise flips at night, which also incorporates into my bboy-ing and on stage, and I write songs, raps, and do Youtube stuff,” referring to his mini-series, Jay Park TV on his YouTube channel.
Although he claims his body isn’t in perfect shape, the wild screams from his mostly teenage female fans as he peeled his shirt off onstage at his concert on Jan 18 at The Star Performing Arts Centre, say otherwise. In the whopping 5000-seat venue (that’s 2.5 times bigger than Esplanade’s theatre), Jay performed nearly 20 songs for only about 200 fans. And even with the vast number of empty seats, the undeterred star continued the show with such overwhelming charisma that it would’ve been enough to fill a sold-out hall.
He started the show with “Nothing on You”, a rendition of B.o.B’s debut single that first started out as a viral YouTube cover in the bathroom, but catapulted Jay to his solo career with over 2 million views, according to NY1, in just 1 day.
Jay obviously didn’t need to dress to impress, in his T-shirt, black jeans, and a pair of shades, because every little thing he did drove the fans crazy. If you weren’t paying attention for a second and you heard a wave of piercing screams, you probably didn’t miss much because he only took his shades off.
With 4 fellow Prepix crew members as his backup dancers, Jay showed off slick dance skills, and pretty impressive vocal stamina too. Even after full dance choreographies in “Abandoned” and a couple of bboy stunts, Jay still managed to belt out slow jams like “I Got Your Back” and “Star”.
After pumping up the audience’s adrenaline, the fast raps and complex dances took a back seat as Jay turned up his sex appeal a few notches – just for the ladies.
“Sorry to the guys,” Jay coyly apologised, before breaking out in slow hip gyrating and shirt lifts in “Turn Off The Phone” and the sexually explicit “Do What You Do” from his free online mixtape FreshA!R:Breathe!T. The response? Let’s just say the girls were extremely appreciative.
The last slow song for the night was “I Love You”, a song featuring Dynamic Duo. Jay stripped his performance down to just him and a microphone stand, leaving the dancing to his crew. Boasting a little, he said, “Have you guys heard the new Justin Timberlake song? Same producer!” The crowd gave a big “Oooh” to Jay’s proud and boyish grin.
Between almost every song, Jay made the most of the concert with short candid talk sets about his upcoming album, and what he’s been doing in Singapore. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much audience interaction as the massive hall’s echo-ey acoustics didn’t help. It took a group of fans almost 5 repeated screaming of “Take it off!” before he heard and blurted out, “You perverts!”
Only 5 songs later, at the encore performance did he finally take that shirt off in “Body2Body” to parade his ‘chocolate’ abs, which prompted fans to finally leave their seats and charge to the front of the stage. It was indeed 2 mutual acts of gratification now that his latest gig here had come to a close, and as the fans filed out of the theatre giddy with ecstasy, Jay had once again managed to keep Singapore swooning over him.
All photos courtesy of Agenda Events Management.