Ai Weiwei Making a Heavy Metal Album

His powerful sculptures landed him in hot water with authorities in his native China, and now, Ai Weiwei is trying out a different kind of heavy metal. Having worked with sculpture as well as audiovisual art, the artist and activist is planning on recording a heavy metal album called Shen Qu, or “Divine Comedy.” The Dante and Heaven/Hell motifs make for pretty excellent heavy metal concept album fodder, if not a little well-worn, but either way, props to Ai for doing his homework.

The artist told The Guardian his interest in testing the musical waters came from his 81-day stint in jail, where he realized his lack of musical knowledge outside of Chinese revolutionary songs. Consultants on the album will include Chinese rock artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou as well as one of his marquee supporters from the pop music world, Elton John, for whom he made a video. Material will include a song called “The Great Firewall of China,” about the country’s Internet censorship. It will probably not include a cover of “Holy Diver,” as sweet as that has the potential to be.

Ai isn’t a stranger to using popular music as his medium, however. He did do that amazing “Gangnam Style” video, perhaps the only “Gangnam Style” parody the world actually really needed. Let’s revisit that below.

This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Lock & Key Opens, Female Chef Takeover, Sunday Roast

Now: Lock & Key Opens In Koreatown
Blame it on Gangnam Style; Koreatown is fast becoming the hood that should be on your radar. Not only is The Line slated to open this year (by the Sydell Group, responsible for NYC’s Nomad Hotel) but LA Weekly recently named Koreatown "America’s Hippest Neighborhood." Lending to this movement: Lock & Key. The new bar and lounge opened last week and is paying tribute to the 1920s speakeasy theme. Expect a hidden entrance, array of fancy cocktails concocted with boutique spirits and liquors, and international, Asian street food. You don’t need a secret code to enter but (spoiler) the red door is a giveaway. Just make sure you know the right doorknob and lock (out of many) that grants you entrance.

Lock & Key (239 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown) is now open. For more information, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Tuesday: Female Chefs Take Over Abigaile’s Kitchen
We can take the heat in the kitchen, thanks to Kitchen Takeover at Abigaile Restaurant with a roster of all-female chefs cooking up a five-course dinner in honor of National Women’s History Month. Some of LA’s hottest tastemakers, like mixologist Lindsay Nadar (Son of a Gun, Pour Vous) and Danielle Keene (Top Chef Just Desserts), will ensure vixen fixins’.

The Kitchen Takeover III is $65, with proceeds benefiting the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Call 310-798-8227 to make a reservation. For more information on Abigaile (1301 Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach), check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Sunday: The Pikey’s Classic Sunday Roast
Scenester’s favorite modern, West Hollywood gastropub The Pikey is now serving a late-afternoon, British-style Sunday roast, with a rotation of English-themed dishes a true Englishman would approve of. Local and organic dishes include beef short ribs and roasts of lamb with mint jelly and duck fat potatoes, among other hearty entrees. Sorry, fish and chips!

The Classic Sunday Roast is held every Sunday for an indefinite period with a $22 per person menu. For more information on The Pikey (7617 West Sunset Boulevard), visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in L.A. by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

Real Housewives Have ‘Gangnam’ Housewife Style

In what one hopes is a send-up of the Real Housewives franchise, a group of British women have parodied Gangnam Style with this very well done Housewife Style spoof.

Most of these moms are dancing in Mrs. Claus miniskirst and high heels, humping their mops and brooms as they sing, "Mop! Mop! Mop! We’ve got housewife style!"  And of course there’s an appearance by 50 Shades Of Grey. The women from Buckinghamshire are all clearly well-to-do, judging by the enviable kitchens, champagne fluts in the hot tub, golf courses and horses.

But unlike their Beverly Hills counterparts, these yummie mummies (as the Brits call them) come off as more loveable than odious: their goofy PSY spoof is raising money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a UK charity. 

Watch below: 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

‘Gangnam Style’ Gets The Ukelele Version

Everything sounds better and more stoned when performed by ukelele.

And Gangnam Style is no different. 

Here’s two teenager-looking girls, Hope Johnson and Maggie Rosenberg, who call themselves We Sing  Happy Songs and post performances of their covers on YouTube.  

Judging by their Facebook pages, they appear to live in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But instead of eye-roll inducing ukelele hipsterism, these ladies’ cover of Gangnam Style is quite sweet.

Of course this is just the millionth Gangnam Style cover or reaction. We’ve got your old people reacting to Gangnam Style. Artist/Chinese dissident Ai Wei Wei dancing to the song. We’ve got Gangnam Style without musical backing. And even a cover by MIT nerds

The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is right: if the apocalypse is indeed upon us, K-Pop is to blame. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Politicians Use Popular Internet Thing To Appeal To Social Media Generation

Over the weekend, we brought you the story of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who, in a radio interview, joked about the Mayan apocalypse coming to fruition later this month, citing the popularity of pop star Psy and his viral hit “Gangnam Style.” Well, about half a year into the phenomenon, it seems America’s brilliant elected officials have finally caught on and are using it to get hip with the electorate and the young people and the YouTube generation and whatnot.

In the great state of South Carolina, state senator Tom Davis used the JibJab sendable template (crediting his paralegals with the editing help) to create a video with his face superimposed on Psy’s, appearing in key scenes from the song’s memorable video. But receiving more attention was a video from former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wy.), who did his best galloping Gangnam dance in a video PSA for TCKB, a nonpartisan campaign that seeks to motivate our nation’s young people to care about and fix the national debt and keep us from falling off the fiscal cliff and such.

Simpson, in a monologue that was certainly well-intentioned but definitely sounds like a couple of PR stooges who spent literally five minutes scanning the Internet for relevant social media trends and buzzwords they thought would appeal to “millennials,” urges young Americans to “stop Instagramming your breakfast and tweeting your first world problems, and getting on YouTube so you can see ‘Gangnam Style,’ and start using those precious social media skills to go out and sign people up on this baby.” His dancing is spirited (TCKB field director Nick Troiano told Politico that “he related it to growing up in Wyoming and riding horses,” so whatever works!), but there are only so many times a group with an agenda trying to appear relevant can use “Gangnam Style” as a gimmick, and as a strategy, it’s long past its expiration date. Anyway, watch. 

Australian Prime Minister Warns Apocalypse Is Near, Blames K-Pop

Oh, those witty Australians!

Prime Minister Julia Gillard filmed a tongue-in-cheek press conference for radio station Triple J, warning that the Mayans were right and the impending apocalypse is nigh.

(It’s December 21, 2012, in case you forgot to update your iCal.)

Whether it ends with with the Korean invasion of K-Pop, or a blood-hungry zombie invasion, Gillard doesn’t know. It’s probably safe to go with Gangnam Style on this one.

A politician in the United States could never do this without being taken utterly seriously, War Of The Worlds-style, and leading to mass lootings of Wal-marts. 

Watch PM Gillard make a funny below:

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Psy Lectures As Part of Oxford Unions’ ‘People Who Shape Our World’ Series

Sunglasses-sporting Korean rapper Psy has been the subject of many a meme and a mashup and a viral video, but very little have we had the opportunity to hear the man behind “Gangnam Style” speak at length about his own experiences. Lucky for his fans (and all those intrigued by him), this week, Oxford University Unions invited Psy to speak as part of their “People Who Shape Our World” series. Psy takes the lectern in only the way he can, still sporting his shades for his lecture, talking about how he got his start, his college years in America and the music that changed his life:

“When I was 15, I saw video footage of Queen at Wembley Stadium, and they sang ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” he tells the crowd. “It was literally shocking. First of all, the song itself, it was a shock. It was too long, and it has too many changes. I was Korean, I didn’t know what the lyrics where about. I didn’t know about the opera thing. And then the lyrics changed to opera, and then rock goes on, and then slow goes on… I was like, ‘What is that?’ For a year after that, I didn’t listen to music, because it was so shocking.”

He later goes on to say some important things about the music industry and being an artist, as well as the advent of his massive international hit. Turns out, the ridiculousness is very much intentional, a way to let loose and make the world laugh during trying economic and spiritual times. And through it all, appropriately enough, he’s really, really funny! Dude has some excellent one-liners. Watch.

MIT Nerds Cover ‘Gangnam Style’

It was the most fun they’d had in their entire lives.

MIT is a little late to the Gangnam Style parody game, but in fairness, they were probably busy designing the fork-phone-vibrators we’ll be eat-talk-sexing with in 2015, so we can forgive them.

In seriousness, it’s cute:

 

ICYMI: other Gangnam parodies/covers/mashups include Chinese dissident Ai Wei Wei, the Call Me Maybe mashup, and old people’s reactions to Psy’s music video.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Here Is A Video of Ai Weiwei Dancing To “Gangnam Style”

The last thing the world needed was another "Gangnam Style" parody, but what it did need and perhaps didn’t know it needed was a "Gangnam Style" parody from Ai Weiwei. As it turns out, the occasionally irreverent, never apologetic artist and activist, in addition to being a talented and incisive (if a bit goofy) social commentator, also has killer dance moves. For his latest endeavor, Ai released his own fairly spot-on interpretation of the wildly popular video for Korean rapper Psy’s international megahit “Gangnam Style.”

Ai dances frenetically through Psy’s now-ubiquitous choreography, taking scenes directly from the "Gangnam Style" video (including one where he prances through a horse stable) — there was a rumor for all of five seconds that Psy actually stopped by his Beijing studio to teach him the dance, although given Psy’s itinerary and a lack of evidence, this probably didn’t happen. (But it would be cool if it had!) Ai’s interpretation is actually a pretty relevant reminder, too, given how few people, especially Western listeners, are probably getting all the cultural context and Psy’s actual riffing on the ultra-wealthy district of Seoul that gives the song its name and how many just take the silliness at face value. Anyway, it’s great. Watch, and then proceed to roll your eyes at all the ill-conceived (and potentially offensive) Psy costumes you see this Halloween.