Posted : 2013-05-06 17:19
Updated : 2013-05-06 17:19

Alternative to Psy

These three scenes are from Lee Hyo-ri's music video for her new single, "Miss Korea," which was released Monday. / Courtesy of B2M Entertainment

Lee Hyo-ri is Miss Korea in new album

By Baek Byung-yeul

The Korean music scene is currently a two-man act between veteran singer Cho Yong-pil and YouTube rapper Psy. Now Lee Hyo-ri, the self-proclaimed queen of K-pop, is looking to prove three can play this game.

The 33-year-old singer on Monday unveiled her first new song in three years, ''Miss Korea,'' which will be included on her fifth studio album that is soon to be released.

In the music video for the song, Lee masquerades as a beauty pageant contestant fully displaying what made her the country's sex symbol for the 21st century, but nonetheless singing that every ordinary woman is a winner. But there are only a few winners like her.

It could be argued that Cho, Psy and Lee are the only pop singers in Korea whose cultural influences transcend their music and have broader social impact.
Cho's new album, ''Hello,'' and Psy's ''Gangnam Style'' follow-up, ''Gentleman,'' have the industry's slew of sugary girl- and boy-bands pushed out of sight for the moment. Now Lee, who embodies a more mature brand of sexiness than the wide-eyed teen-queen image overused by K-pop girl groups, is vowing to give the teenybopper genre another smack.

Unlike Cho and Psy, who have distinctive styles as musicians, Lee became a cultural icon first before she began to find her own identity in music. No other singer had so ruthlessly and effectively converted her sex appeal into commercial power, as unlike previous music sex symbols like Kim Wan-sun or Min Hae-kyung, Lee has benefited from the 24/7 media.

Lee debuted as a member of girl group, Fin.K.L., in 1998, and embarked on a solo career in 2003 with her album, ''STYLISH..E Hyolee.'' Her first solo album sold 150,000 copies and her second album, ''Dark Angel,'' was a solid success as well, selling 70,000 copies on its first day of release. However, Lee's promotion of her second album was cut short after four months after one of its songs, ''Get Ya,'' was exposed as a work of plagiarism.

After a two-year hiatus, Lee returned with her third album, ''It's Hyorish,'' in 2008, and enjoyed a number of hits including ''U-Go-Girl.'' However, the buzz for her fourth album released in 2010 was killed quickly after Lee cut short the promotion and announced on her website that she discovered six songs on it were suspected of being plagiarized.

Her music career seemed to have hit a dead end. Interestingly, this is precisely the time when Lee seemed to grow as a cultural influence.

She began writing online columns for vernacular newspapers such as the Hankyeoreh that mixed her thoughts on life and career with social commentary, and was well reviewed for her simple prose, humor and intelligence. She also became an increasing presence in the civic community, providing a rare voice of dry reason amid the country's zealous animal rights activists.

Lee is now finally confident enough to continue her music career. She has been dating jazz guitarist Lee Sang-soon, 38, since 2011 and says her music has matured along with the relationship.

''Miss Korea'' was co-written by her and her boyfriend, and as of Monday afternoon, was topping the major download charts. Her new full-length album will be released on May 21.

관련 한글 기사

이효리 신곡 “미스코리아” 공개

‘국민가수’ 조용필과 ‘월드스타’ 싸이에 의해 양분되고 있는 한국 가요계의 큰 별들의 전쟁에 ‘퀸’ 이효리가 뛰어들었다.

6일 공개된 이효리의 신곡‘미스코리아’는 음원 공개 2시간만에 멜론, 엠넷, 네이버 뮤직 등 각종 온라인 실시간 차트에서 1위에 올랐다

3년만에 정식으로 내놓는 음원 공개 전, 자신의 떨리는 심경을 트위터를 통해 밝히기도 했던 그는 1위를 차지한 후 “많은 분의 관심과 성원에 힘입어 1등도 해보고 행복하다”며 감사의 글을 다시 올렸다.

‘미스코리아’는 이효리 본인이 직접 작사, 작곡한 곡으로 그의 연인 이상순이 직접 편곡을 맡아 화제가 되었다.

음원과 함께 공개 된 뮤직비디오에서 미스코리아로 분한 이효리는 자신이 왜 21세기 섹시 아이콘으로 불리는지를 보여주었다.

한편, 이효리는 오는 21일‘미스코리아’를 포함한 정규 5집을 발매할 예정이다.

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