SXSW Live Shot: HyunA

Korean superstar ropes in even Lady Gaga

This was undoubtedly the smallest stage HyunA has occupied in quite some time. The 21-year old South Korean has amassed over 100 million total YouTube views between her two smashes “Ice Cream” and “Bubble Pop.” That’s the capacity of Red River dance mainstay Elysium 500,000 times over.

Marked by elastic, Missy Elliott-esque music videos and some of the purest pop choruses in the planet, HyunA remains a thoroughbred superstar. The United States could be her greatest conquest.

Photo by John Leach

This may be the house that Psy built, but never call HyunA a novelty. A 15-minute, four-song set capping off a Korean pop showcase served mostly to demonstrate her talents to a hungry industry. It was her first solo show on U.S. soil.

Flanked by four backup dancers and a safety-net backing track, the nascent headliner swallowed her agitations and dove headfirst into “Bubble Pop,” one of the clarion calls of K-Pop. Koreans breezily sang along and Americans held their phones aloft, perhaps bewildered they were finally hearing a song that exclusively lived in cyberspace for over two years in the flesh. Lady Gaga watched silently from the rafters.

HyunA nailed the verses. Landed the choreography. Moved on to this next one.

Photo by John Leach

You get the sense that she’s being groomed right now, slowly tested for a new, cross-Atlantic market. There were a number of old white men staking their claim. HyunA thanked us in adorably stilted English.

“Bye, until next time!” she chimed.

Next time might be a lot sooner than we think.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Angel Olsen Entrances Mohawk
Angel Olsen Entrances Mohawk
Her other shoe drops tonight at the Red River favorite

Abby Johnston, Feb. 7, 2017

Out of the Gutter
Out of the Gutter
The Bulemics grow up

Tim Stegall, April 1, 2016

More by Luke Winkie
ACL Music Fest 2015 Friday Record Reviews – Second Weekend
Dirty Sprite 2 (Record Review)

Oct. 9, 2015

Live Shots
X Games: Nicki Minaj

June 12, 2015


HyunA, SXSW Music 2014, Lady Gaga, Missy Elliot, Psy

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle