PSY asked for forgiveness, and in the spirit of the holidays, establishment Washington appears to have forgiven him back.
After apologizing on Friday for participating in a pair of President George W. Bush-era protests that his critics breathlessly characterized as “anti-American,” the “Gangnam Style” sensation stopped by the nation’s capital as scheduled last night to perform at the 31st annual Christmas in Washington concert.
President Barack Obama handled the controversy carefully, opting not to mention the South Korean megastar by name. According to reports, the elite D.C. audience was hardly so reticent.
The full concert, hosted by Conan O’Brien and also featuring Diana Ross and Demi Lovato, will air at 8 p.m. EST/PST on December 21 on TNT. PSY, who showed up in a red-sequined sweater, reportedly started crooning lines from Nat King Cole-sung classic “The Christmas Song” before switching, of course, into his YouTube-record-smashing hit, rejiggered for the occasion as “Christmas Style.”
USA Today reports, “The crowd, full of Washington VIPs including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, ate it up with looks of both amusement and bewilderment.” The Washington Post clarifies: “It’s a huge room, and every nook of it fills with giddy, gushy, holly, jolly applause. Psy throws a thumbs-up and silently mouths a ‘Thank you.'”
It’s too early to tell whether the positive reception to PSY’s performance marks only a fleeting Christmas truce or a lasting ceasefire in the culture wars. Obama, in a short speech after the concert, name-checked Diana Ross and called Conan O’Brien “the tallest elf I’ve ever seen,” but referred to Lovato and PSY only as “all the other talented folks on this stage.”