CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — South Korean rapper PSY was welcomed to Harvard University on Thursday night by hundreds of screaming and shouting students and fans, as the "Gangnam Style" star participated in a conversation inside an ornate church dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in World War I.
PSY began addressing students and faculty by noting that his presence at the Ivy League school "is so weird."
He recalled spending four years studying management at Boston University while marveling at Harvard from afar. He joked about his academic performance while at school in Boston, saying he was known by a nickname of WWF — which, he said, stands for withdrawal, withdrawal, failure.
The pop star, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, also joked that he's heard that he is the first person to make a speech at Harvard without a written script.
Harvard professor of Korean History Carter Eckert said the discussion was looking at PSY as a modern global digital culture phenomenon.
PSY cracked jokes throughout this speech and said he was very shocked as his "Gangnam Style" video went viral. He said he was overwhelmed by its success and doesn't realistically expect to replicate the feat.
"Gangnam Style" was YouTube's most-viewed video with more than 1.5 billion views, and his new single, "Gentleman" has more than 300 million views.
"Gangnam style was not normal. Gangnam was not standard ... that was an accident and accidents don't happen often," he said.
"I gotta be humble, I gotta be humble, I know I gotta be humble because this does not happen to everybody — especially for Asian artists. They tried a lot knocking the door to the U.S. market, but it didn't happen," PSY said.
"I dreamed about it, but I didn't dream that was me because, as you see, I have a very special body shape," he said as his apparent reference to his stocky figure drew laughter from students and faculty.
PSY said he's tried to figure out why he was able to break into coveted global markets after other Asian artists failed to gain traction.
"There should be a specific reason why people chose me," PSY said. "They didn't choose me because I'm handsome, they didn't choose me because I'm muscular ... the reason why they chose me (is) because I have fun with the music, with the dance, with the video."
PSY wondered aloud why American TV news shows start so early, joking that he has had a brutal experiences waking up early for rehearsal for appearances on morning news shows.
He also recalled joining Madonna for rehearsal, saying he was surprised when she told him that he can touch her body anywhere while they were on stage.
"I was, like — without hesitating — I was asking her 'Really!'" PSY said, provoking prolonged laughter from the audience.
"I cannot say I've been the best, but I can say I've done my best for 13 years" as a musician, he said.