One idle day weeks into the new year, I opened the Instagram app and saw a video of a dark skinned guy with red hair singing into a hanging mic.
His movements were quirky; I had never seen a “serious” musician moving like that. If Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson thrust their pelvis with sexual intent, Bosom P-Yung was lethargically stabbing air with his crotch like someone with no sex in his past or future. I was intrigued.
Months later, it’s unbelievable that a single-scene video showing an unknown act singing into a mic owned by an obscure music platform based in Ghana has racked up almost 2 million views in just over 2 months. But of course, it has happened. I have seen the video many times myself. I thought the man singing was a star the first time; I still think so.
The brilliance of the video lies in just how Bosom Pyung has managed to perform authenticity, to signpost “realness” while filling up the frame. That he is in on his own joke might be the first indication that he is authentic; he is real enough to enact the awkwardness of the non-stage-managed artist.
As a Nigerian who was bemused by the very Ghanaian success of Patapaa, I understand persons who have mentioned Patapaa in discussions about Bosom but they are different personalities unified by nationality and a lack of pop glitter. Where the ‘One Corner’ man is a purveyor of blissful nonsense, Bosom seems a purposeful deconstructionist of pop music’s careful curation of images. He is aware in a way it was never clear Patapaa was.
Even as ‘Attaa Adwoa’ begins as hesitantly as the man himself, I think it is entirely conceivable that anybody else would dance to it a lot more fluidly than Bosom did. And yet, something about the performance feels stylised, like the man was exaggerating his gestures with a wink. In a world where there are rewards for performative fluency, there should be rewards for performed awkwardness. You think it’s a studio; Bosom makes it his bathroom.
Plus there is something endearing about his super-expressive face. In the first few moments of the video, the shock of his white teeth against the black of his skin and the reddish backdrop as he smiles somehow emphasises the unvarnished nature of the performance. The first time I saw the video, that bit solidified the guy’s greatness in my eyes. It took longer for me to realise that the song itself is remarkable. The subtle anguish of his vocals emerges from by the trap beat, so you perceive both the guy’s pain and the delightful melody enveloping it. When the beat breaks towards the end, I want to start bopping awkwardly — but the song’s owner would beat me handily if it was a contest.
Perhaps it is apt that the song he sings is about heartbreak. You can imagine him as one of the unloved: Picture a group of glossy provenance laughing and asking, who would want to sleep with someone moving like that?
I don’t imagine he has any problems on that front but I have to say that, if it becomes necessary for Bosom P-Yung to change his romantic luck for the better, I’d advise him to keep the act that made him go viral. I’m no love guru but who needs conventional swag when you have fame and a unique style?