'Gangnam Style' enters viral history books
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 21:09
It is all over the internet, has been on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” celebrities such as Britney Spears and Katy Perry have showed interest, and the video has reached over 100 million views on YouTube. It is “Gangnam Style,” and it has taken the world over in a unique fashion.
“Gangnam Style” is South Korean rapper PSY’s (pronounced “sigh”) latest single. Released in July this year, it was another one of PSY’s jokester videos, merely poking fun at how ironic the character in the video is compared to the lyrics. The song is basically about a man calling himself Gangnam style when he is clearly not. Gagnam is a location in South Korea best compared to Beverly Hills, Calif. PSY is a far cry from other South Korean pop stars who have reached recent international success. He is barely on the Hallyu, or Korean, wave that includes artists such as Girls’ Generation who were in the United States earlier this year promoting their album on shows like David Letterman, Wonder Girls who are no strangers to the U.S. with a movie on Teen Nick and a new collaboration with Akon, and 2NE1 that currently have an Adidas commercial running in America.
But PSY has something different to bring to the table. Instead of a young, blond-haired guy with washboard abs, like most male artists in South Korea, he is a 34-year-old, chubby comic artist. Why does his video have so many views? Because humor is universal. Despite the language barrier, there is an offbeat zaniness that needs no translation. For this reason, he has become a success.
Many Korean pop artists blend English throughout their songs to attract international listeners. PSY does this in the most important part of his song, the chorus. “Hey! Sexy lady!” is said multiple times throughout the song, drilling it into the viewer’s head. His video has a catchy beat as well and a dance that is a lot simpler than most dances in K-pop videos. He does not try to be artsy and theatric; instead, he is just PSY, and that is entertaining enough. This is one of the main reasons he has done so well.
The video itself has many hilarious and bizarre aspects to it. It begins with PSY daydreaming of a beautiful woman fanning him while in reality he is sitting in a lawn chair in the middle of a playground. Then he appears, nicely dressed, in the middle of a horse stable performing his “horse dance.” The video continues to follow him through different places including a sauna, tour bus and merry-go-round. One memorable scene takes place in an elevator. When the doors open, PSY is lying on the ground rapping while a man is standing over him pelvic thrusting.
PSY had no idea his video would become so popular. When asked about it with in an interview with VH1, he said, “Not this far, I thought it would be like this in Korea, not over here.”
Ascending into viral status has its perks. Now he has seen how much support he has all over the world. Many parodies have popped up on YouTube over the past couple of weeks from Singapore to Chicago. The Chicago parody, titled “Gangnam Style Parody (Oppa Chicago Style)” has over 1 million views and was released three weeks ago.
Along with the massive support PSY has even come to America. On the jumbotron at Dodgers Stadium, baseball fans are seen doing the “horse dance,” then eventually it lands on PSY. He shyly smiles and waves to the fans, then busts out into his dance jumping around and smiling. He has even been signed onto Schoolboy Records, a roster shared with the famous Justin Bieber along with making it onto the Video Music Awards this past week.
“He is just so funny and that song is addictive,” says engineering student Becky Daniels. She had no idea what K-pop was before this video, and now she is open to giving it a shot, saying, “If this is how most K-pop sounds, then I’m on board.” Hopefully PSY fights off the viral curse and is able to keep producing knockout hits and prove that he truly has Gangnam style.