“Hey, sexy lady. Op-op-op-oppan Gangnam style.” With over 160 million views on Youtube, there’s absolutely no denying that “Gangnam style” by South Korean singer Psy has become an international sensation.
I was in my friend’s car when I first heard this ridiculous song. At that point in time, I didn’t even know that it was a new song. My first thoughts were “this is weird.” Fast-forward a few weeks. My friend pulled up the music video for “Gangnam Style” and told me to watch it. After watching it without blinking once, I thought, “this is really crazy.” Fast-forward another few weeks. I saw the video several times on the big screen at Iron Age, a Korean BBQ restaurant in Rockville, Md. This time, I was thinking, “this is insanely catchy.”
As a former K-pop addict, colorfully dressed Asians dancing odd choreography to strangely addicting beats are not completely foreign to me. When I first watched “Gangnam Style,” I thought it was one of those strange songs that wouldn’t receive too much publicity and was I wrong.
“Gangnam Style” is a combination of silly and borderline weird and that’s what makes it so great. Anyone who has seen the video probably knows what I’m talking about. Random scene locations are featured such as an amusement park, tennis courts and a subway station. Unforgettable people, such as the cute little boy with mad dance skills, the guy in the elevator and of course, Psy. And just look at the signature dance move, “the horse-riding dance.” Who thinks of stuff like that? Then again, Psy did mention on the Ellen DeGeneres Show that his goal was to “dress classy, dance cheesy.” Even people who dislike the song admit that it’s catchy.
I cannot believe how immensely popular this has become, especially in America. I was thoroughly excited and hyped when I first heard “Gangnam Style” on the radio 99.7FM. As a Korean American, I have been exposed to both western and eastern modern and pop cultures. Usually the Eastern hemisphere of the world “borrows” from the Western hemisphere, especially in the music industry. For once, it was refreshing to see that a song from the Eastern part of the world was able to successfully overcome barriers.
There had been other Korean artists who had made their debut in the States including the Wonder Girls, who were the opening act to the Jonas Brothers and BoA, who released an American single “Eat you Up” back in 2008. In general, these debuts were really only known to the already-established American fan base. “Gangnam Style” was never intended to go viral overseas, and yet, it was able to gain popularity and recognition that the other artists sought. When the Wall Street Journal asked Psy if he expected his song to become this popular, he answered, “it never occurred to me that people outside the country would listen to my music. I didn’t even have overseas fans.”
Although “Gangnam Style” is not necessarily quality music, it’s definitely entertaining. And that is exactly its purpose. Nothing more and nothing less. Just fun.