Gangnam Style is a single by South Korean artist PSY. It was released on July 15, 2012. As of this time, it has been viewed more than 559 million times in YouTube. And the Guinness World of Records has recognized it as the YouTube video with the most “Likes”. Incidentally, it is so popular that it beat Justin Bieber on the US iTunes Chart. But why is it so popular?
What is Oppan Gangnam Style?
Oppan or Oppa means Big brother and Gangnam is in reference to the most exclusive Gangnam district of South Korea. PSY relates that the song is in reference to the high class and tasteful living in the Gangnam district. PSY parodies the way people try to pretend to be from the Gangnam district or pretend to be people they are not. The result of such pretense is taken to extremes thru flashy clothes that clash, ridiculous airs and the Oh, so entertaining song and dance number.
Making Sense of the Dance Moves
PSY relates that the chorus dance moves are reminiscent of a man riding a horse. His hands are alternating between holding the reins and then spinning a lasso in the air, accompanied by a sort of horse gallop. Of course, everything is overstated via PSY’s gusto and facial expressions. Other dance elements involve PSY trusting his chest out, arms out and trotting along.
A Message in Madness
The song’s phrase “Oppan Gangnam Style” and “Heeey sexy lady” are catchy. The dance moves are contagious and PSY is just plain outrageous (pardon the rhymes). However, it goes deeper than that. The song is not merely a parody but a bold statement. If you really think about it, a lot of billboard chart toppers are. Case in point is runaway train, black or white, Lady Gaga, and Missy Elliot to name a few. These chart toppers are not merely entertaining it has significance, a message that a lot of people can relate to. But maybe I am over thinking this, maybe there is just the simple pleasure of going all out with what you wear, what you do and how you act.
Simplicity in Horseplay
I did not even need to understand the language to see what PSY was getting at. The dance step itself is simple. The movements of the shoulders, hips, belly hands, are very natural and requires no real coordination. Anybody can do it. More importantly, the more ridiculous you look the better you are at it. That is probably why a lot of politicians, religious leaders, athletes, ambassadors, etc. are not afraid to go Gangnam style.
Gangnam style is a hodgepodge of different entertainment concepts. PSY delivers a music video, comedic performance, addictive dance moves, and then some. In my opinion, there is also the luck factor involved here. Gangnam style was released at the right time when Korean pop culture (K-pop) is at its peak and the music industry is looking for something fresh. At the very least, the lesson here is to let yourself go once in a while.