Despite his Matrix looking glasses, this guy is not your worst enemy. He is a man of the people… and of horses. He is a South Korean pop-star. This video “Gangam Style” by Park Jaesang or Psy (short for Psycho) is just one dynamic display of the genre K-Pop. Upon first watching the video, I’d imagine most westerners are left with the feeling of “Whhhhhat is this?” It’s sort of a toss up. Is this serious or satirical? Do I laugh? Do I cry? Is it so-wrong or oh-so-right? Regardless, it’s funny. It’s entertaining. And, it’s catchy. Ride on, Psy.
Right now the internet is abuzz with this video – over 49 million hits on YouTube. Some articles, like this one from the Huffington Post label it like it’s South Korea’s attempt to rally with the Euro and American beats that have taken over clubs from South Beach to South Korea. Others like The Atlantic discuss the satire and genius behind the video stating, “Beneath the catchy dance beat and hilarious scenes of Seoul’s poshest neighborhood, there might be a subtle message about wealth, class, and value in South Korean society.” Don’t look at me though for your answer. Like I said, I’m not sure what it is except for hilarious and uplifting with very possible undertones of satire. I’m just not sure, it’s like a perfume you can’t really grasp the whole scent of because some tester somewhere was like, “It needs more peppermint!!” Before you know it, the thing smells like a bottle of Santa Clause on steroids because the peppermint dominates whatever other scents are in the mix. But you like it. This video might have satire. It kind of smells like it, but it’s hard to hone in on with all of the peppermint AKA loud-funny-obnoxiousness involved.
Along with avoiding the country’s mandatory military service, being busted for marijuana, being fined for his first album and having his second album banned, Psy has managed to escape the black hole known as South Korean stardom. It’s that place where most South Korean stars go after they’ve completed their tour of local gameshow appearances. You don’t really see them much after that. Psy has managed to find a universally successful element of some kind that allows him to be successful in South Korea and across the globe, hopefully long term. Even T-Pain got ahold of “Gangam Style” and tweeted about it, only to be retweeted 2,400+ times. So there is genius behind the man in the glasses. He is doing big things. Against all odds he is being embraced, even if it’s not by his government.
The K-Pop revolution doesn’t stop online. The pirate themed bar/restaurant Krazy Hook in Koreatown of Los Angeles, has dedicated the entire place to K-Pop Videos (and pirates). Don’t be surprised if you see more of these, sans pirates, popping up around the country.
One K-Pop group who gained traction even before Psy (hard to imagine a time before him) is the girl-band 2NE1. They’ve attracted substantial crowds in LA and New York. According to The Daily Beast, they’re rumored to be working with will.i.am. This should be interesting.
If that just isn’t enough to get your fix, StereoGum came up with an all start line-up of The 20 Best K-Pop Videos. All I can tell you is, maybe you’ve found a new place to go for when you need to turn-that-frown-upside-down. And for parting thoughts and parody’s sake, let us not forget the Oregon duck:
Also, for those still interested in Gangnam Style, you should see this…