Gangnam Effect

Annie Hwang, Editor-in-Chief

Where did he come from and why is he riding an imaginary horse down a city street? Furthermore, how is he rocking out in a bathroom stall and getting nearly 200 million views on YouTube at the same time? Korean pop star phenomenon Psy is not your average pop star.

The Gangnam Style music video came out on July 15, 2012, and it became the definition of a viral video. Psy, the 34 year old Korean rapper, admitted that he didn’t think it would ever go viral. In fact, in his own words: “…It never occurred to me that people outside the country would listen to my music.”

But something about this unlikely pop star swept the globe without any language barriers. The song itself only contains few English words – “style” and “hey sexy lady” – yet the unique humor of the video itself seems to be enough for the general audience. The rest of the song is in Korean, describing a man’s desire for a woman from the most affluent city in Korea.

The meaning behind it is simple – he wants a woman with that sophisticated taste, a woman who is able to be prim and posed in the daytime but wild during the nighttime, just like himself. But Psy seems to get his daytime and nighttime mixed up as he wildly dances around the cityscape in his iconic horse-riding dance.

This simple, tacky dance has become a symbol of a party-goer who does not care what others may think. It has become the “new swag.” In an interview, Psy gives simple instructions for anyone who wants to adopt the Gangnam style – “Dress classy, dance cheesy.” No matter how many times you watch the video, you won’t be able to find the secret weapon that made this music video a global rage, because the secret weapon is not really a secret. Every aspect of the music video blares a new kind of “cool” that no other artist thought to bring out into the music scene.

When we think of pop artists, especially K-pop, the same faces and adjectives swim in our minds: Beautiful, pretty, perfect, smooth, sexy. But the world was already getting tired of the same artists year after year- Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Big Bang, One Direction, etc. They all showed that perfect image of a celebrity – one that tried hard to look beautiful or sexy. So when Psy, a rather chubby and short man, got on his invisible horse and galloped his way across a field of women doing yoga, it was a refreshing thing for anyone to see.

Sales have been remarkably high especially in America where people appreciate the value of a true maverick. America has always been about innovators – those who do not follow the crowd but offer something rejuvenating in any profession. Psy’s Gangnam Style has been #1 on iTunes for 27 days now, in a total of 18 different countries.

Portraying neon colors and the latest fashion while still focusing on the “Beverly Hills” of Korea by having dancers dressed in full on “Gangnam style” in the last dance scene, Psy comes off as a rapper who isn’t afraid to be natural, fun and still dominant in the music industry. He has not only made his single a huge hit, but he has also become the official, symbolic bridge between the music industries of Korea and United States.

So what do you say, Keller? Does this call for a Keller-style flash mob?