Courtesy of MTV Press
A guy who works at Starbucks on High Street wrote “Gangnam Style” in Korean on my grande iced vanilla latte. I laughed and he laughed too, because we both know what Gangnam Style is.
“Gangnam Style” is a song by South Korean rapper PSY. The music video has had more than 130 million hits on YouTube since it was released July 15. The song and the music video have fascinated not only K-pop, or Korean pop, fans, but also Americans who have never heard Korean music before. It was No. 1 on iTunes’ Top Music Videos chart and No. 14 on Top Single chart on Saturday.
Even though non-Korean speakers cannot understand the lyrics at all, most viewers laugh after seeing the comical choreography, and they like it. PSY demonstrates a move called the horse-riding dance, which is like riding an invisible horse on a saddle. The song, with the comical horse-riding dance and the electro beat and repetitive lyrics, helped launch PSY into global stardom.
The highly addictive video has been a YouTube sensation, gaining tremendous media and public attention around the world, especially in the United States. PSY performed at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Thursday, and recently signed with music executive Scooter Braun, who also signed Justin Beiber.
“Gangnam Style” has also been featured on CNN International and “TIME.” Also, Jay Leno parodied Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s entrance into the Republican National Convention with “Gangnam Style” in “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Aug. 31. PSY was on VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live” to talk about his song and to teach the horse-riding dance on Aug. 22.
Some American celebrities like Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and T-Pain tweeted about PSY and his song “Gangnam Style” on their Twitter and followed him.
The song “Gangnam Style” is based on the Gangnam district, a luxurious and trendy area of Seoul, which is a capital of South Korea. It is associated with an elegant lifestyle. In an interview, PSY said Gangnam is like Beverly Hills in the States. The repetitive lyric, “Oppan Gangnam style,” means “Your big brother is Gangnam style.”
I had never imagined I would hear a Korean song in the United States, even in Columbus. However, after “Gangnam Style” went viral, I heard this song playing next door. As a Korean, I’m proud of the song’s popularity, and I believe PSY’s hilarious song introduces K-pop and Korea more to many people around the world.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 10, 2012
The headline in an earlier version of this story said “PSY’s ‘Gangham Style’ introduces Korean culture to US.” It
is Gangnam Style.