By Frisco Rosso
Ok, what the hell is going on?
The world is apparently not as we knew it since K-pop artist PSY entered the global consciousness with his off the wall track Gangnam Style. The song, taken from his sixth album, has been breaking records and causing heads to hit against walls repeatedly in equal measure, Once again, the world has become enthralled with infectious ridiculousness that has, for a short while, sidelined the “aspire to be like me” undercurrent flowing through Western pop music.
Our man PSY trudged into the UK’s top forty a couple of weeks ago at the not too shabby level of No 37, considering his K-pop credentials, and is now at the dizzying height of No 1. He’s even managed to shove Hall of Fame by The Script to No. 2 – poetic justice for those lip-wobbling wallies, frankly. Flo Rida has also been shoved down to No 3 with the aptly named I Cry. At this point, I’d like to say, I smirk and perhaps snigger a bit.
Gangnam Style has also thankfully knocked Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe off the No 1 position on the YouTube Top 100 Music Videos. It’s currently the most liked YouTube video, with 3.3 million likes and over 343.5 million views and counting, while peaking at an average of 9 million views per day. Follow that!
Whether this was all carefully planned along the same lines as Los del Rio’s Macarena or LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem is neither here nor there, but the same sense of personal send-up maligned through bad taste is evident. Is it a good song? No of course not, it’s completely and utterly rubbish (although the video is very funny to watch), just like most of the world’s most successful pop songs that you curiously find yourself gyrating to after a few too many at a wedding or party. But there is more at work in Gangnam Style than meets the eye.
The Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, is the hub of burgeoning young wealth. For the last 30 years development and investment in the area has enabled young money to create perhaps the most affluent and influential district in South Korea. Thus, a new class has emerged that promotes wealth, status and style beyond anything else. Sound familiar?
Whichever way you look at it, Gangnam Style is a hilarious piss-take of power-money-fame promoters, posers and wannabes, which goes someway to explaining the song’s mass appeal, coupled with dance moves that any guy can probably pull off.
Could it be that the Western and associated audiences are toying with the idea of shifting towards engagement with mild idiocy in order to have a good time, rather than continually bowing to our equivalent of “Gangnam style” that has permeated the charts for the last 20 or so years? Probably not, after all. Taking oneself too seriously and demonstrating it at every opportunity sells – just ask anyone who pedals R&B for a living. But PSY has provided a healthy reminder that what popular culture encourages the masses to try and ascend to is generally not worth reaching for at all.
He’s also opened the K-pop floodgates and exposed a genre that has largely been ignored until now. Whether K-Pop will endure in Western markets remains to be seen, but it should certainly be given the opportunity to become a welcome alternative, as long as we remember there’s more to the genre than one crazy horse-riding man.
As an aside, I’d just like to point out that PSY quite possibly took some inspiration from Will McKenzie of The Inbetweeners who pulled off some startlingly similar moves in the movie last year. Credit where credit is due.
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.