In ironic contrast to the consumerist lifestyle that it is allegedly parodying, Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ seems to have taken over the global market. After topping the iTunes download charts in a few countries, the frustratingly catchy Party Rock Anthem-inspired epic jingle is now at the top of the UK singles chart and Billboard’s digital songs chart. As Psy gallops towards global success on his imaginary steed, Gangnam Style still manages to somehow make headlines every day in both international and Korean newspapers.
The song’s popularity and its true meaning might be different or bring differing connotations for each cultural region. As Korean hip-hop pioneer Tiger JK pointed out in a Tweet, for some people and Hollywood, the song’s popularity perhaps stems from the age-old orientalist‘s Asian stereotype; rather than reflecting any genuine interest in Korean musicians or music. According to his Tweet, some white people repeatedly interrupted his performance during a ‘Creators Project’ concert, yelling, ‘Do the horse dance!, Do the horse dance!’ – which upset him and instead inspired him to embark on a verbal dance of R-rated expletives instead. He later apologised for the incident, but remained firm on his stance about the Asian stereotype in Western countries.
However, for most Koreans, Gangnam Style invokes a similar vibe to his first hit song, ‘Bird’; as the song is also famous for its funny, buffoonish dance moves and its quirky lyrics. Koreans suffered from something of a cultural shock at his debut in 2001; he seemed so comfortable with his unconventional look, even though K-pop was already dominated by suspiciously good-looking idol stars at the time.
It may be hard for most Koreans to see his success other than through this prism; and most likely see Psy’s international audience as going through a similar experience to them when his first album came out. As the Twitter reactions below show, many Koreans don’t seem to see view the ‘Gangnam Stlye Sensation’ in the same race-orientated terms as Tiger JK. Rather, the majority are simply proud of him for topping the global pop charts, even if a lot of people do find that a bit hard to believe.
Of course, if (like us), you feel you’ve had your fair share of Gangnam Style, you might be interested in the below version, where the music has been edited out and replaced with ambient sound effects. Without the actual song, it’s just the bizarre tale of a lonely madman, galloping round Seoul on an invisible horse, shouting in sunglasses and a dinner jacket. (HT to the Grand Narrative).
Psy charts number two on the Billboard…Will he make it to the number one?
Psy’s Gangnam Style has hit the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
According to Billboard magazine, Psy’s Gangnam Style ‘galloped to number two on the Hot 100 charts’ on the 26th September, whilst Maroon 5’s ‘One More Night’ remained at number one.
The magazine said ‘Gangnam Style skyrocketed from number 64 to 11, and jumped to number two, thanks to the music video and the Korean rapper’s signature horse dance.’
It also explained, ‘Gangnam Style is rising to the top on the back of the highest digital points among the hot 100 songs.’
Meanwhile, Psy promised to ‘perform the song topless’ if the song hits number one on the chart.
Comments from Twitter:
Who Cares? @neoscrum:
Our so-called ‘music’ critic says that Gangnam Style’s rise on the Billboard charts is our ‘greatest cultural achievement since the establishment of the Republic of Korea.’ A pitiful culture indeed.
● 파 ● 란 ● 연 ● 필 ● @blu_pn:
Psy was a great musician before he ever appeared on the Billboard charts. While Psy’s commercial success is a cause for news attention, some ridiculous articles seem to be reevaluating Psy’s ability just because he became famous worldwide. Since when was Billboard a measure of a musician’s artistic ability?
공지영 @congjee (Korean Author):
Congrats! Congrats! RT @ecoriver: Psy’s Gangnam style became number one on the Billboard charts as of 1:00 a.m. Korea time. Champion.. http://dw.am/L1IABp
Uncle Bico @UncleBico:
If Psy makes it to number one, I really hope we don’t start seeing books with titles like ‘Think Like Psy’, ‘Creative Marketing Like Gangnam Style’, ‘Working Your Pants Off Like Psy’, or ‘Gangbuk Boy Meets Gangnam Girl’. [Note: ‘Gangnam’ is the area south of the Han river in Seoul – the name literally translates to ‘south of the river’. ‘Gangbuk’ would roughly equate to ‘north of the river’].
Hyunjoon Shin. @shinhyunjoon_ [Korean Actor]:
Psy is awesome! Go for number one! Good luck! Hwai-ting!
박수민 / Soo Min Park @minist:
Psy’s Korean singing rises to number three in the UK and number two on Billboard. When all the Korean girl bands go to perform in America, here’s a striking piece of advice to them from all the famous American label promoters: please don’t sing in English. They said that the moment the singers start singing in English the fantasy is ruined at once.
Barry Lee @barry_lee:
COFFEE TOUR | 한장섭 @CoffeeTour:
(Breaking News) Psy! In the UK, an even more difficult market than the US Billboard charts, makes it to number one! The world has gone crazy. To think that this has happened within my lifetime! ke ke http://bbc.in/bj8LBm
박성준 mNine @MtotheNine:
Everything has gone crazy, big brother Psy makes it to number 11 on the Billboard 100 ke ke ke
Yongmin Kim @kym7224:
Thanks to Psy, it looks like I will be able to see an all-Korean song hit the top 10 on Billboard chart before I die, by next week. OMG
복음지기 김세원 @kmdonnie:
Oppan~ Gangnam Style ~~ Psy is just great, a Korean singer whose song rises to number eleven, not on the Billboard K-pop chart but on the main charts! I was deeply touched when ‘Gangnam Style’ came out on Bae Cheol Soo’s ‘Music Camp’!!! http://yfrog.com/g0c6mstj
윤덕 공격대 대구지부 공대장 @l_lanziee:
It was always one of Bae Cheol-soo’s dreams to introduce a Korean song that had made it into the top 20 on the Billboard charts, looks like Psy made that happen for him.
김원종 Deegie @deegie_Trabler:
I personally think this commercial is really effective. ‘Our aim is to conquer the South Chosun [Korea] hip-hop and pop charts and the American imperialist agent Billboard chart, just like Psy did.’ [parodying North Korea’s frequent phrases] They have actually put this commercial on the website, ‘Hip-Hop Playa’ [online music magazine] ke ke ke
드립연금술사 꾼 @_ggun:
When Psy was caught smoking marijuana [they said] ‘that saekki isn’t right in his mind~’ When Psy was caught skipping his military work [they said] ‘that saekki isn’t right in his mind~’ When Psy achieved the 2nd place on the Billboard [they say] ‘I’m proud to see a Korean do it!!’ When he does wrong they call him a saekki, and when he does great they cheer for the Korean people…
Before we delight in Psy’s entry to the top ranks on the Billboard chart, we need to think hard as to why we don’t have a pop chart that deserves public confidence.
I used to write down the Korean pronunciation of an English song (Honesty by Billy Joel, as I remember it now) on the Billboard chart and imagine Korean songs reaching the first place in the chart. Now I feel that dream might just come true thanks to Psy… I’m going to listen to the songs of that time again. Thank you~ Psy
From Psy’s press conference upon his arrival. ‘I still feel dumbfounded, as if I’m on the Truman Show. To be honest I do get nervous during TV shows in the US, but I gain strength from all your cheers and support. I will perform topless on the street if my song becomes no.1 on the chart.’
Sports stars get exempted from their military duties according to their achievements in international competitions. Then could the same be applied to an entertainer who raised our country’s position to a higher level? What if there appears another singer who achieves no.1 on the Billboard chart, and hasn’t done his military service yet?
DBSK in the first place in China vs. Psy in the first place in the US… Why? There’s a lot of noise on mass media about Psy’s song ‘Gangnam Style’ hitting the 2nd place on the Billboard chart in America. It’s surely something to be proud of. But I feel suspicious and curious about such response, which is almost like celebrating a national achievement. This…
Singing Psy, ‘2012 Festival of World Street Dance’ is held. Psy’s ‘Oppan Gangnam Style’ ranks no.2 on the Billboard chart. Let’s make him topless in Jang-an dong.
JO KWON @2AMkwon (K-pop idol, 2AM) :
Psy’s no.2 on the Billboard is really awesome… He’s writing a new history..!! It might as well get to no.1 soon!
문재인캠프 @mooncamp1219 (Democratic United Party’s Presidential Candidate) :
Congratulations to Psy on his song ranking no.11 on the Billboard chart. I hope you achieve even higher.