I like to think I am pretty on top of my game as far as pop culture is concerned.
If anything becomes popular, it usually does not take me more than a day or two to hear about it. I’m pretty savvy with keeping up on the trends, whether it being checking other blogs, or Twitter, or whatnot — I know things. very rarely does a worldwide sensation sneak up on me unawares.
Until Gangnam Style, that is.
I really don’t know what the heck happened. What I do know is that it was somewhere around October, and a Korean song was playing at the bar I was at. In my head, I was thinking, “What the hell is this and why is it playing right now?”
I didn’t understand one word of it until the song came to the part where it actually says “Gangnam Style.” That’s when I understood, and I said aloud, “Oh, so that’s Gangnam Style.”
I had heard the term before, but I didn’t even know what it was. So I went home and did a little bit of research. I discovered that the song was released on July 15 of this year, and it wasn’t until mid-August when it started making waves in the U.S., when popular musicians started tweeting about it.
And then it just blew up. The song has more than 730 million views on YouTube, making it the site’s second watched video of all time. Sadly, the most watched video is Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Sigh.
The song, which falls under the category of K-pop — short for Korean pop — is by a Korean artist named Psy.
So after conducting the research, I started to wonder why this song was so popular. Things become popular for many different reasons.
For one, maybe the song is so bad that’s it’s good. See: Rebecca Black.
Or perhaps it’s just really, really, really catchy. See: Carly Rae Jepsen.
Perhaps they appeal to a very specific demographic: See: One Direction and Justin Bieber.
I sat, and I thought, and I thought some more, and I wondered — which category did Gangnam Style fall under? And to be honest, more than a month later, I still hadn’t figured it out.
So a couple of days ago, for some reason, I was inspired to watch the music video again. So I did.
And then, somewhere around midway through this music video — it struck me. Finally, after weeks of deliberation I realized why it was so popular. It wasn’t because it had an overly catchy hook like “Call Me, Maybe,” or because it was a trainwreck like Rebecca Black.
This song and music video became so immensely popular… because it’s good.
Just listen to it again. Sure, you can’t understand a word that the dude is saying, but then it gets to the hook. And it’s just mesmerizing It makes you want to get up and dance. Better yet, it makes you want to be in the music video so you can dance with him. It just looks like he’s having such a good time.
I mean, this isn’t some teen bop artist who lucked him or herself into a #1 hit. This is a 34-year-old established Korean artist. He’s been in the biz for about 15 years. The guy has paid his dues.
His experience is evident in the video too. He doesn’t strike some cheesy pose, he doesn’t try to dress like a diva, he puts on a serious face and he presents his material like he means it. I mean, the dude dances in freaking cargo shorts. How awesome is that?!
And who knows what the lyrics are saying. Maybe they are dumb and childish. But the brilliance of it is we don’t know, and I am not going to look it up anytime soon, so that means I will never know.
Think about it some more. How many people have you heard actually shitting on this song? Not many. But people did shit on Carly Rae Jepsen, whether they liked the song or not. People did, and continue to, shit on Justin Bieber and One Direction. But nobody is shitting on Psy. And that’s because no one wants to since he is legit.
There is so much worse music in the world than this. The aforementioned Justin Bieber. Lil’ Wayne. Nicki Minaj. Miley Cyrus. Trust me — there is room in this world for Psy. There’s plenty of room.
I for one am glad that this song has found success not only in the U.S., but worldwide. It’s deserved.
And now that the weekend is approaching, I truly hope that whatever bar I am in will play it again. And this time, I will not be questioning it.