What is Gangnam Style? Psy brings K-Pop to the UK

Sep 21, 2012

South Korean rapper and his invisible horse riding dance go viral but can he reach UK number one?

SOUTH KOREAN rapper Psy has done what many 'K-Pop' bands have failed to do – become a global success. He has been on the music scene in South Korea for more than a decade, but has now found international fame after posting his latest music video Gangnam Style on YouTube.

More than 225 million people have watched the video, which shows Psy sporting sunglasses and doing an "invisible horse riding dance" through a series of weird settings - including a horse stable, a sauna and a tourist bus. Even Tom Cruise, Robbie Williams and Nelly Furtado have declared their love of Gangnam Style and Britney Spears has been copying Psy's dance moves live on television.

But who is Psy and what is Gangnam Style all about?

'Gangnam', meaning 'south of the river' in Korean, is a wealthy area in the city of Seoul. 'Gangnam Style' is a newly coined term for the lavish lifestyle associated with the trendsetters living in the district.

Psy appears to be singing about a beautiful girl. Gangnam Style is sung in Korean, except for one phrase: "Sexy lady”. When translated into English, lyrics include: "A classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee, a girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes" and "I'm a guy… who has bulging ideas rather than muscles". But Psy himself has said the "verbal is not that important”. It is apparently the dance moves and the sound and look of the video, which satirises the lush lifestyle seen in Gangnam, that is the "point of the story”.

Park Jae-sang, better known as Psy (short for Psycho), is a singer-songwriter, rapper, dance musician and record producer from South Korea. The 34-year-old made a breakthrough in the Korean's entertainment scene in 2001 with his debut album, PSY... From The Psycho World!

The original video, released in July, has had more than 225 million views on YouTube, making it YouTube's most watched K-Pop video, and several parodies of the video have also gone viral. John Jurgensen, an entertainment reporter for the Wall Street Journal, says it is proof of how traditional media is really monitoring online hits. "To make a song in Korean and make this monster American hit really shows you the power of online videos and media," he said. The famous horse dance moves also probably have a lot to with the video's popularity.

Gangnam Style was 16 in the UK's official midweek chart update on Wednesday but it looks likely to make a quick ascent. The official charts company has told BBC's Newsbeat that it could become the first ever K-Pop track to hit number one in UK chart history. Psy has been nominated for best video at the MTV Europe music awards and is currently at the top of the iTunes Music chart in the US. "If I have a number one in the UK, I promise I'll be there as soon as I can," Psy has said. "I'll bring Gangnam Style."

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

i love psy and all... but i dont want kpop to go global. its going to receive alot of criticism from western fans, although of course i want my favourite bands to be well known...

Don't worry. The way kpop has been made, or manufactured, does not favor an original's rise to the top. They missed him on the side doing his own thing years after getting wise to their controlling methods. And he was just too old to be enrolled in their kpop school anyway. You can't stop an original forever.