So PSY is coming to Sydney in less than two weeks! Who is PSY you ask??
No doubt you may have heard the words ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’ on the radio, this is one of the memorable lines from the viral YouTube hit “Gangnam Style” by Korean rapper PSY. (author’s note: the other memorable line being ‘Ehhh, sexy lady!’). This song was released on YouTube on 15th July 2012, so that’s just over two-and-a-half months ago and has skyrocketed in its views, at the current count it’s over 350 million views (as I’m typing this I’m thinking, please don’t reach 400 million just yet or this article will be out of date!)
An amazing track record, it reached the coveted 100 million views in just 51 days, sliding in between the 4th place contender Rebecca Black’s “Friday” at 45 days and 5th Justin Bieber’s “Baby” at 56 days. Check out the sweet graph on Social Times.
So in recent years, the "Hallyu Wave" which refers to growing popularity of South Korean entertainment has really swept the world with groups such as Super Junior, Girl’s Generation and Big Bang gaining the avid attention of international fans. Many Asian acts have attempted to break into the US market such as Japan’s Utada Hikaru and Korea’s Wonder Girls and BoA to name a few, yet their catchy tunes mainly entertained their already establish international fanbase rather than gaining some new fans. So what is it about PSY that has captured our hearts and makes us rock to his beat.
Before the domination of PSY, the most viewed Korean pop video was “Gee” by Girl’s Generation, currently at a just over 87 million views. Earlier this year, the popular girl group visited the US and featured on shows US talk shows ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ and ‘Live! With Kelly’ performing their song “The Boys” to lucky fans who were able to access studio tickets. And then they headed off for an appearance in France.
Before we go on, I’d recommend you checking out PSY’s “Gangnam Style”, and if you already have, you know you want to watch it again!
So a whole lot of people (ok, let me rephrase that, a whole lot of people on my facebook) started buzzing about this new Korean song, and my thoughts were ‘oh yeah, I know there’s some guy named PSY running around Korea’ but I soon caved in, might as well keep up-to-date with the times right?
The quirkiness of the video starts from the beginning with the PSY imagining he is being fanned by a beautiful lady as he relaxes in the sunshine. But wait, he’s not at a beach resort, he’s actually in a sandbox in a playground. Hot on the dancefloor, nope, that’s just a tourist bus with some old folks and a disco ball. Unless you understand the language, the lyrics aren’t what catch your attention; it’s all about the awesomeness of the video. One of the big factors in the popularity of this video.
For those wanting to know more, the question that pops into mind is “what in the world is Gangnam Style?” In short, PSY’s song is a parody of the upperclass Korean suburb Gangnam, PSY himself has mentioned that it can be compared to what Beverly Hills is in the US.
According to the Associated Press, it is South Korea’s most coveted address even though only two generations it was mainly just farmland and drainage ditches. Gangnam, literally ‘south of the river’ is where the development boom of the 1970s occurred whereas the north of the Han River has traditionally housed the seats of government power and the families of the royal palaces. As the price of high-rise apartments skyrocketed, the wealth of the district attracted trendy boutiques and clubs as well as prestigious prep and private schools. So where the love/hate relationship occurs is the fact that those who live in Gangnam became wealthy due to their location rather than the traditional hardwork and sacrifice.
The lyrics ’Oppa Gangnam Syle’ translates to ‘Your boyfriend/older brother is from Gangnam. The song itself speaks of the perfect girl who knows when to be refined and when to be wild. PSY also invited singer HyunA from girl group 4minute to sing what is known as the female version of the song, “Oppa Just My Style”. HyunA is the girl who PSY spies coming off the train in his video and she sings her version in a very girlish voice, a big contrast to her usual style.
PSY himself has recently signed a deal with Schoolboy Records (who have a business relationship with Universal Music Group), managed by Scooter Braun a.k.a. Justin Bieber’s manager! After hanging out together for a few days, they released a video announcement via youtube about the deal while sharing a bottle of soju (Korean rice wine). With not only top Korean acts and other Western acts (such as Josh Groban and Katy Perry with T-Pain leading the rush) endorsing their love for his song and pushing the boundaries of its popularity further, PSY has now made appearances on the Ellen Show, taught the dance to Britney Spears and was the surprise guest at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards!
PSY on the Ellen show
A little about PSY, his Korean name is Park Jae-Sang (박재상) and he picked up his stage name from his first album PSY from the PSYcho World! (2001). He then had to pay a fine regarding the album due to its inappropriate content. Even his second offering Ssa 2 was banned in Korea to those under nineteen. Encouraged by his wife, he joined the record label YG Entertainment in 2010 (regarded as one of the big three in Korea) as his current label was facing financial stress. He released his fifth album with them before the success of Gangnam Style. The talented performer has also come under fire in his country when it was found he did not serve his full term for Korea’s mandatory military service and was re-drafted for a second term not long after the birth of his twin sons but since then has voiced that the experience taught him a lot. Yes, it’s according to Wikipedia, but we all love Wikipedia don’t we?
So right now, we’re waiting to see whether PSY’s hit song, already number one in several countries is going to top the Billboard 100 Chart, currently dominated by Maroon 5’s “One More Night”. According to Financial Review, it’s been almost half a century since the only other Asian act to hit number one in the US, “Sukiyaki by” Japan’s Ryu Sakamoto, which is now a karaoke staple. PSY is definitely in the running to be its successor.
The search for “Gangnam Style” via Google
PSY’s viral hit has piqued the interest of many music fans who are now discovering the wonders of K-pop. His popularity has been an amazing success for a Korean star and I’m sure it will lead to a renewed interest into Korean music for both new and old fans. And now that I’m on the Gangnam Style bandwagon, I subconsciously start doing the horse dance whenever the song comes on!
Want some more PSY? Check out this cool video he made to encourage the Korean team at the London Olympics 2012.
|15 July||"Gangnam Style" released on youtube|
|14 August||Gangnam Style officially re-released on August 14, 2012, as "Oppa Is Just My Style" featuring Hyuna of 4minute|
|21 August||"Gangnam Style" officially charted number 1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, a first for any South Korean artist|
|01 September||Overtook SNSD's "Gee" to become the most viewed K-Pop video on YouTube.|
|03 September||Scooter Braun announces that PSY is signed with Schoolboy Records|
|04 September||100 million views (51 days)|
|06 September||Special guest appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards|
|10 September||Appearance on 'The Ellen Show' to teach the dance to Britney Spears|
|13 September||Most liked video on youtube (beating LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"at over 1.6 million likes)|
|14 September||Appearance on NBC's morning program 'Today'|
|18 September||200 million views|
|20 September||Received official recognition from Guinness World Records for being the 'most liked video' on youtube|
|22 September||Appearance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival|
|28 September||300 million views|
PSY's tweets at each youtube milestone.