By John Glynn
Samsung have recently announced that South Korean pop star, Psy, the man responsible for making “Gangnam Style” a worldwide phenomenon; will be the face of Zipel, a line of cutting edge kimchi refrigerators. Psy’s dance craze has taken the world by storm; and the essence of his video is to paint a rather humorous picture of the hyper-consumer culture that is prevalent in Seoul’s Gangnam district. The video climbed to over 100 million views in well under two months — faster than Maroon 5’s “Payphone” and Rebecca Black’s putrid “Friday.”
The video is destined for “cult classic” stardom, it has acquired over 120 million views since it was posted on July 15, and Psy, a.k.a. Park Jae Sung, became the first Korean artist since Rain to receive a VMA invitation (Rain performed at the award show in 2005).
Naturally, being a K-pop styled tune, it transmits a rather infectious beat, something which is typical of K-pop in general. If you close your eyes and really focus, it’s pretty easy to imagine Psy riding his “horse” towards a Samsung refrigerator and producing some delectable looking kimchi. Lee Seung Gi was one of the first mega-stars to break the mold and start endorsing kitchen appliances. He’s been a Samsung ambassador for over four years, and now Psy has been recruited to add more global appeal.
Psy’s rise to superstardom is nothing short of remarkable. Just recently, Britney Spears received a dance lesson from none other than Psy himself on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The Korean rapper reassured Spears after DeGeneres expressed concerns over the singer’s form-fitting dress. Ellen was afraid that Britney’s attire wouldn’t allow her to gallop properly. There’s a sentence I never thought I would type. And, rather hilariously, DeGeneres looked to be in complete awe as Psy then proceeded to teach her the dance. Ellen actually forgot to introduce the rapper, this prompted Psy to interject at one point and ask: “Can I introduce myself, and not just dance?” The crowd exploded with laughter, and DeGeneres grinned like a Cheshire cat, responding, “Psy from Korea, we love you!”
Many people have just one question on their mind; what exactly does ‘GANGNAM STYLE’ mean? If you are living in the Seoul area, you probably have quite a good idea.
If you’re living in the Seoul are and you don’t know, there is a chance that you are mentally retarded. Gangnam is an affluent neighborhood in the city of Seoul, it’s mainly where young people go to party and showcase their questionable shuffle-dance techniques. In no uncertain terms, Psy describes the kind of guy he is and the kind of girl that he is attracted to, vividly describing the type of people who occupy Gangnam on a Friday or Saturday night. The chorus is the musical equivalent of the bubonic plague, extremely contagious. Psy declares that he most definitely has Gangnam style (Oppan Gangnam Style). My Korean is elementary at best, but I understand that the rapper is making a personal referral when he uses the word ‘oppa’ — an expression Korean girls use dotingly to address older male friends or their boyfriend. And finally, the dance, what’s the deal with this ridiculous dance? It’s a horse-riding dance, there’s an invisible horse, and we are all invited to ride it. I’m going to try it out in a nightclub when I get back to Ireland, there is a good chance that I will either be escorted from the premises or beaten to a pulp, perhaps both.
Don’t be fooled, behind the flamboyant costumes and amusing dance moves in Psy’s video, there’s a cleverly delivered commentary which focuses on social status in South Korea.