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PSY - Gangnam Style: K-pop viral video and internet meme

Updated on September 26, 2012

PSY's Gangnam Style is a lethal cocktail of horse riding dance moves, eccentric fashion, hot Asian girls, celebrity endorsement, front page tabloid coverage, TV show appearances, symbolism, shock appeal and catchy K-pop music that gets feet moving from the word go.

The music video was released in July 2012 and gradually began attracting views because of its catchy K-pop tune and dance moves. Currently, the video has been viewed nearly 300 million times – a figure approximately 3 times more than the combined population of UK and Australia, and increasing by the second.

Gangnam Style has become an internet meme and the most watch video on YouTube ever. Let's find out why the world is obsessed with Park Jae-Sang aka PSY's Gangnam Style. Scroll down to watch the full original video.

Gangnam Style has been embraced by celebrities and mass media

International celebrities like Katy Perry, Neetzan Zimmerman, Robbie Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Cruise, Nelly Furtado, T-Pain, William Gibson and Maroon 5 have either shared the video via social media or given positive reviews on it.

After the video went viral, PSY appeared on international TV shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Saturday Night Live. Britney Spears learnt the horse riding dance move from PSY on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The video has also been covered by most tabloids and newspapers around the world, including MailOnline, NYTimes and Huffington Post. It has topped iTunes charts in more than 30 countries and has entered the Guinness World Records for its unprecedented popularity.

Many parodies and reaction videos of Gangnam Style have littered the web. There is little more an artist could ask for when it comes to organic publicity.

Riding an invisible horse: Never been done before

Throughout the video, PSY repetitively does a dance routine which imitates the act of riding a horse. This is unique because it has never been done before and possible not the move first-time viewers would expect while watching a K-pop video.

PSY has taken the dance routine from being unique to being appealing by adding layers of sensuality and style, things that go hand in hand while attempting to captivate an audience. So much so, that Gangnam Style by itself has been classified as a new meme, just like the viral trends of Horsemanning and Owling. The only difference being, that Gangnam Style has garnered way more attention overnight as compared to what other memes have been able to do over years.


Asian girls in Gangnam Style

To the delight of male audiences, Gangnam Style features a number of petite and beautiful Asian women pulling off dance moves in teeny tiny shorts. The girls are seen exercising, dancing and pulling off the horse dance routine at random places including amusement parks, horse stables, basement car parks, subway train stations and nightclubs.

Playing on sensuality and sexuality is considered to be a safe bet when it comes to marketing and promotion. With Asian girls dancing around in hot pants, short dresses, miniskirts and other fashionably hot pieces, the Gangnam Style video certainly ticks this box.

PSY's confidence levels are through the roof

One of the most striking elements of the Gangnam Style video is Park Jae-Sang's body language. Not even for a single second do his weird moves actually look weird, as they have been pulled off with soaring confidence levels.

With Gangnam Style, PSY has exposed himself to worldwide audiences and the chance of being ridiculed and made fun of. With raging levels of apparent masculinity, PSY pulls off intricate dance moves including ones that demand him to have his bum face the camera in slow motion.

Catchy tune, innovative choreography and memorable lyrics

Staying true to the essence of the K-pop genre, Gangnam Style is a track that literally invites someone sitting on a chair to get up and dance. The choreography is very innovative. PSY and his dancers are shown sidestepping, jumping in spurts and riding an invisible horse in the video.

It has been reported that fitness centers in US and around the world are choreographing special workout routines around this track because of its catchy beat. Another reason that this viral video has become a global hit in spite of being sung in Korean is because the phrase 'Hey, sexy lady' laces the track prominently.

Shock appeal and wow factor: Location, color, fashion and more

Along with background dancers, PSY is shown oscillating between random locations including a tennis court, carousel in amusement park, fitness centre, horse stable, garage, parking lot, skyscraper, bridge, sauna bath, bus with disco balls and an industrial garage. These unusual settings increase the recall value of the video.

Bright yellow suit, light blue blazer jacket, pink pants on a guy, fluorescent orange socks, jet black mafia-like suit, bright green shorts and purple pants are not the kind of clothes a guy wears. The eccentric and high end fashion statement adds to the shock appeal of the video.


Gangnam Style is replete with symbolism and satire

According to the views expressed by international media and PSY himself, Gangnam Style is a satirical take on the extremely rich, pseudo luxurious lifestyle of people living in the posh Gangnam district of Seoul in South Korea.

Many visual and cultural references have been made to the wastefully luxurious life in Gangnam such as excessive indulgence in sauna baths, drinking overly expensive coffee, girls wearing outfits with neon saturated colors, putting on sunglasses perennially both indoors or outdoors and men seen in plastic-like baby pink, lemon yellow and pale blue suits.

A blogger on Yahoo! opines on the satirical symbolism after taking a close look at the lyrics of this song and mentions that the paper trash flying on PSY's face refer to the fakeness of materialistic culture of Gangnam.

The second stanza of the song talks about how Gangnam is full of girls who know how to be sophisticated during the day and wild at night. In the third stanza, PSY goes on to say that he is the kind of guy who would gulp down his coffee before it gets too cold only because the coffee is way too expensive. The visual narrative of this viral video is said to be rife with such symbolism – attracting analysis and commentary from experts and from the everyday music fan.

Cashing in on the growing popularity of the K-pop genre

The K-pop genre is said to have come into origin in the early 1990s. It is a version of pop music with a Korean twist that includes heavy influences from R & B, Hip hop and Electronic music. K-pop is said to have started crossing the barriers of language and became widely popular after the emergence of social networks and increased internet usage around the world.

Born Park Jae Sung, PSY is one of the many popular artists of the K-pop genre. He is well known for breaking down the myth that only slim, good looking male singers can be successful. With Gangnam Style, PSY cashes in on one of the signature elements of K-Pop including jarring visuals, catchy tunes and a very innovative yet doable choreography.

PSY - Gangnam Style (Most watched YouTube video of all time)


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      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      I just saw the video and I must say he is creatively imaginative and some of his dancing styles are bordering on the edge of happy go crazy style!! The music is good I would say!!