When Novak Djokovic celebrated his China Open title by performing the horse-riding dance, there were no words to describe the popularity of global hit “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper Psy. The song broke the world record for most viewed YouTube video and national records for most downloaded iTunes song in many countries in just two months, and topped the singles charts in many countries, unprecedented for a K-Pop single.
The K-Pop song’s music video shows the daily life of wealthy, extravagant, and hedonic South Koreans, with Psy performing the funny horse-riding dance at various locations. The refrain “Oppan Gangnam style” is repeated many times in the song and is easily memorized. “Gangnam Style” has become particularly popular in Western countries, and caught the attention of international media outlets.
Netizens puzzled at worldwide popularity of “Gangnam Style”
Many Chinese netizens have compared “Gangnam Style” with domestic hit songs. “It is much worse than The Hottest Ethnic Trend in terms of both music and rhythm. Why is it so popular then? Just because it satirizes the life of rich people?” said a puzzled Internet user. Some netizens consider the song to be a show of wealth by the children of wealthy people; some take it as a satire on South Korea’s rapidly widening gap between rich and poor, while others believe it reflects the mindset of the middle class in the country. Every country has some people who like to act rich, and this song exposes their childish and laughable behavior, striking a chord with global audiences.
Expert: South Koreans are jealous of rich people and admire non-mainstream elements
Wang Dan, director of the Korean Teaching and Research Office at Peking University’s School of Foreign Languages, once lived in South Korea for four years and obtained her doctor’s degree in the country, and served as a visiting scholar there for more than a year. She attributed the song’s insane popularity to its funny music video as well as South Koreans’ advocacy of non-mainstream elements and obsessive jealousy of rich people.
Read the Chinese version: 非主流“肥叔”突然受宠《江南style》胜在内涵