‘Gangnam Style’ Rides Into Overdrive
After all that horsing around, the Gangnam Style phenomenon is still not letting up.
Nearly three months after its YouTube release, South Korean rapper Psy’s hit song — which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — continues to inspire parody videos in Singapore and abroad.
It took the top spot on the Billboard digital charts earlier this month and has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the most “liked” video in YouTube history, with more than 3.8 million “likes” on the video-sharing website to date.
In Singapore, the popular track still gets clubbers moving on the dance floor and has been featured in many a wedding video and Teachers’ Day performance.
New videos such as Super Kancheong Style and Oppa Indian Style have gained a following, while older ones such as Sin- gaporean Style by YouTube vlogger Darryl Ian Lim Koshy (or Dee Kosh) have hit two million views — up from 300,000 when SundayLife! reported it in August.
Video editor Rajan Jothee, 26, who goes by Jasonraj on YouTube, put up Oppa Indian Style on Sept 20 and was surprised by the response.
“I did the video purely for fun and expected completely nothing,” he says.
It shows him dancing in Little India and has more than 700,000 views.
The other popular video, Super Kancheong Style, which pokes fun at the busy lives of children in Singapore, was produced and uploaded on Sept 28 by digital publishing house Tickled Media.
Says the company’s vice-president of sales Vincent Chin: “We wanted to do it for Children’s Day after PM Lee Hsien Loong made his National Day Rally speech about returning childhood back to the kids.”
The video has more than 400,000 views and was shared by PM Lee on his Facebook page.
The dance has also been featured in many weddings, say videographers here.
Derrick Tan, 34, owner of videography and photography company The Qing Dynasty, says he covered six weddings in the last three months which used Gangnam moves during the morning gatecrashing session. The rite requires the groom and his entourage to perform dares before they can whisk the bride away.
Senior IT officer Kenny Tan, 35, who got married on Sept 16, says he enjoyed doing the moves when he went to fetch his bride on their big day.
“We also got good response from the guests at the wedding dinner when we showed them the video of the morning’s events,” he says.
Sales engineer Jeremy Chong, 28, who also did the moves with his groomsmen in his wedding video, says he gave a repeat performance at the after-party. “We were more daring after some drinks,” he adds.
The Korea Tourism Organization has jumped on the bandwagon and is using the song to promote the country and its culture. Those who do an online survey about the video or submit their own “I am Korea Style”-themed video stand to win prizes.
Its website also has a one-day suggested itinerary of the Gangnam area in Seoul.
Adeline Goh, senior marketing manager of the Korea Tourism Organization’s Singapore office, says the video has made people “sit up and notice Korea and especially the Gangnam area in Seoul.”
“It has also shown a light-hearted side of Korea and that Hallyu [Korean Wave] is much more than just young idols with good looks,” she adds.
But how did a video of a chubby, middle-aged Asian man gain such a worldwide following?
Assistant Professor for broadcast and cinema studies at Nanyang Technologial University Liew Kai Khiun says it is precisely Psy’s physique that makes him stand out.
“The seemingly awkward horse-riding style of a plump-looking middle-aged man in loud techno music stands in contrast with the often slick and sophisticated dance steps and songs of many picture- perfect K-pop groups,” he says.
Gui Kai Chong, an instructor in media studies at the National University of Singapore, says the overall tone of “exuberance, conviviality and humor” also contributed to the popularity of the short clip.
The horse-riding move, in particular, was picked out as a key to the video’s popularity. “It resonates cross-culturally. Not everyone can go horse-riding, but everyone knows what it is and can do the dance moves,” he says.
But content aside, the way the video went viral is also important.
Gui says celebrities who shared or commented on the video, such as Katy Perry and Britney Spears, were vital to its success. “It helps that celebs caught on because they are considered opinion leaders. Traditional media also reported about the video which then amplified the diffusion.”
And it may be some time yet before the next big thing comes along.
Assistant professor Liew says producers would have to come up with a performance that audiences can enjoy and a style that people can “replicate in different localities and conditions.”
— Reprinted Courtesy The Straits Times