Korea’s Gangnam Style

by Thomas Gidney

‘Op Op Op OP’. I stare out of my window at midnight to see a haze of orange fraternity uniforms jumping up and down on the middle of the street on their invisible steeds. This, ladies and gentleman, is not the return of the Dutch tulip madness of 1637, but a new musical insanity from the East. Oppan Gangnam style has, well, Gangnam styled into Europe.

You’re probably wondering why this is important. It’s just a musical phase of madness we’re going through, even after the Gaga years. Yet isn’t it incredible how an infuriatingly catchy tune combined with a simple dance created from a virtually unknown rap artist in a far flung peninsula on the other side of the planet has ‘Gangnamed’ into the top of the charts in Britain?

As my generation nostalgically turns their heads back to the 90’s, we remember a time when another East Asian country also had a similar effect on us. Pokemon, Digimon and Tamagotchis from Japan were all the rage back then. For some, anime is still popular but I think the West’s obsession with Japan is soon to be replaced with that of Korea. Anime fans will beg to differ, but in the popular eye, Korea is certainly the next hot thing.

Gangnam style by PSY is but one of many Korean musicians who have become popular in the West over the last few years though none of the groups have caught the same attention. Perhaps PSY’s Gangnam style will be a one hit wonder, though it has already spawned a myriad of copies, my favourite being Mitt Romney style. No medals guessing what that’s about.

But is Korea bringing us a good quality of music? Some have accused this new genre of K-pop as artificial. I can see why this is concerning. I for one do not readily fall into the brightly coloured trap of popular music. However, Gangnam style is one of those tunes which I let slide, not because pop music has become so discredited by the Bieber’s and Minaj’s of this world, but by the fact it is irresistible.

Say what you want about Gangnam style, it’s a tune that can finally render cheesy dancing in nightclubs acceptable and for that it is here to stay.

Image Courtesy of ‘Fun Sauce’ blog

Thomas Gidney



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