We know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for our take on Korean rapper Psy’s viral hit “Gangnam Style,” its just taken us a little while to gather our thoughts after all of that dancing and confetti. Many people were stunned at the video’s popularity, which has spawned dozens of imitations and even an SNL sketch with a special appearance by Psy himself. Lucky for you, we’ve managed to break down why the rise of “Gangnam Style” was bound to happen.
1. America was ready for a K-Pop monster hit. Last year your hipster friends were obsessed with K-Pop, but by this summer even the bros started to know who Big Bang and 2NE1 were. Surprisingly, “Gangnam Style” is only the second K-Pop song ever to break the Billboard Hot 100, after the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” (2009).
2. Video is killing the radio star…again. 30 years ago, everyone thought MTV was going to replace radio. 10 years ago, MTV had become a reality TV network and MP3s were the new currency of cool. Now, YouTube is the most popular way for teenagers to listen to music and it’s 1982 all over again: a great video can break a single.
4. The novelty song is due for a comeback. Big hits of the 1980s included songs about Pac-Man and General Hospital and songs “sung” by Billy Crystal and Max Headroom. The closest thing we’ve had to a novelty hit in recent years is Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” Weird Al Yankovic can’t retire until we find his replacement…could it be Psy?
5. People freaking love group dances. I used to be on an improvisatory cable access show called Freaky Deeky, and we learned that if the show ever started to sag, the best way to get viewers’ attention back was to improvise a group dance. It could be any random dance—there’s something about human bodies moving in unison that makes for great TV.
6. Psy is everyman. He’s not a chiseled stud or a bodacious babe, he’s a tubby 34-year-old guy who freaks it like a dad at his daughter’s wedding. If you hate Psy, you hate life.
7. No one really listens to the words anyway. Arguably, “Party Rock Anthem” would have been an even bigger hit if it was sung in Esperanto. “Gangnam Style” has all the English words a pop hit needs: “sexy lady.”
8. The Bieber factor. Since Psy was signed to Scooter Braun’s Schoolboy Records in early September, everything’s been Tinkerbell dust and straight on ’til morning. God willing there’s no Owl City duet in the works.
9. The song’s not copyrighted. Betcha didn’t know that. Psy deliberately chose not to copyright the song so that parodies and adaptations could fly freely (not that international copyright law would have stopped North Korea). Is this the future of music? The RIAA shudders.