Gangnam Style by PSY took over silicon valley. Inspiring, exciting, and devouring the time of those at the forefront of technology. In fact the valley company "Viki" has taken it upon themselves to translate the video into 17 languages (part of what their company already does in town). A month ago it took over the offices of every one of my engineering associates. I'll admit, I've played it more than once.
Sometime music drive us to create. Maybe it will for you too.
News and videos spread like wildfire through the Internet, but every once in a while the web witnesses something analogous to an atomic explosion. The latest ultra-viral sensation is a song and video uploaded by K-pop (Korean Pop) artist Park Jae Sung a.k.a. Psy (short for psycho). Since the song “Gangnam Style” was put on YouTube, it has received over 133 millions views which has broken every record for popularity since YouTube started. Which begs the question, just what attributes to such unprecedented spread of fads and how does technology contribute.
“Oppen Gangnam style”, the song’s catch phrase, refers to Gangnam, an ultra-rich neighborhood in South Korea allegedly responsible for 7% of the country’s GDP. Loosely translated, the phrase means “brother has Gangnam style” (brother used colloquially). Psy claims the song and video is meant to be a satirical commentary on the opulent lifestyle of Gangnam residents. While this message may resonate with some residents of Silicon Valley, where the song has received most of its popularity, musical satirical comedy cannot be solely responsible for all the attention.
On the other hand, social networks are undoubtedly responsible for this kind of phenomenon. Psy has over 100,000 Twitter followers, and this includes celebrity followers whom are most likely responsible for the mass hysteria behind “Gangnam Style”. Katy Perry, Vanessa Hutchins, Britney Spears, Josh Groban and many many more, have expressed their own obsession with “Gangnam Style” via Twitter. Branching out of the celeb’s twitter accounts is millions of secondary followers being influenced to hop on the Gangnam bandwagon. A statistic supporting this American celeb-fueled frenzy is that around 47% of the views have come from the U.S. and only 4% from Korea.
Furthermore, Psy’s quirky and funky dance moves, like the “horse-riding dance”, make the video relatable to a wide range of viewers. We can relate to Psy when we see him dance as we may dance in private with our friends or in front of the mirror. Seeing that celebrities endorse Psy’s video further validates our own behavior, and it allows us to dream of the day when our own YouTube quirkiness lands us a music or movie deal along with a life of luxury. Thus we are encouraged to watch the video over and over and over and replicate it with countless copycat videos and parodies.
Since the Gangnam craze started, Psy appeared on MTV’s VMAs, signed a music deal with School Boy Records and is reportedly collaborating with Justin Beiber, another YouTube-discovered phenomenon. As long as his songs and videos resonate with celebrities, there is a decent chance we will hear of him again especially through social networks. All the while, the normal folks try to take advantage of the new opportunities and replicate the success that seems so attainable in the age of the Internet.