Guide: “Gangnam Style”


“Gangnam Style” isn’t going away. You either listen to it on repeat every morning, hate anyone who so much as mentions it or are too embarrassed to ask what it is. For those of you who are feeling like you’re missing something, here is a guide  to help you feel more pop-culturally confident.

[media-credit name=”AP Photo” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]What is it?

“Gangnam Style,” pronounced gahng-nahm, is a Korean pop hit by a South Korean rapper named Psy (short for Psycho). The title means south (nam) of the river (gang) and refers to the upscale Beverly Hills-esque area of Seoul. The song’s viral video features Psy’s doing his now-infamous horse-like dance at a playground, in a horse stable and on various modes of transportation.

Since releasing the hit on July 15, Psy has horsey-danced his way to the No. 2 slot on Billboard’s Hot 100. The video has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the most liked video in YouTube history and has more than 582 million views. Psy performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, danced on The TODAY Show’s stage and made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Why is it viral?

Maybe people like the dubstep beats. Or that the atypical K-pop star isn’t taking himself seriously. Or the fact that they can analyze the song as satirical commentary. It doesn’t hurt that Korea is incredibly wired and views Korean pop as a visual medium. If any nation were to help a song reach viral status by YouTube, it would be Korea.

Its popularity has spurred not only dancing, but also discussion of the potential to bring us world peace. According to The Escapist, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told Psy: “We have tough negotiations in the United Nations. In such a case I was also thinking of playing Gangnam Style so that everybody would stop and dance, maybe you can bring UN style.”

Who is doing it?

Everyone. If you pay attention to sporting events, procrastinate by surfing YouTube or frequent dance parties, you’ve probably seen someone imitating  Psy’s horsey dance: Dwight Howard on Ellen, LA Clippers players on the bench, prisoners in the Philippines, fans and Psy at Dodger Stadium and even a robot created at Viriginia Tech.

Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video has inspired hundreds of parodies, brought to you by anyone with a YouTube account and too much time on their hands. Searching “Gangnam Style parody” will bring up parodies with Ghostbusters, the U.S. Naval Academy 22nd Company, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Oregon duck, Jar Jar Binks and Gandalf style. Someone even took the time to set up a Halloween light show.

How do you do Gangnam style?

If you’re worried about looking silly when everyone else is horsey dancing at Halloween parties this week, you can learn from Psy himself. He taught Britney Spears on Ellen, the anchors on TODAY, and he can teach you. Just pretend like you’re riding an invisible horse and you’ll be fine.

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