Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: PSY - Gangnam Style

Forgive me. Written without much better to do 24/9/12.

 Let's talk about K-Pop. Specifically, a new meme related to an incredibly energetic and weird video, for the PSY song "Gangnam Style". The song's appeal to the Western audience comes from the fact that the absurdity and humour in the video matches our expectations of a "weird" Eastern culture, with silly dance moves, clothes and a series of ridiculous lyrics. The question that must immediately come to mind is a rather simple one. Is Gangnam Style attempting to parody the execesses of both Western and Eastern pop music, or is it really being serious and has simply used Western influences to make their music appeal to a mass audience?
     I think it's important to take a look at what this most resembles in the Western market, and that would have to be the horrendous LMFAO, whose songs seem to be as deliberately as bad as possible in a kind of lazy attempt at irony that instead just produces painfully bad music. The beat of the song is immediately similar to their magnum opus Sexy and I Know It, and the video features similar imagery (albeit in a different cultural setting). From external appearances, Gangnam Style is LMFAO's perfect replacement - the same hypnotic, lazy pop beats without any of the unpleasantness that comes with their revulsive attitudes.
     But, like it or not, PSY is much cleverer than that. Their lyrics talk about wanting a girl who can appreciate time to relax and drink some good coffee, who advertises himself as a man who can "one-shot" his cups before they've cooled. It's a mixture of humour and genuine poetry that both parodies Western music and its banal excesses, but also offers a replacement. Those who understand/look up the lyrics get the intended meaning, while the rest of the world can enjoy it as a more savoury pop treat as well as being awed by their crazy aesthetic style. What it has done, when push comes to shove, is not just create a long-lasting meme, but has also introduced a large group of new people to an entire genre of music.
     Good on you, PSY. Keep doing it Gangnam Style.


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