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Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Is It?: Gangnam Style

Now that election season is over (I can't wait to find out who wins, can you???) and I'm no longer throwing my guts up once an hour, Giant Electric Penguin can get back to the business of wallowing in pop culture silliness.  However, as most of you know, I am only one man and, therefore, cannot experience/report on every bit of pop culture ephemera in a timely fashion.  At the rate things are going, by the time I get to talking about SNL's Louie parody in which Louis CK played Abraham Lincoln as a sad-sack president/stand-up comedian (which was hilarious, by the way), no one is going to remember who Abraham Lincoln is or did, aside from his tireless efforts to eradicate the plague of vampires from America's shores as a young man.  There's just too much!  Something beautifully stupid/amazing/inexplicable comes down the pike (is it pike or pipe?) every day and one man with a 16-month-old daughter, bills to pay, lawns to mow and shitty New Jersey diner food to vomit all over the place, cannot touch on it all.  But I want to try to hit the big stuff, and that is what I hope to achieve with GEP's newest feature, "What Is It?"

I thought I'd start with this song "Gangnam Style," because apparently it is a thing.  I'm not even sure that it's just a song actually.  Is it also a dance?  Is it like the Macerena, which was a song but also a dance but maybe also an actual person???  I don't know.

And, look, OK, I didn't actively avoid "Gangnam Style" because I think I'm better than anybody.  That isn't the point of this exciting and informative essay.  I didn't start seeing "Gangnam Style" posts on Facebook from my less "cultured" friends and think, "Oh my, that new song the lower classes seem to enjoy so much certainly holds nothing of value for me, a man who appreciates the finer things in life, like framed art, fine wine and films about homosexual cowboys in love.  The people who enjoy this "Gangnam Style" thing are obviously inferior beings that deserve to be sterilized so that they may not breed another generation of bumbling dunderheads, if not simply shot through the brain and killed instantly."  I didn't once think any of that.  I just had better things to do.  I no longer have that issue.  Here's "Gangnam Style:"

So, this is "Gangnam Style," is it?  This is the huge international hit everybody loves?  Hmmm.  Maybe I am better than you people.

First, look, I listen to a lot of Top 40 radio--probably too much--and this just sounds like every other popular song out right now, only not as good.  I don't know if you've tuned in to a Top 40 station any time recently, but the big trend in music seems to be "turn any space you're currently occupying into a loud, sweaty dance club."  And if you can cram a little dub step into your song, even better.  I guess it's "interesting" (???) that "Gangnam Style" is a hit in the United States even though the lyrics are primarily in Korean, maybe?  

Is Psy the appeal?  Probably, though that doesn't explain why "Gangnam Style" is a radio hit.  It's not like you can see Psy singing and dancing around when you're listening to the song in your car.  I guess you can imagine him, all pudgy and tuxedo-clad, shouting at women's asses and cuddling with other fat dudes in a steam room, while you drive around.  I don't know what you do when you listen to songs.

Maybe it's the dance.  Maybe, like the Macarena, people (mostly white, because obviously) recognize that "Gangnam Style" comes with an easy dance to do and, boom, instant hit.  I don't know of many people who can't pretend that they're riding a horse.  That's the "Gangnam Style" dance essentially, right?  Bouncing around like you are enjoying a complimentary pony ride at an 8-year-old's birthday party?  Only it's not enough to pantomime a relaxing equestrian excursion, you've apparently got to be very aggressive about it to truly tap into the spirit of "Gangnam Style."

So, how about a ruling (Yes, I'm going to offer unasked for rulings on things in this feature.  Fun, right?).  Is "Gangnam Style" worthy of the kudos being heaped upon it?  The answer is no.  "Gangnam Style" is stupid and this is coming from someone who revels in a wide variety of stupid things.  I don't begrudge Psy his fame or his place in the Wedding Reception Hall of Fame, but "Gangnam Style" doesn't do a thing for me.  It doesn't make me laugh.  It doesn't make me smile.  It doesn't make me want to horse dance.  It doesn't make me anything.  

1 comment:

Gabe Sealey-Morris said...

1. Yes, he's definitely saying "Open condom style" because it's part of a government program to raise the birth rate in Korea.

2. Why?

3. I felt safe ignoring this song until you posted about it. Now I feel silly ignoring it when I could have just as easily never known about it at all by never going online.