CULTURE: Globalization, K-Pop, and PSY’s Musical Weapon

Heard of Gangnam Style? Well you and 1,499,999,999 others have too and their new single Gentleman hit 100,000,000 in 4 days, a new YouTube record. Austin MacFadden talks about how the internet brings everybody closer than ever before and gives his opinion on PSY’s new found fame.

PSY on Paint

With the recent release of PSY’s fourteenth single, “Gentleman” on April 12, 2013 and its subsequent 60,000,000 (now 139 million 3 days later) views, social networking and the Internet have moved the world closer to a completely globalized world.

If you would have told me six years ago that in five years everyone (including my grandparents) would know the terms “Gangman Style”,  “PSY” and “K-Pop” (that being Korean Pop music, of course) …I honestly don’t know what I would have told you. I didn’t even know what they meant back then either. So I wasn’t particularly surprised when my sister first showed me “…this crazy Korean Pop song that means something political.” Out of curiosity, and wondering what Korean Pop music sounded like, I casually acquiesced and allowed her to press play on the YouTube video with a title in Korean, and (at that point) somewhere in the fifty million hit range.

Watching as vibrant-suited men danced around in resounding rooms of primary color, I didn’t know what to make of the thing. Sure, it was kind of catchy and I was transfixed on the Korean schoolgirl, but I couldn’t possibly imagine the true potential this video had: To bring a world together divided into hemispheres. To show the true power of music, and how music itself, has become universal. By bringing the world closer together with the power of music.

In the increasingly globalized world in which we live in, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it had been the first video in history to have one billion hits. I was just surprised with the how it became such a thing. Through the wonder of the Internet and social networking, the world was brought together with the power of music. One billion!  I couldn’t get over it myself. One billion. One billion, I said over and over again. That’s seven zeros. That’s one sixth of everybody on the planet. One in six. I really couldn’t get it around my head. One in six.

I had to come to terms with the fact that exactly 7000 miles away, one in six of the people in the other hemisphere shared an almost exactly similar experience with me. Staring into the ghostly blue of a computer screen, bobbing our heads to the beat of its drum and bass for three minutes and thirty-nine seconds. PSY, all the while galloping around (in an elevator, in a parking garage, in a shopping mall etc. What this could mean in the world we live, I could only imagine. (The fact that after further reading I learned it is reactionary to socioeconomic dissatisfaction and Korean hedonistic culture, only added to my bubbling excitement.)

PSY’s recent follow up “Gentlemen” (released with a minimalist character of PSY himself atop a wash of a deep blue background, with “I’m a mother f***** gentlemen,” on the bottom. Supposedly, the “f******” being intentionally mock-censored form of “father.” It has yet another dance, energetic color scheme, and my favorite Korean school girl (no longer dawned in School Girl attire though.) sarcasm However, I’m not as impressed sonically and I honestly feel that it’s a pretty bad song. It’s not as catchy as his last, and I think it lacks some of the fun of his last. It’ll probably reach close to a billion views, but it still will never be the first. And it will never top being the first to reach that, even if it is the same guy with an equally bewildering dance.

But that’s okay. Because with all the tension mounting in the South Pacific at the moment, I’m happier knowing PSY’s dropped a bomb and not the People’s Republic of North Korea.

By Austin MacFadden

The Verse Staff

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