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Music / Gangnam Style

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"Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy, sexy lady!"

"Gangnam Style" is a 2012 song by South Korean recording artist PSY. The song was released in July 2012, and soon became ridiculously popular. From November 24, 2012 to January 10, 2017, it was the #1 most viewed video on YouTube (surpassing "Baby" by Justin Bieber and replaced by "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa). On December 21, 2012, it became the first YouTube video in history to reach 1 billion views. Just a year and a half later, on May 31, 2014, it reached 2 billion views. On December 1, 2014, it forced YouTube to rewrite its view systems by reaching 2,147,483,647 views.

The title of the song refers to the Gangnam District, a neighborhood in the South Korean capital Seoul that is well-known for being affluent and extravagant. In Korean, the term "oppa" means "big brother", and it is a term of endearment used by women to refer to their boyfriend. Therefore, when Psy is saying "oppa Gangnam style", he is really saying "[Your] big brother has Gangnam style" — so basically, he is referring to himself in the third person, and telling ladies to come check him out because he "has Gangnam style", meaning that he is wealthy and spectacular like the inhabitants of the Gangnam District. Fitting, since Psy himself is actually from there.

This song — and the accompanying music video — provides examples of the following:

  • Affectionate Parody: It's one giant parody of K-Pop, featuring many k-pop artists (that giant random crowd dancing in a disco isn't just a face of nobodies) and a beat that's a take-off on a lot of k-pop songs. Given that PSY's style prior to his international fame is considered K-Pop...
  • Boastful Rap: A parody of the genre. The narrator brags about his luxurious lifestyle, while the music video reveals him to be trying waaay too hard.
  • The Cameo: "Gangnam Style" includes several Korean celebrities, naturally lost on international viewers. For the curious:
    • The two chess-playing *cough* old men are Daesung and Seungri from Big Bang
    • The yellow-suit-wearing guy from the parking lot is TV host and comedian Yoo Jae-Suk
    • The pelvis-thrusting elevator dude is actor Noh Hong-chul
    • The girl dancing on the subway is Korean singer Kim Hyun-A. note 
    • The massive disco crowd at the end are various K-POP stars.
    • Even the little boy at the beginning is from Korea's got Talent!
  • Gratuitous English:
    • "Heeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy, sexy lady!"
    • "You know what I'm sayin'!"
  • Informed Attribute: The subway station in the video is repeatedly stated (even on this very page) to be "dirty" and "dingy." Perhaps this is the case by Korean standards, but it's relatively tame by western standards.
  • Lighter and Softer: Bright and happy compared to PSY's older works, which were dark and gritty, with a lot of sarcastic jabs and Black Comedy.
  • Male Gaze: When the camera zooms in on the assets of women exercising.
  • Meadow Run: Played for laughs when PSY and HyunA do this... in a grimy subway train.
  • Mock Millionaire: The song is, in part, a skewering of people who try to seem wealthy.
  • Modesty Towel: PSY and two other men sport one in the sauna scene; however, PSY wears his around the chest.
  • Nouveau Riche: "Gangnam Style" is a satire of young Koreans who are either filthy rich or want to be filthy rich.
  • Stealth Parody:
    • Behind the catchy tune, it is a critique of those who imitate South Korea's upper-class citizens, specifically the posh upper-class Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul (think a Korean Beverly Hills or Manhattan). Psy has said that the song is making fun of posers who say they are "Gangnam style", and it takes shots at women into shallow, materialistic trendiness... and the guys who buy into it to impress chicks.note 
    • PSY appears to be lounging on beach, but he's actually on a playground; he admires the horses in a ritzy stable, but winds up on a merry-go-round; he struts in a suit with a babe on each arm while being pelted with garbage and fake snow; and he spends the whole song talking about how he wants a classy lady for a girlfriend, but when he meets his true love in melodramatic slo-mo, they're both on a dingy subway train. He even brags about his wealth while sitting on the can.
  • Stealth Insult: Like many of PSY's songs, this song turns a social phenomenon into Sarcasm Mode. In this case, the Nouveau Riche society in Gangnam district.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Right before the first chorus hits, an explosion inexplicably goes off behind PSY.
  • Swan Boats: Swan-shaped boats appear in the music video.
  • Toilet Humour: A literal example: one shot in the music video features PSY rapping while sitting on the toilet, adding on to the overarching joke about materialist tryhards.
  • Unflinching Walk:
    • In the beginning, PSY and two women walk while an excessive amount of wind blows trash and fake snow. The women try their best to keep it out of their faces. PSY... doesn't.
    • Right before the first chorus, an explosion blows away chess players behind PSY... who simply walks up to the screen and introduces 'Gangnam Style' to the viewer.

YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYIN'? Oppa Gangnam Style!