When you think of Gangnam Style you think of fun, partying and that horse dance BUT the meaning behind Psy's smash hit is much more political.
With over 4 billion views on Youtube, Gangnam Style exploded across the globe and saw millions of people doing the comedic-cowboy dance in unison, but it's not just a song with a killer music video and catchy hook. If we dig deep enough, there might be a subtle message about wealth, class, and value in South Korean society.
Park Jaesang - who you might know as the mastermind behind this earworm, Psy - is a bit of a rebel.
He's been busted for doing marijuana, evaded joining Korea's mandatory military service, was fined after his debut album included 'inappopriate content', and as for his second album? Well that got completely banned!
It makes complete sense then that this man could release a deep social criticism as a pop song veiled in fun and frivolity.
The titular Gangnam is actually a place, located in the trendy part of South Korea's capitol, Seoul.
In the music video you see Psy gallivanting all over the neighbourhood, being materialistic and wildly ostentatious. This is a stab at the $84 billion wealth of Gangnam and a crack at the reality that many Koreans spend lots of money just to look wealthy. It might seem subtle and non-offensive, but we are talking about Korea, and these nuances can actually be big statements.
You see, Psy observes that human society is hollow and somewhat pathetic, a feeling he admitted to in a making-of Gangnam Style special:
“Human society is so hollow, and even while filming I felt pathetic.”
Adrian Hong, observer and consultant on Korean-American culture, analysed the song and found a similar subtext.
“Koreans have been kind of caught up in this spending to look wealthy, and Gangnam has really been the leading edge of that. I think a lot of what [PSY] is pointing out is how silly that is. The whole video is about him thinking he’s a hotshot but then realizing he’s just, you know, at a children’s playground, or thinking he’s playing polo or something and realizes he’s on a merry-go-round.”
The confetti, red carpet and endless nightclubs are Psy's way of emphasising the ridiculousness of the materialism and mocking his peers who conform to the pretentious rules of Gangnam.
Image Credit: officialpsy / Youtube