What is ‘Gangnam Style?’ Korean viral sensation Psy’s video, explained

via NY Daily Post: 

 

If you saw South Korean rapper Psy, a.k.a. Park Jae Sung, make his American debut at the VMAs, you might be confused. Here’s a cheat sheet on the latest YouTube phenomenon.

 Psy’s video, “Gangnam Style,”  went viral faster than Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” It’s got 117 million views since being posted on YouTube July 15.

Psy’s video, “Gangnam Style,” went viral faster than Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” It’s got 117 million views since being posted on YouTube July 15.

At last night’s VMAs, millions of American viewers were introduced to Psy, the South Korean rapper whose video, ‘Gangnam Style,’ took YouTube by storm last month.

The video climbed to 100 million views in 51 days — faster than Justin Bieber‘s “Baby” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” according to the Daily Dot — and elicited a deluge of response videos.

It’s garnered over 117 million views since it was posted on July 15, and Psy, a.k.a. Park Jae Sung, became the first Korean artist to be invited to the VMAs since Rain performed in 2005, according to the Korea Times.

But what do the lyrics of the song mean, and what’s the story behind Psy’s trademark dance move?

If you’re just hearing about the Gangnam craze for the first time, here’s a quick cheat sheet to get you up to speed.

PSY8N_1_WEB

Host Kevin Hart (L) does Psy’s signature “horse-riding dance” with the South Korean rapper during the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.

WHAT DOES ‘GANGNAM STYLE’ MEAN?

Gangnam is a wealthy neighborhood in the South Korean city of Seoul where young people go to party. In the song, Psy describes the kind of guy he is and the kind of girl he wants, painting caricatures of the ostentatious culture of people who hang out in Gangnam.

As The Atlantic pointed out in an in-depth article last month, behind the flashy costumes and killer dance moves in Psy’s video, there’s a subtle commentary on class in South Korea.

WHAT DOES THE CHORUS, ‘OPPAN GANGNAM STYLE,’ MEAN?

It roughly means something like ‘Your man has Gangnam Style.’ ‘Oppa,’ which literally means ‘older brother,’ is an affectionate term girls use to address older guy friends or a boyfriend. It can also be used as a first-person pronoun, as PSY does here — in this case, he’s telling a woman that he has Gangnam style.

PSY8N_3_WEB

Getting on that high horse. Korean rapper Psy shows his signature move, which he calls the “horse-riding dance.”

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH HIS SIGNATURE DANCE?

“It’s a horse-riding dance,” PSY explained in an interview with NY1 anchor Michelle Park. “So there is an invisible horse, and you’re on it.” (In the video, Psy first does the dance in the middle of a posh-looking stable.)

The singer manages to turn an activity typically associated with the wealthy into a hilarious, arm-flapping dance move.

HOW DO YOU SAY ‘PSY?’

It’s pronounced like ‘sigh,’ short for ‘psycho.’

WHAT’S NEXT FOR PSY?

He signed with Schoolboy Records, the label of Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, so we may soon be seeing more of him stateside.

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