A new South Korean viral video sensation is prompting a confounded worldwide reaction. K-Pop jokester PSY’s newest single, “Gangnam Style” was released in mid-July and already has almost 10 million YouTube views, most of which have to be from people left muttering "what the heck was that?" afterward.
Featuring artificial snow, tour bus parties, merry-go-rounds, yoga, boats, vinyl suits, explosions, silly dancing, and countless horses, the hit video also includes an infectious beat and flashy editing. The Internet has embraced PSY’s strangeness, with Billboard reporting the single has topped the K-Pop Hot 100 chart. Even reaction videos are tapping into the zeitgeist, with some scoring over 200,000 views.
But what does all the weirdness mean? Know Your Meme explains that the Korean phrase “...refers to the lavish and high-roller fashion and nightlife associated with young clubgoers in Seoul’s Gangnam district, which is widely regarded as the most affluent part of the metropolitan area.” The lyrics are about “a guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles,” pining for “a girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all.”
PSY, born Park Jae Sang, is a controversial South Korean hip-hop act, with his albums and singles often banned in Korea for “negatively influencing the youth” or merely mentioning alcohol. He's also a father to two daughters, a Korean military veteran, and a Boston University graduate.