What the lyrics in "Gangnam Style" actually mean

If you have not seen the YouTube sensation “Gangnam Style” by now, then maybe you should check the top 100 songs on iTunes. PSY’s hit song is number one. The music video, a South Korean pop sensation, went viral a few months ago and currently has over 350 million hits on YouTube. Many a courageous BC student has attempted to pull off PSY’s famed dance moves at a late-night Mod party with varying degrees of success. We can surely expect some great Halloween costumes based on the popularity of the song.

But enough time has passed that people are beginning to wonder just what the lyrics are. I think we can all admit we sort of mumble the whole way and then shout, “Ayyyy sexy ladies!” Actually, the lyrics are not profane or sexual. They are directed toward the consumer lifestyle currently taking hold of South Korea.

Gangnam is a very wealthy neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. So rich and flashy, in fact, that there is no real equivalent in the U.S. The closest analogy is to combine every wealthy U.S. neighborhood (Silicon Valley, Beverly Hills, the Upper East Side). No wonder PSY came up with the motto, “Dress classy, dance cheesy."

In the video, PSY attempts but fails to fit into that “Gangnam style.” He is being fanned on a beach which turns out to be a playground. Later, he plays chess with two homeless men. Best of all, instead of owning an expensive horse, his dance mirrors the riding style.

PSY himself was born and raised in Gangnam, and so gently ridicules the lifestyle. This is not some lower class artist who rose to the top making a social commentary. This is a wealthy man (who went to BU and Berklee) making fun of his neighbors, himself and their warped sense of reality. He takes pains to dance on a bus and find the girl of his dreams on public transportation, perhaps at least suggesting that money is not everything.

Many people have tried to figure out this “Gangnam Style” frenzy, from “CollegeHumor” to The Wall Street Journal. But let’s all follow the wise words of Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory: “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.” Just leave it at that.

And if you still haven't seen the video for this song, please catch up to modern times.

 

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