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'Gangnam Style': South Korean rapper PSY shows off K-pop swagger

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   Aug. 21, 2012 at 10:30 AM   |   Comments

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Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The video for "Gangnam Style," which has racked up more than 43 million hits on YouTube since July 15, features the chubby, tuxedo-wearing PSY as he parades around Seoul's affluent Gangnam district, performing his signature goofy dance moves on boats and rooftops, in yoga classes and horse stables.

PSY's imaginary horseback riding dance (it begins around minute 1:11), and Ricky Gervais-meets-Michael Bublé fashion sense, have inspired the song's millions of fans to mimic and parody the irresistibly wacky "Gangnam" swagger.

(@xMarieJx/Twitter)

"Gangnam means, it's like Beverly Hills of Korea," the 34-year-old rapper and reality TV judge, PSY, explained to ABC News.

"But the guy doesn't look like Beverly Hills. Dance doesn't look like Beverly Hills. ... And the situation in music video doesn't look like Beverly Hills. But he keeps saying I'm Beverly Hills style. So that's the point. It's sort of a twist."

One parody, "Pyongyang Style" mocks North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

There's also a PSY-inspired "My Little Pony" video.

Much like Jepsen's single "Call Me Maybe" attracted the attention of fellow artist Justin Bieber, musicians like T-Pain and Josh Groban are already big fans of PSY.

Singer Nelly Furtado recently covered "Gangnam Style" at a concert in the Philippines and even the Biebs himself is reportedly interested in a collaboration.

PSY has also begun making appearances in the United States, leading the crowd at L.A. Dodgers stadium for an impromptu "invisible horse" dance.

Though "Gangnam Style" parodies the stylized sensuality and exuberant color palettes of modern K-pop, or Korean pop music, the song has spent four weeks at No.1 on Billboard's K-Pop Hot 100 Chart, on pace to break the current record held by UI's "You and I," and become one of Korean music's worldwide success stories.

K-pop has already exploded in popularity in other Asian countries like China and Japan. Armed with acts like PSY and superstar boy band Big Bang, K-pop music makers have now set their sights on the enormous American market.

Spin's David Bevan describes K-pop as having an "increasingly global moment" in a recent piece on the genre.

What's most uniquely Korean about K-pop, however, is the aggressive manner in which it's surging across borders in all directions. Because local markets for American and Japanese artists are so large, artists can remain at home and enjoy hugely successful, prolific careers. Koreans are exporting K-pop simply because their local market is too small to satisfy or contain it.

Despite K-pop's hopes for American domination, some aspects of "Gangnam Style" might still be lost in translation. YouTubers The Fine Bros. recorded the alternatively confused and delighted reactions of several American teenagers as they watched the video.

One bewildered teen confused the Gangnam style chorus "Oppa Gangnam style"--roughly meaning "Girls, your big brother is Gangnam Style"--with "Open condom store."

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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