Just a few weeks ago, a few of my friends on Twitter have been asking me about the latest viral video and dance craze only known as Oppa Gangnam Style. Thanks to my proficiency in Japanese, I can finally tell which East Asian language is which, and just by the name alone, I already knew it was Korean. The thing about me and K-Pop is this (and I think I’ve mentioned this before in the past). I’m not a huge fan of K-Pop, and even if I did like a few good number of K-Pop songs, I’m still not a huge fan. From the beginning it sounded so similar to J-Pop, plus I guess the whole language barrier thing somehow prevented me from actually getting in to K-Pop. I’m pretty subjective when it comes to songs and the language they speak. If the song sounded good, I would eventually like it, but if I didn’t know and couldn’t understand the message sang through the song and it does prevent me from actually enjoying the song fully. Still…
So, earlier today while on my way to the Sports Center for my routine Zumba workout, that song Oppa Gangnam Style played on the radio (I forget which radio station, I was just flipping through the channels). Now, it’s not new for my local radio stations to play songs that aren’t in English (I’ve gotten used to hearing a lot of songs in Spanish anyway), but this was the first time that I actually heard a pop song that isn’t in English or Spanish. With that, it seems that we finally found something fresh and (Oriental) Asian that non-Asians would actually like and enjoy.
There’s something that I discovered about PSY that makes him stand out from all the K-Pop artists I’ve come across. I thought the video was pure genius. It wasn’t overblown and its randomness not only made it hilarious, but it also made it catchy that would make anyone around the world loving it and watch it over and over again. I liked it and added the video to my list of favorites on YouTube.
And it was crystal clear to me that the Gangnam Style dance was just mimicking a person riding an invisible horse (thus the whole stables scene). The title Oppa Gangnam Style is somewhat self-explanatory (that is, if you’re familiar with basic Korean or if you’re like me who caught on a bit of the Korean by watching K-dramas while also being proficient in Japanese ). Oppa is a Korean honorific term for “big brother” or “older brother.” In Tagalog/Filipino, the equivalent to that is Kuya (Manong in Ilocano and probably a few Filipino dialects). In Japanese, the equivalent is Oniichan. Like Japanese, oppa is an honorific suffix (ie. (name)-oppa to call a male older than you, just like the Japanese “(name)-niichan”), as in oppose to Kuya being the prefix (ie. Kuya (name), etc.). Gangnam is actually a high-rise district in Seoul1, much like the Shibuya District in Tokyo, where the high life, fashion, high-end trends, are all prominent.
Tomorrow on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, PSY will be guesting and will be teaching Ellen and another guest, Britney Spears, on how to dance the Gangnam Style. In case some of you aren’t familiar, what I love about Ellen DeGeneres and her show is that she always features fresh, new talent that’s not in the mainstream and from all around the world. After all, she introduced to us Rhap Salazar and Charice in the past, didn’t she? PSY is definitely not an exception. I look forward to this segment for sure.
Here’s an extra video that I wanted to attach: American Teens React to Oppa Gangnam Style. Hilarious reactions too!
On the sidenote...
- capital city of South Korea [↩]