Detroit, MI -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/03/2012 -- South Korean rapper PSY (short for ‘psycho’) has been a fairly established artist in his home country for more than a decade, but in the last two months he has become something of a global sensation.
The reason? His hit song, Gangnam Style, and the video which accompanies it, a video which has been viewed more than 131m times since it was uploaded on YouTube in mid-July.
The song, which takes its title from an affluent area in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the country’s rich elite. With some invisible horse-riding dance moves thrown in.
The Gangnam of the title is Seoul's wealthiest residential and shopping district, lined with luxury boutiques, top-end bars and restaurants frequented by celebrities and well-heeled, designer-clad socialites.
The video pokes fun at the district's lifestyle, with Psy breezing through a world of speed boats, yoga classes and exclusive clubs — all the while performing an eccentric horse-riding dance accompanied by beautiful models.
Humour, especially satirical humour, is rare in the mainstream Korean music scene, and that coupled with the 34-year-old's embrace of his anti-pop idol looks has helped set him apart.
The breakout success of "Gangnam Style" has been viewed with a mixture of pride and surprise in Psy's home country, with industry analysts scrabbling to identify the magic ingredient that made it such a phenomenal success abroad.
The combination of a ridiculously catchy tune and a suitably ludicrous video – needless explosions, speedboats and a dance-off in a multi-storey car park all feature – has made the song a viral hit.
It has also catapulted 34-year-old PSY, whose real name is Park Jae-Sang, into the Western music market. He appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards last week and has signed a deal with Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen.
A relative veteran after 11 years on the Korean music scene, Psy has always had a small but loyal fan base that has stuck with him through numerous ups and downs, including an early brush with the law for smoking marijuana.
It remains to be seen if "Gangnam Style" will prove to be anything more than a one-hit wonder, but its success so far, especially in the United States, is likely to prompt a review of marketing strategies in the Korean music industry.
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