IT’S a great privilege and responsibility to have a weekly space in a national newspaper with which to address the important cultural issues of the day. This week’s topic: the South Korean man who dances as if he’s riding an invisible horse.
“The song is characterized by its strongly addictive beats and lyrics, and is thus certain to penetrate the foundations of modern philosophy,” predicted Gangnam Style’s YouTube page when the video went online in July. Has it achieved that aim? Well, it’s been watched 360 million times, spoofed endlessly, and last week became the first ever South Korean single to be a UK number one (until Adele stole its crown within hours on Friday).
But has modern philosophy been penetrated yet? The clip is, essentially, just a short, slightly chubby Korean man dancing as if riding an invisible horse. This is potentially a problem for PSY, who has released six albums but is now principally famous as the funny Korean horse guy. Last week it was reported that he’s working on his first single in English, but it’s difficult to imagine whatever song he comes up with next having anything like the impact of Gangnam Style. Without the horse dancing, after all, Gangnam Style is basically just Pump Up The Jam by Technotronic.
OK, that’s not quite true. Even without the horse dance, the video is magnificently peculiar – the shopping trolley full of tennis balls, the swan boat gliding past, the balletic, slo-mo sequence on the train, the frenzied hip hop gestures on the toilet, the great unanswered question of exactly what those two old men under the flyover are exploding and why. Like Empire of the Sun’s Walking On A Dream, it’s the kind of pop video that feels like something you imagined in the midst of a feverish sleep. Nobody makes videos like that in real life, right?
If PSY is to be more than a one-hit wonder in the west, it’s the video that will swing it. If I was his manager I’d be putting in a call to Ok Go, the band whose inspired videos with treadmills, performing dogs and marching bands have got them far more attention than their music ever did on its own.
Or perhaps it really will be down to spreading PSY’s philosophy. The appeal of Gangnam Style, ultimately, is the sight of someone doing something very silly with absolute conviction. For anyone who worries that life is fundamentally pointless (ie: most of us) the message is clear – it doesn’t matter that what you’re doing is futile and ridiculous. Happiness, meaning and fulfilment lies in doing it anyway, with as much skill, commitment and positivity as you muster. There you go – the foundations of modern philosophy have been penetrated. «
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east