Guide to "Gangnam Style"

Okay, so we’ve all heard it. It’s been on the radio, DT while partying at Flashbacks, on busses from class, on Ellen, the Today show and SNL. Korean rap (known lovingly as just K-rap) is taking over the American airwaves one silly hip thrust and horsey gallop at a time.

And as Americans, most of us don’t know nearly as much about Asian culture as we’d like, and while more than enough frat boys sing sounds that sound like the lyrics to Gangnam Style, they probably don’t know what it means. That’s why it’s time we started to explain what you’re singing (or attempting to sing) and the culture that goes along with it.

I’m not trying to claim that I’m an expert, but I like to imagine that the years I’ve spent listening to K-pop, J-rock and watching K-dramas, I understand a bit more than the average American. And I’ll admit, google has helped me out quite a bit with figuring this stuff out. But here it is, your guide to PSY’s “Gangnam Style”.

What is Gangnam?

Gangnam is a district in Seoul, South Korea known as the most affluent area in Seoul. PSY’s described it to be like our Beverly Hills, where the people are just too fabulous for words. So naturally, Gangnam Style is this refined, lavish lifestyle but these people know how to party when it’s time. Think Gossip Girl – they’ve got American Gangnam Style.


Who is PSY, really?

He’s a South Korean rap star who’s been doing this sort of music for a while now – humorous songs with silly dance moves is nothing new for him. He’s been on the scene since his debut in 2001 with his album PSY… From the Psycho World. “Gangnam Style” is off of his newest and sixth album and now he’s known as a star around the world.

What’s the song about?

“Oppan Gangnam style” translates to “Oppa has Gangnam style” and the song is about how PSY has Gangnam style and likes girls with that same style. “A girl who’s warm during the day/ a classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee/ a girl who’s heart gets hotter when night comes/ a girl with that kind of twist” is the sort he’s looking for because he’s “a guy who’s warm during the day/ a guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down/a guy whose heart bursts when night comes”. My favorite line though, is that he’s a guy bulging with ideas rather than muscles – that’s a good guy to be around.


That dance -- what’s it about?

On the Ellen Degeneres show, PSY explains that purpose of the dance is to dress classy and dance silly. So when you’re rocking out to “Gangnam Style” make sure that you are in your finery.