Is it a milestone for the industry or a new version of a one-hit wonder?
This incredible story raises many questions, of which I see three main ones:
– Is there a magic formula for creating the world’s most viral video?
– Is this the way forward for artists in the future?
– Is this the unmistakeable sign that K-pop is the next big thing?
Gangnam Style is now considered as the perfect viral video. For sure, it checks all the right boxes: a choreography that can be learnt in the time it takes to watch the video just once, wacky colourful costumes, a pattern of scenes each associated to specific parts of the song (chorus, bridge etc..) and repeated many times, an English sounding gimmick on the chorus, topped with a solid dose of self-derision and fun…
The interesting aspect behind Psy not taking himself seriously is that he cleverly parodies codes a vast majority of people in the Occidental world are perfectly familiar with. Codes we have all fully integrated in the course of the past decades of hip-hop (the I’m-too-cool-for-school posture of the guy rapping to the camera and any scene displaying clear signs of wealth and success), teen pop (from Britney to N’Sync and all artists where the chorus was the moment in the video where they did their dance steps with a bunch of backing dancers), R&B (boy-girl dance battles anyone?), electro (full on street party spirit) and so on and so forth. You’ll find many more references no doubt.
A recent article on Techdirt suggested Gangnam Style’s incredible virality was down to the fact Psy had not copyrighted the video or choreography, thereby encouraging everyone to do their own versions, start parodies and share the video as much as possible.
All these factors indeed add up but what is intriguing is that there is nothing new or groundbreaking about the video content in itself here. Come to look closer at it, Psy takes the whole concept of what OK Go started in music videos a step further.
How is that, and why so, you ask? OK Go were pioneers for many reasons: the choreographies they did themselves, the humour, the self-derision. More importantly, the band were absolutely adamant their videos should be embeddable on all websites and blogs at a time when, remember, the music industry was trying hard to stop this as it threatened the copyright and collection of royalties. (OK Go were even in public disagreement with their own label at the time, EMI). But it paid off: hundreds of parodies, thousands of home-grown versions and millions of shares. Hence the fact these videos became part of music video history and beyond. These videos (especially Here It Goes Again, also known as the “Treadmills video”) took the band and their concept to another level, won them many awards (MTV Video Award most notably) and distinctions (YouTube invited them to be part of their 5 year anniversary alongside the 4 other acts that were most relevant to the community).
Continue reading the rest of the story on Midem