Gangnam Style, The Novelty

Korean Music Artist PSY, Creator of 2012's "Gangnam Style"

South Korean Artist PSY, Creator of 2012's "Gangnam Style"

South Korean Artist PSY, Creator of 2012’s “Gangnam Style”

“Oppa Gangnam Style!”

Where were you when you first heard the cult-hit of 2012? Despite there being only three english words (“hey, sexy lady!”) everyone chanted this one particular line. I remember the first time I heard the song, I’ll explain it briefly:

One random night on Facebook in early 2012, I saw a friend post a YouTube video to another friends profile, it was obscurely titled, and the thumbnail looked quite weird as well. So I followed the link, and saw that it had 600,000 views and as the video went on, the only thing I thought was, why? Why does this have so many views, the song is catchy yes, but the visuals are among one of the most odd things I’d ever seen.

As time went on, Gangnam Style was everywhere, partly for its replay value, partly for its obscure visuals, and party because of the hype that suddenly surrounded it. The song quickly became known as the bridge between the western world and K-Pop, the song that will finally allow the west to absorb and enjoy the musical stylings of South Korea.

It’s 2015, and where is PSY now? Since Gangnam Style, he has released 4 songs, entitled “Gentleman”, “Hangover”, “Korea” and “Father
one of which featured hip-hop mogul, Snoop Dogg.

Ask virtually anyone to sing “Gangnam Style” and they’ll do it in an instant, the others? Not so much. Not only is PSY a one-hit wonder, he is also NOT the bridge between K-Pop and westerners. The odd visuals, the lack of english, the public interest and the general catchiness/replay value is what drove this song to it’s fame; it’s the first YouTube video to reach 1,000,000,000 views, and as of September 1st, it has 2,406,659,243 views.

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Gangnam Style view count as of September 1st, 2015

Gangnam Style, to put it bluntly, was the Korean Macarena. Yes, it transcended language barriers, it was a song that anyone could dance to, but that was the novelty. For many, it was the sheer cult-like status allowed them to access this genre of music, and while it propelled some westerners to discover K-Pop, it was not the song that finally brought K-Pop to respectability. Play Gangnam Style in 2015, and you might just be the most hated person in the room, you’ll be met with groans that scream “not this again”. This is what classifies Gangnam Style as just another novelty, a meme of sorts that comes and goes in the golden age of technology; in the age of the internet in which something fizzles out as fast as it became popular.

This isn’t to say he hasn’t achieved much though. In addition all the YouTube success (He currently has over 8 million subscribers), he has garnered a dedicated following in and around Asia after his hit song of 2012; his song “Korea” was a ballad proclaiming his loyalty and love for the country itself – although he is experiencing success with his new music, it just won’t be the crossover mainstream express that the western world is waiting for from Korea.


The Curious Case of Iggy Azalea

Australian Artist Iggy Azalea

Australian Artist Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea – who grew up and lived in NSW country town Mullumbimby until she was 16, only to move by herself to the United States of America, has become one of the most intriguing new musicians in recent memory.

This is not only because of her rapid rise to fame and a team around her made to generate smash pop hits, it’s because most of us witnessing her are forced to ask ourselves – shouldn’t this be a little bit offensive?

People often accuse Iggy (real name ‘Amethyst Kelly’), a caucasian Australian, of playing a stereotypical part of an African American woman in the rap industry. People criticise the way she talks, the way she dresses, the content of her music videos, and relate it all back to the idea that she is misappropriating African American culture; taking what is essentially an African American art form and making a mockery of it to make hits – all while ignoring what made rap/hip-hop what it is today.

American Artist Azealia Banks has been one of Iggy's most harshest critics

American Artist Azealia Banks has been one of Iggy’s most harshest critics

At the end of 2014, after a history of making not-so-nice comments towards each other, American rap artist Azealia Banks shared a tweet mocking Iggy and accusing her of selectively appropriating black culture:

While the argument continued on in a rather immature way – Banks has a legitimate point about Azalea’s popularity and image; she chooses to appropriate black culture, from the accent she puts on in her songs, to the way she flaunts her body, except when real African American issues arise, Iggy remains silent and offers no support or anything whatsoever.

Shane Thomas, writing for, talks about how she has ignored the issue of white privilege positively affecting her mainstream success, also citing her appropriation of other culture over the years, in particular her song “Bounce”, to which Thomas states what he thinks the videos message ultimately gives off about a rich Indian to the wider audience:

“Hey, look at that sari! I need to try one! Oh, and aren’t those braids adorable! Someone needs to do my hair like that…”

But some people are thinking, why is Eminem accepted, but Azalea hated?

“The main reason people aren’t complaining about Eminem’s victory is that, quite simply, he has unequivocally demonstrated his love for hip-hop as a culture and a genre. He long ago recognised his white privilege (“If I was black I would have sold half”) and committed himself to the old-fashioned aesthetic of masterful lyricism. That he became the world’s biggest pop star almost seemed like an accident, whereas with Iggy Azalea it seems to be the main goal.”

That, above all, is the main problem, the problem that Azealia Banks failed to sensibly communicate – above the cultural appropriation, of which the offensiveness is still being debated, the fact that she becomes M.I.A. when issues of police brutality towards African Americans, or any other “black” issues need discussion, and being selectively involved in black culture just to make pop hits and money, is most offensive of all.


Globalisation – What does it mean to us?


Globalisation – otherwise known as the most powerful dynamic that every single country in the world can obtain and utilise, is the foundation of the world as we know it today. For example, in the picture above, Starbucks, a small coffee shop based in Seattle, USA has achieved rampant success that it has even extended as a mainstream fixture halfway across the world; China boasts as many as 823 company operated stores as of 2014.

Defined as “the worldwide movement toward economic, financial, trade, and communications integration”, globalisation is especially relevant on our shores; the main road around where I used to live in Sydney was one big line of restaurants, 4 Thai, 2 Indian, 3 Italian, and I’m sure there was Moroccan there somewhere. While this is just a small sample size, it represents the larger concept of how globalisation affects us here in Australia.

The idea of the global village and “imagined communities” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler p. 463), which is essentially the connection of beliefs and homely attitudes embedded between your fellow countrymen and women, is particularly tricky in Australia. A country practically run by other countries; the diversity of international cuisines, the widespread surge of European fashion brands opening outlets on our shores, and the ever shifting range of ethnicity concentration in major cities, how can such a melting pot of international content successfully build such a strong identity, bolstered by mateship, a straight-forward attitude, and a multitude of established “Aussie” traditions? One aspect, acceptance of other cultures, both allows for globalisation to take place, while at the same time reinforcing the Australian way of tolerating the influx of cultures that have taken place over the last 100 years.

Screenshot of “Two and a Half Men”, one of the most popular American sitcoms aired in Australia

This is especially true in the “mediascape”, which is the global distribution of images and information. The majority of prime-time television shows that we view here in Australia are sourced from the USA, as well the increased popularity of Japanese anime and European films, not to mention the volume of Australian actors “making it” in the American film industry; Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Nicole Kidman, just to name a few. On top of that, we also broadcast international news coming from Japan, Indonesia, the USA, and the UK along with other prominent European countries. What this media globalisation dynamic achieves is the ability for Australians to gain an extensively wider awareness of cultural trends, political conflicts and everyday events that take place all over the world.

Iggy Azalea, real name Amethyst Kelly – was born and raised in Mullumbimby, NSW

Also a part of the global mediascape, music is a major player within the globalisation dynamic. The US music culture dominates, artists such as Iggy Azalea have crossed the Pacific Ocean and controversially appropriated the african-american rap/hip-hop genre, leading to immense criticism – however at the opposite end of the spectrum, she has become somewhat of an icon of this generation, and at least commercially, incredibly successful.

As the countries of the world continue the trend to expand its business interests, profits and low cost remain at the forefront of the globe. Whether that be culturally, politically, ideologically, or anything else, money makes the world go round; and globalisation is the ideal medium in which in operates.