Oppa Gangnam Style!


Who would have thought that a cheesy tune from the other side of the world (with lyrics that, for all we know, could mean absolutely anything) would become such an international hit? I am talking, of course, about “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper, Psy. Hitting almost 500,000,000 views on YouTube, it is now THE pre-drinking tune, a song played repeatedly on the radio and, to be honest, a song that I would quite happily stick on my iPod to keep myself occupied on the 2A.

But wait – does anyone remember Rebecca Black loving the fact that it was Friday last year? Or maybe Swede Mason’s Masterchef mix up of Buttery Biscuit Base? These were also massive Internet sensations. But we quickly became bored and the popularity of these songs soon diminished after several weeks. In the very near future it is highly likely that our temporary love for “Gangnam Style” will also sadly come to an end. My question is, then, what do these short-lived YouTube sensations tell us about our society? Do we all have short attention spans and therefore constantly demand novelty? Or do these YouTube hits actually bring us all together and in fact do quite the opposite of causing our minds to deteriorate?

Big internet hits are so successful because the (so-called) songs are annoyingly catchy, but also annoyingly repetitive. Repetition, regardless of what is being repeated, gets boring after a while so inevitably our minds will wander and move on to something new. What’s strange however is that these songs never again see the light of day. My ears have, thankfully, not had to suffer the nasal vocals of Rebecca Black since “Friday” was a big hit last year. Arguably, therefore, it seems that new technology and big Internet phenomena such as YouTube are giving us shorter attention spans and a constant desire for the new and improved.

The transience of internet fame is only one example of our decreasing attention spans. New models of phones, game consoles, laptops and MP3 players are constantly being released, simply because the novelty of new technology fades extremely rapidly. In the 21st Century it is an unfortunate fact the new gets old very quickly and it seems that temporary Internet fame is a phenomena that has achieved its success through our desire for the new.

Image by Universal Music Group

Such a negative perspective is probably something my Nan would preach. This view makes it seem like the generations are slowly but surely becoming socially inept. However, I would like to think that this is not the case. Internet sensations become major, and rather useful, topics of conversation. People like to gossip and we need something to gossip about. It also creates debate, somewhat completely unimportant, but nevertheless who hasn’t had a conversation about how they love to hate “Gangnam Style” and “Friday”.

I would even go as far in saying that the Gangnam Style actually gives us some form of international perspective. The world knows about it, and most certainly loves it, which gives me a slight comforting feeling. It sounds cliché, but despite worldwide problems such as international economic meltdown, it’s good to know that the world also shares a sense of humour and a (pretty bad I must admit) taste in music.

The conclusion I have come to is that there is no conclusion. The fact is that the transience of internet fame is undeniably addictive and keeps our society going as it meets our demands. However, there is a possibility that it is continuing the path that our society seems to be following – distaste for the old and a constant demand for novelty.

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