Sunday, April 19, 2015

#A-TO-Z CHALLENGE 2015 – LETTER “P” – PSY


One of the contemporary artists I knew I wanted to include in Music That Influenced My Life is the artist known as Psy. Born Park Jae-sang on December 31, 1977, in South Korea, he is an internationally-known singer-songwriter, record-producer and rapper. He is known domestically for his humorous videos and stage performances and internationally for his viral video hit “Gangnam Style”. The song's refrain “Oppan Gangnam Style” (translated as Big Brother – to a female – is Gangnam Style, with Psy referring to himself) was entered into The Yale Book of Quotations as one of the most famous quotations of 2012. Psy spent time in the United States and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, which is evident in his song-writing, but that is not what first caught my ear.


It didn't help that in August of 2012, every Friday, Huffpo would take the week's most idiotic stories and set them to the music of "Gangnam Style". Am I the only one who remembers this?

So, why would I, a middling-aged non-playing violist (at the time) care, and want to include him in my entry of people who influenced my playing career? Well, in the summer of 2012, I wasn't playing and hadn't been doing so for quite a number of years. I had some kind of motor disorder and it wasn't getting better; in fact, it seemed to be getting exponentially worse. I was having trouble cooking and eating. I didn't have any real medical insurance, so I was kind of patching together a sort of treatment through my primary care doctor with muscle relaxants and going to the E. R. when the headaches became too bad for me to cope with. I would not be receiving Medicare until March of 2013, although, I did have full Disability. Playing was out of the question. I had tremors so badly, I couldn't hold my bow. (Later diagnosis showed that I in fact, have familial tremor; my mother had it – I corroborated this with my aunt – the tremors are quelled with primodone) But the only relief that I really found was movement; dancing.


I already was pretty much living on my computer. I had had a second eye surgery and was still blind and walking into walls. I think my brain has adjusted somewhat; I only walk into walls once in a while, but just bounce off and keep on going. I can play the viola now, like the hell-raiser I was meant to be and am stronger for it.

But, I was drawn back to “Oppan Gangnam Style” for a long time, because it does a lot of things that are firsts. It was the first song in youtube to break 2 billion views; the counter is stuck at 2,306,804,064 views. I know this, because I watched it three times in a row and it never changed. I really go all out for my readers!


Actually, this is wrong, the total number of views is 2,307,748,841, as of this viewing, so just this counter is broken. 

It also has the distinction of bringing us a bit closer to the “Hermit Kingdom”, which both Koreas have the distinction of being called, which is unfortunate, because the video is a total hoot. Grandmas in buses, hollering, gals galloping like ponies, kids on swingsets, people in boats, yelling “Oppan Gangnam Style”.

Psy did another smart thing with this video, although there are probably some versions he's sorry about. He allowed ANY ONE WHO WANTED TO make a parody of the video, so we have “Klingon Gangnam Style”, “Sorprano Gangnam Style” and sweet Moses on a buttered cracker, the Very Special 10-hour Version of “Hitler Gangnam Style”. Even as big a goof as I am, I'm skipping the “Hitler” version, but, I do think the “Klingon” version is pretty good.

So, what makes something like this knock Justin Bieber off his throne – besides the fact that the Biebs has no talent? I've thought a lot about this, and like the groups .fun and their marvelous song “We Are Young” and Ylvis' “What Does the Fox Say?”, it's all about the talent. “Gangnam Style” is deceptively simple, but the underlying beat is a repeated 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3-4, and it's catchy. Adding to that on the 1-2-3-4, the bass walks it on down to the tonic, and begins again, only to layer it with a 1-2-3, 1-2-3, a few measures later, leaving Psy the ability to “rap” and scan his own rhythms. Very simple, elegant and the rhythmic offsets work beautifully.


"Oppan Klingon Style", an approved parody of Psy's hit tune


Admittedly, I love things like this; it may not be everyone's cup of tea. But, I spent plenty of hours hopping around like a mad thing in the living room, and in the kitchen and bedroom; the pure joy of the music kept me going. Then, I discovered dubstep. Wub, wub, wubwubwubwubwub... Just kidding!

6 comments:

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I too am an unapologetic, un-ironic fan of PSY and this song in particular. Unlike most YouTube sensations, it actually is a catchy (for very good reason as you point out) well made song, not to mention the video is brilliant.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I can't say that I'm a fan of Psy, but he's amusing.

For reasons unknown to me, some things take off, 0-90 in popularity.

Courtney Turner said...

Interesting! Such a contrast from all those classical music posts! It is a catchy tune and the contrasts in the video - on the bus, in the water, w/ grannies, make it very light.
Maui Jungalow

Viola Fury said...

@C.D.

This song had been knocking around on the internet for several weeks and I was allofasudden, dealing with the frustration of simply trying to type. Describing the escalating medical symptoms of familial tremor, with an inner shaking at your very core is hard, because you're not really in pain, but you're aware of change, and you're aware of slowing down, when you're used to typing at 120 miles per hour, or so it seems. The added frustration, and the knowledge that something is going wrong, and the total apathy of the Medical Community (dat Medicaid insurance is a laff) left me with little outlet.

Desperate, I guess, I happened upon this, plus, I had some very kind folks in the Parkinson's Disease Awareness group, who had taken me under their wings, when I was looking up symtomology, since the Medical community had turned into the USSR regarding information or help.

Movement was good, diet, vitamins and all that happy stuff, were good.

But, I couldn't stand some of the crap on youtube and this damn "Gangnam Style" thing was popping up everywhere. Long story short, I ended up with people sending me posters, links, the whole nine yards; and the analysis of the song came natural to me. I always dissect music. Why it's good, bad, blah.

The Rolling Stones are an example; they write great cover songs, but for God's sake! No one is together, much less in tune. Yet, they live on, because they fill up dance floors. The Beach Boys; perfect closed harmony; extremely hard to do. Answer there; siblings. Same thing with the Bee Gees.

I'm glad you enjoyed my little foray outside of the classical world; I listen to lots of different music; were Beethoven alive today? He'd be leading "Rammstein", I believe, or out-writing them. Thanks for the visit! I loved Pike! Mary

Viola Fury said...

@T. Powell Coltrin!

Thanks for stopping by! The great thing about things musical and cultural is that we don't have to agree; we can debate and appreciate. I keep seeing his "Gentleman's Dance" and while I haven't listened to that yet, I probably will. Will I enjoy it as much as "Gangnam Style"? Who can say? "Gangnam" came along at a time when I needed to be buoyed and amused. Like you, some things just go right over my head. I have one for my letter "Y" that is probably going to be a giant "WTH" for a lot of people, but I almost fell out of my computer chair the first time I heard it.

However, I am very, very, easily amused and am usually up for anything remotely outside the realm of serious, profound and deep; we have so much of it in our lives, that I can do ridiculous and silly at the drop of a hat. Thank you so much for the visit! Mary

Viola Fury said...

@Courtney!

Thanks for coming by! I am eclectic; I play rock 'n' roll, blues, hip-hop and I've played my fair share of idiotic music, although this does not qualify as such. Idiotic music is playing John Williams' Star Wars as C3PO runs over your feet, or playing some kind of weird cat-like music and a guy in a fat orange-cat suit named "Garfield" horks up a hairball, as he chases another guy dressed in an "Odie" suit. Actually, the Williams' music was pretty cool, but C3PO made me knock over my sound-post in my viola, and that sucker cost me 50.00 to re-set. That was a lot of money in 1979.

The Garfield music wasn't as well-written as the music in "Gangnam Style"; I, for the life of me cannot remember who wrote it and that is probably a good thing.

I do enjoy playing lots of different music, not just classical. Even though the majority of us are trained as classical musicians, we do pick up many different styles of playing over the years, and tend to absorb whatever is going on around us at the time. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I'll have more later on, Courtney. Thanks again, for stopping by!