Today’s topic is one that I’ve been putting off for a while now, but I’m going to talk about Gangnam Style.
This brand of catchy, in-your-face, why-won’t-it-go-away kind of pop is nothing new in modern music, but it does always seem to creep up, almost entirely unseen, to then suddenly reveal itself in all of its dominating glory. It’s always difficult to judge how self-aware these musicians are, and they certainly raise many questions not only about the integrity and craftsmanship of modern musicians, but also the dignity and taste of modern audiences. Either way, the big, brash pop songs that come around every so often and fill every Facebook feed for weeks on end, are undoubtedly successful, and get more coverage than most bands can hope for in a whole career. But why are they so popular? And, more importantly, are they even good?
Now I managed to go quite a while until I heard Gangnam Style. I missed the initial craze when he was absolutely everywhere, but, having a radio show, it was only a matter of time until I would come across it. Usually, I subscribe to the rule that there are no bad songs, just the wrong audience, but the problem with Gangnam Style was that I had heard people talk about it and recommend it so much that I couldn’t help but already hate it a little bit. Upon hearing it I felt a bit better about it, because however annoying it is and however crazy people (for some reason) go for it, a successful song is a successful song and you have to respect what has gone into it. You have to contextualise these tracks as you would any other, because I’m not a big fan of Stooshe or Ellie Goulding or The Wanted, but if I were to say they are bad, then I would just be plain wrong. They are good, just not my thing.
…they are as hated as much as they are loved…
So the thing I disliked about Gangnam Style was the stigma attached to it, and I suppose I resent the fact that it is because of this stigma that it has become so popular. The fact that people were so publicly and vocally divided about this fairly annoying but basically harmless and fun pop song meant that it spread like wildfire, and though I have no problem with it, I don’t think it means quite as much if an artist is successful because they are as hated as much as they are loved. We had the same problem with the Crazy Frog, no one really enjoyed it, but it stuck around because people constantly needed to say how much they disliked it. Disliking something should be a very good reason to not share it, and if everyone just stuck to the things that they liked rather than forcing themselves to have an opinion on something that wasn’t intended for them, then these songs would not take over, and would ultimately stay bearable.
So I suppose what I’m trying to say is, whether or not you like Gangnam Style (or any song, for that matter), and however amusing your reaction to it may be, there are people who do genuinely like it. But if the people who find it annoying enough to share outweigh the people who actually like it, then we get into a soul-crushing pattern of artists creating songs as irritating as they can in order to reach a wider, more annoyed market: Las Ketchup, The Cheeky Girls and The Barney Theme Tune come to mind. So the more people hate these songs, the better they will do and then, as a result, artists will keep making them just because they know they’re popular. I’m still none the wiser whether Gangnam Style is good or bad, or whether it’s sincere songwriting or not, but either way, I don’t really care.