"Gangnam Style" (CD Single)

Music review by
Kim Alessi, Common Sense Media
"Gangnam Style" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Korean parody gone viral is fun but too sexy for small kids.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 68 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

There's no question that the video and song lyrics objectify women. But, being a parody, the video can also serve as a tool to show how these behaviors are inappropriate.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Psy's hotshot character is hardly the kind you'd want your kid to associate with. During the video, he appears to flaunt himself at the beach, but it's just a children's playground; he poses while playing polo, but he's really on a merry-go-round; he boogies at a nightclub, but he's actually on a bus with retired tourists. The contrasts work as a parody of self-importance.

Violence

In one scene, a small explosion causes a man to fly off a bench.

Sex

There's lots of sexual content in both the song and video. There's plenty of gawking at women, pelvic thrusts, high hemlines, and horse-riding movements (apparently a metaphor for sex). The only English lyrics are: "Hey, sexy lady." Some Korean lyrics (translated) include: "A girl who is warm and humane during the day / A girl whose heart is hot when night comes/... A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes /A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles."

Language

While the lyrics are in Korean, English translations are easily available online. There's no profanity, but the lyric are all about the quest for sex. The literal translation of "Oppan Gangnam Style" is "Your Big Brother is Gangnam Style," with "Big Brother" referring to Psy himself. 

Consumerism

The song's video pokes fun at opulence and a decadent lifestyle. Since going viral, "Gangnam Style" and Psy's signature gallop-dance have been performed on numerous network television talk shows, the MTV Music Video Awards, Major League Baseball games, and at flash mobs around the world. Psy recently signed with top music executive Scooter Braun, who's also Justin Bieber's manager.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that "Gangnam Style" and its video have gone viral globally. It's South Korean rapper Psy's spoof of the posh lifestyle in the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul. The video's loaded with quirky, galloping-horse-style dancing, sexy moves, ogling at women's bodies, and social subtext. The song's lyrics are in Korean and are about wanting that perfect girlfriend who knows when to be refined and when to be wild. The synth-pop dance grooves are familiar to Western ears and nightclubs. But while the video's goofy and amusing to those mature enough to understand parody, its sexual images and degrading message are inappropriate for younger kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byunikkorns March 13, 2013

Too sexy is right

I'll admit that it's cute when the kids in my program do the Gangnam Style dance to other songs, but I draw the line when they say "Sexy."... Continue reading
Parent Written bytreat02 January 12, 2013

Funny, but the music video is what the fuss is about

Well, other than "sexy lady" the SONG isn't bad. If you have a younger kid, (8 or 9) it's okay as long as they don't see the music vide... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byess16 October 6, 2012

funny song

this is a funny song with some sex stuff implied and in the music video it looks like its raining cocaine
Teen, 13 years old Written byskrillexCOD fan September 19, 2012

very random

okay the funniest song n earth but its surprisingly good the sexual content is kinda bad but thats what makes it funny like h umping and all he random korean gi...

What's the story?

Park Jae-Sang, known by his stage name, \"Psy,\" is a South Korean rapper popular for his parodies, controversial albums, and outrageous costumes. \"GANGNAM STYLE\" has introduced the world to K-pop (Korean pop) and quickly topped Billboard's Social 50 -- the chart showing the most active artists on the world's leading social networking sites. Psy writes his own songs and choreographs his own videos, a rarity among K-pop stars.

Is it any good?

Taken at face value, yes, "Gangnam Style" blatantly objectifies women and is littered with gross self-indulgence. But it's a parody of wealth, class, and values in South Korean society, which, in recent decades, has strived to emulate American culture. So on second glance, we can see familiar images of luxury, conspicuous lifestyles, and self-important attitudes in Psy's video, all punctuated by self-deprecating humor -- what other rapper, after all, would show himself sitting on a public toilet?  The video's worth seeing (maybe even a few times), if not to see a caricature of contemporary Asian and American urban lifestyles, then to keep up with what your kids might be watching on a viral level. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what "going viral" means and what it takes to make it happens. Why do you think this video and song have gone viral? Who do you think is watching it, and why? 

  • What do you think Psy is trying to say in his video, and what effect might his message have on societies around the world?

  • Psy is the first K-Pop star to make it big in America. How do you think being a hit in the United States helps pop stars' careers in their  homelands?

Music details

  • Artist: Psy
  • Release date: September 14, 2012
  • Type: Single
  • Label: Republic Records
  • Genre: Dance/pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No

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