Since the video was posted on YouTube on July 15, it's received nearly 50 million views and counting. It’s at the top of the K-Pop Hot 100 chart, and crossed the ocean to American iTunes charts, where it currently resides at number 65. The lyrics refer to a posh, Beverly Hills-like area of Seoul, so “Gangnam Style” alludes to ostentatious wealth and a sort of #YOLO, devil-may-care attitude.
Psy owes his international success to the surprisingly silly “invisible horse dance,” as the internet is calling it, which helped the video go viral. But as funny as the imaginary giddyup looks, invisible horse dance is on its way to becoming a full-fledged dance craze. VH1 pointed out that singer Nelly Furtado performed it at a concert recently. Psy’s appearance at a recent Dodgers game got all of the fans in the stands to do the invisible horse dance. There are t-shirts for sale. Fans are making appreciation videos. Learn the choreography, prepare for the invisible horse dance takeover.
The dance has multiple influences: The 60s dance called the pony, popularized by Chubby Checker; LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” shuffle (which, in turn, comes from the Melbourne Shuffle); a little bit of Monty Python; and regular old pantomime.
Invisible horse dance looks like it would be too goofy to become popular. People would be too self-conscious to dance around like they’re riding an imaginary pony, right? But with dance crazes, the sillier, the better. Think of the Loco-Motion, the Train, and the Cotton-Eyed Joe. A few years ago, a Spanish pop group Las Ketchup, sparked a mini dance craze with their similarly lost-in-translation “Ketchup Song,” which had equally amusing moves. And chances are, you’ve gone to a wedding where the chicken dance was performed, and that song and its arm-flapping moves have persevered despite being twice as dumb-looking and not even half as good of a song.
“Gangnam Style” has made an extraordinarily stupid-looking dance move suddenly cool. It doesn’t hurt that “Gangnam” sounds a little bit like the word “Gangsta.” It’s only a matter of time before you see it at bar mitzvahs. Better saddle up and take the reins.