With prince of invisible equestrian sports and YouTube page views (Psy), now semi-disgraced, the Internet has decided to anoint its next silly video star. Enter Muhammad Shahid Nazir’s “One Pound Fish,” an ode to inexpensive seafood and pretty girls, that some blogs are calling the next “Gangnam Style.” They’re wrong.
It’s true that there are some common threads between the oddball pop songs. Both have brought forth unlikely stars: Psy, a portly rapper older than your typical Korean pop star, and now Nazir, a fishmonger in London’s Queens Market. They’ve quickly garnered millions of YouTube views —1.5 million since Monday for “One Pound Fish,” and more than 900 million for “Gangnam Style.” They’ve brought international music genres — K-pop and Bollywood-tinged Hindi-pop — to American listeners. And they both have a catchy and similar refrain: Psy’s “Heeeeey Sexy Ladies!” and Nazir’s “Come on ladies, come on ladies! One pound fish!” (it’s slightly reminiscent of another novelty hit, a snippet of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”).
Nazir’s Cinderella story is appealing — the song is actually an enhanced version of the jingle he uses to attract customers to his booth in the market, first filmed earlier this year — but he is no Psy (And I say this even as someone who has been sick of “Gangnam Style” since September). Here’s why “One Pound Fish”will enjoy a run of popularity, but will never usurp “Gangnam Style” as an international hit:
It doesn’t have as distinctive a look: Part of what made Psy so popular was his debonair, retro style, and — of course — the invisible horse dance. Could you see yourself doing the fish dance at a bar mitzvah or wedding? Or dressing as the fish guy for a costume party? What would that even entail?
The video doesn’t take itself seriously enough: Yeah, that horse dance is pretty goofy, and proved that Psy has a good sense of humor. But he was committed to it, and performed it as though it weren’t completely ridiculous. One Pound Fish goes in the opposite direction, embracing pure silliness: The babes with oars, the handfuls of fish, the giant nets. It looks like a parody of a meme, rather than a meme. The dancing in front of various landmarks — a hallmark of derivative YouTube videos — doesn’t help.
It’s too easy: “Gangnam Style” is mostly in Korean, so it wasn’t immediately apparent to its American audience that the song was actually a social commentary. Even with so few English lyrics, it was good enough to hook us. “One Pound Fish” is about precisely that. It’s just as earwormy, but not because it is distinctive — it actually sounds like yet-another synthesized Eurovision entry.
Please, no more fish.