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The staying power of ‘Gangnam Style’

SEOUL: President Obama, the mayor of London and China’s top dissident artist — every time someone signals the death of “Gangnam Style” up pops another high-profile figure to keep the phenomenon alive.
In the four months since the music video by South Korean rapper Psy went viral on YouTube, it has been name-checked and imitated by an impressive roster of global notables from world leaders to sports stars and business tycoons.
While many believe Gangnam Style will ultimately prove to be a one-hit wonder, the song has shown surprising staying power and an unlikely ability to penetrate international corridors of power.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a force for world peace. On the morning of the US presidential election, Barack Obama told a local radio station that he was confident he could match Psy’s dance moves.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson performed a joint Gangnam Style dance spectacular in September during a gathering.
Johnson went on to reference the event in his keynote speech to the ruling conservative party’s annual conference. If politicians have appropriated the song in an effort to boost their populist credentials, others have used it to drive home an anti-establishment message — most notably renowned Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.
Silly or not, Psy’s influence has spread to some of the world’s most famous academic institutions.
Earlier this month, the 34-year-old rapper was invited to follow the likes of Ronald Reagan and the Dalai Lama in addressing the 189-year-old Oxford Union club at Oxford University. And a Gangnam Style video parody made by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, featured cameos by Eric Lander, one of the principle leaders of the Human Genome Project, and Noam Chomsky.
“Oppan Chomsky Style,” the 83-year-old father of modern linguistics deadpanned into the camera while sipping a cup of coffee.
For some commentators, it has all become a bit too much.
“Can anyone kill Gangnam Style?” Britain’s Guardian newspaper asked recently.
After Google chairman Eric Schmidt gave a rather awkward horse-riding performance during a visit to Seoul, Time magazine declared the Gangnam Style craze “officially over” — but that was way back in September.

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