It’s inevitable that a popular song will eventually receive hate. What was loved and lauded weeks ago will soon be met with groans of “Ugh, that song is so overplayed. Turn it off.” Psy’s uber-popular viral hit “Gangnam Style” is getting its backlash from an unlikely source: fans of Korean pop music.
It’s not mainstream America who is complaining that Psy is everywhere these days. It’s the girls who have SHINee and Super Junior posters covering their walls; the ones who stay up until 4 a.m. to see their favorite groups perform on music shows; the ones who should be giving Psy the support he deserves. But the KPop community has taken it upon themselves to shun Psy as he’s gained popularity. He hasn’t hit the saturation point before mainstream America becomes sick of him. But for Korean pop fans, it’s the norm to reblog posts on Tumblr that say “Reblog if you liked KPop before ‘Gangnam Style.'” As if listening to an artist that wasn’t spoonfed to America by Simon Cowell makes them special.
It’s infuriating to see the community that should be the most exciting about this rare occurrence push an artist away. Korean pop fans often excel at the “special snowflake syndrome.” Something that belongs to them cannot belong to anyone else, despite how often they muse on “What if KPop was popular in America?” Now that one song has taken off, the community has no idea what to do.
Before Psy, KPop fans wanted Korean pop to become mainstream. They were excited to see the creation of a Korean pop chart on billboard.com. They watched Girls Generation perform on The Late Show with David Letterman. They attended any concert they could. With just one video, fans saw their secret dream come true. And they hated it. They look down on their classmates and co-workers who like the song, supposedly asking if they know any other KPop artists other than Psy. KPop fans place too much on the average mainstream pop music fan. Of course they won’t know about Korean pop; KPop in itself is a genre that attracts a certain type of fan — one who has an obsessive personality. Your average dudebro can’t be expected to know more than “HEYYY SEXY LADY.” Korean pop fans need to understand that while their peers didn’t understand their taste in music in the past, liking “Gangnam Style” isn’t going to convert those who live by Top 40 radio.
Yes, it is an annoyance to hear those who made fun of one’s music taste now singing a Korean pop song, but America’s love affair with “Gangnam Style” will end. And KPop fans can go back to complaining about how no one accepts them for what songs are on their iPods.
There are also small factions of the fandom who possibly resent Psy for making it big in the States without seemingly trying. Other artists have spent years trying to crossover, and all it took for Psy was a deceptively simple song with a colorful video and memorable dance.
The KPop fans aren’t all wrong in their anger — that wonderful bastion of pop culture, “Glee,” is set to cover the song. On the one hand, “Glee” serves to prove a song’s popularity; on the other, there’s really no way the show could do the song justice in the eyes of the typical Korean pop fan.
KPop fans also recognize the racism inherent in the song’s popularity. This reaction was best demonstrated when Korean rapper Tiger JK posted a twitter outburst after attending an event for “The Creators Project.” Hecklers in the audience insisted the rapper perform the “horse dance” from “Gangnam Style,” and understandably, Tiger JK was infuriated. KPop fans rallied around Tiger JK on twitter and tumblr, supporting him when he spoke out against the incident.
“Gangnam Style” continues to hover at the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. If it hits No. 1, many pop culture reporters will claim KPop has successfully reached America. But to KPop fans, seeing Psy top the charts is their worst nightmare. The backlash against the song is at a boiling point; don’t expect the KPop fans to calm down anytime soon.