A university student recently interviewed me about the ways that race relations and music overlap. One point I made during the interview is that the popularity of Psy's "Gangnam Style" is a sign of racial progress. While K-Pop's popularity in the U.S. has been growing for years, just a decade ago the idea of a Korean rapper topping the music charts in the U.S. would have been unthinkable. But not everyone's happy about Psy's success. Bill O'Reilly just doesn't understand why "Gangam Style" is the most viewed YouTube video ever.
On a recent episode of "The O'Reilly Factor," the conservative commentator even brought in a psychiatrist to discuss the phenomenon that "Gangnam Style" has become. I know that pop music isn't everyone's cup of tea, but O'Reilly took shots at Psy that seemed racially-tinged. He not only referred to Psy as a "little fat guy from Yongyang or some place" but also cracked that he knows a lot of guys in Long Island with the same name and "none of them look like him." In other words, they're white guys named "Cy." O'Reilly and the on-air psychiatrist also repeatedly called the song unintelligible. Um, the song is in Korean. That doesn't make it unintelligible. That makes it a foreign language.
O'Reilly also remarked that he understands why Elvis Pressley, the Rolling Stones and even Justin Bieber are popular, but he doesn't get Psy's appeal. Why is it so hard to believe that a dance song with a catchy chorus would be popular? Silly dance songs have topped the charts for years--from the "Macarena" in the 1990s to "Hey, Mickey" in the 1980s to the "YMCA" in the '70s. But it's "Gangnam Style" with which O'Reilly takes issue? Hmmm.