Saturday, October 13, 2012

Not Big in Japan

While Gangnam Style fever continues to sweep the globe, Japan seems to be immune to the viral music video sensation by the South Korean musical artist known as PSY. It’s kind of a mystery to me that the song hasn’t taken root here. Even with the recent squabble over a rocky outcrop lying in the waters that separate Japan from South Korea (etcetera), the Japanese public seems to be enamored of Korean popular culture. 

At least that’s what a tour of the local Temple Valley DVD rental emporium would suggest. There is an entire aisle devoted to Korean television dramas and movies. The shelves hold about two thirds as many DVDs as the section devoted to American TV shows and movies (which is twice as big as the area housing DVDs of Japanese movies and TV shows). Oh and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were playing a CD by some K-pop group on the store’s background music system the last time I popped in. The music genre, tailored to suit the local market with Japanese lyrics, has a pretty solid fan base here. 

So why isn’t everybody in Japan making knockoff Gangnam style videos and uploading them to YouTube like everyone else across the globe? The bigger question might be why Gangnam Style has taken the world by storm in the first place. I’m sure lots of recording artists are trying to figure that one out. Maybe the key to unlocking the mystery of the first question lies in the answer to the second. Trying to solve this riddle could keep me up all night. Who knows, by morning everyone in Temple Valley could  be moving it Gangnam Style. Stranger things have happened.


  1. I think you can find the answer to the bigger question here (on NPR):

  2. This morning I spied what maybe the answer to the first question on the Japan Today site (

    October 14, 2012 9:55 AM