SAN DIEGO, December 22, 2012 – The music video “Gangnam Style” by Korean K-Pop star Psy made history on Friday, December 21. At 10:50 a.m. EST, it became the first YouTube video to have been viewed one billion times. Yes, that’s billion with a B.
If you believe imitation is the sincerst form of flattery, Psy should feel flattered beyond belief with all of the cover versions, dance routines and parody versions of his infamous pony dance and the one phrase everyone can understand: “Oppan Gangnam Style!”
This infectious pop tune has unleashed a dazzling range of human creativity. It delights us at a time we all need to forget our cares for a while. People around the world were driven to produce their own take on this cultural phenomenon. This thing couldn’t have gone more international. It wouldn’t be surprising if all of the parody and cover versions of “Gangnam Style” had also been viewed one billion times added up.
Like it or not, Psy and his imitators took over the watercooler this year. Some of the parodies were wicked funny. Some were remarkably clever. The best were both, with a healthy dose of personality. The human spirit expressed through creativity knows no boundaries and thanks to online video we get to enjoy it. Here are the ten best in one columnist’s strictly subjective opinion. But if you don’t love these versions, you can’t be friends with me any more.
Best Military Version: Afghan Style
British troops from the 4th Mechanized Brigade serving in Afghanistan prance around in a wild array of costumes including an inflatable turkey, Spiderman, and Santa Claus as well as good old camoflague all over Camp Bastion. The soldiers said they did it to lift their spirits while away from home for Christmas. They got some help from British Forces Broadcasting Service personnel who filmed it for them over the course of three days. It was posted to their Facebook page, and it’s now making the rounds as entertainment as well as a fundraiser to help support the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team back home near their base in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Well done, lads!
Best Agricultural Version: Farmer Style
This isn’t the first time to the dance for the brothers who run the Peterson Farm operation in Kansas, but it’s the first pony dance. Their parodies of pop hits promote American farming. They are so darn earnest it’s charming. Plus, anything with a tractor is going to be good.
Best Incarceration Version: Cebu Inmate Style
The Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines has made a reputation for itself with its large-scale choreographed dance routines used to rehabilitate its inmates. It had a big hit with its rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which racked up 50 million views. It would be a crying shame if they didn’t add “Gangnam Style” to the lineup. It’s amazing what you can do with a bunch of people in jumpsuits.
Best Singing Performance: Acapella Pentatonix
A cover version by the sensational acapella group Pentatonix that won the third season of NBC’s “The Sing Off.” They even manage to sing in the original Korean, although someone who speaks Korean will have to tell me how good or bad it is. No matter, what this group can do with just five voices is hard to believe. Love the Sex Pistols prop. By far the freshest version on this list.
Best Multi-Generation Version: Mom and Son Style
This simple video, shot in a single take with one camera in a living room, features the Songs, a mom and son who share a talent for sharp dance moves. It got the attention of talk show how Ellen DeGeneres, who brought the Songs on her show. 24 million people have watched the video of their Ellen appearance, but you have to see the original version that got it all started. This is reportedly Psy’s favorite parody.
Best Mind Bending Mashup: Psy vs. Verka Ukranian Style
This is the fastest, craziest mashup I’ve ever heard. My pal Jeff Johnson tells me the caption reads “Psy vs. Serduchka.” He goes on to clue me in: “Verka Sverduchka is one of the top pop artists in Eastern Europe… Kind of a Mrs. Doubtfire hammered on vodka.” Yep, Verka is a man in Ukranian folk costume drag. Thanks, Jeff. It’s twisted and brilliant. You can find the original on iTunes if you care to add it to your workout playlist. You’ll be on fire.
Best Dance Moves: Aaninka African Dance Style
Publisher and senior editor Greg Gross of “I’m Black and I Travel” passed along this version performed by an Ivory Coast dance troupe and I’m in his debt. Best. Dance. Moves. Ever. Look for the two dancers in traditional costumes facing off near the end. Forget Jagger, these guys have serious swagger.
Best Out of this World Version: NASA Johnson Style
This version launched just a few days ago by NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It features footage of researchers at the Center dancing with some real NASA props, as well as scenes from the International Space Station and various space missions. Several real life astronauts join in the fun, including Mike Massimino, Clayton Anderson, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Michael Coats and Ellen Ochoa. It’s meant to showcase the scientific research done at the center and it has NASA’s official stamp of approval. Who cares – it’s just plain cool. The only thing that would have made it better: Mohawk Guy.
Best Live Performance: Hammer Time Style
Psy teamed up with 1990s pop icon MC Hammer at the American Music Awards for a version that folds in Hammer’s hit “Too Legit to Quit.” Psy swaps his flashy suit for some Hammer harem pants. When was the last time you thought harem pants were awesome? There is no limit to Psy’s cultural Midas touch.
Best Version By Someone Over 80: Alan Simpson Style
Winner in Gangnam Style stunt casting, former Republican Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson gets his pony dance groove on in a public advocacy message about the national debt crisis for the group TheCanKicksBack.org. The 81-year-old statesman tells young voters to stop watching “Gangnam Style” to join this campaign. Simpson shows he’s got a great sense of humor and is willing to do what it takes to communicate an important message. He looks fly compared to the dude in the can costume next to him.
Best Translation and Best Inside Jokes Version: Klingon Style
This is no holodeck illusion. Without a doubt the best Gangnam Style parody video of them all, this version is sung completely in Klingon. Don’t worry, you’re provided full subtitles which provide plenty of laughs on their own. We’ve got Worf, Riker, Geordie, Data, a tribble, and a young Vulcan. People in the 23rd century know their dance moves, and there’s even a Vulcan neck pinch thrown in. Be sure to watch all the way to the end for an inspired finish any Trek fan will love. Much respect to director Emily McGregor and the team at Comediva. May you Live Long and Pony Dance. Kapla!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
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