You know you've made it in America when they spoof you on SNL. In the case of Psy, the Korean pop star responsible for the "Gangnam Style" madness, the process was incredibly quick. The song was released in July, and in a matter of weeks it had over 100 million views on YouTube. A contract with Justin Bieber's producer and a MTV VMA appearance ensued. Boom!
Next in line it's Girl's Generation, the nine-member K-Pop girl band also known as SNSD by its huge global following. Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona and Seohyun formed the group in 2007. On YouTube, one of their most popular videos, "Gee: Baby Baby," is about to reach 100 million plays. Their English single, "The Boys," is on its way of reaching the 10 million mark. And their most recent one, "Paparazzi," has over 15 million.
The New Yorker profiled them under the curious title of "Factory Girls." They say some "alt-rock" guy from New Mexico "who used to loved Weezer" converted to the K-Pop gospel thanks to these girls. I can see why. Girl's Generation is like streaming candy through YouTube: they're so sweet and colorful. That's why they were featured on The Late Show With David Letterman where they debuted to American network television audiences looking like a less raunchy version of The Pussycat Dolls.
Now, I don't think I'd charge my credit card the $1.29 necessary to download their songs on iTunes, but I'd sure played the hell of it on YouTube. And not only to listen to it while I wrote this, but also to stop what I was doing to actually look at the video: a dying art form (at least in the U.S.) which is threatening to make a comeback with these acts' extremely well produced and elaborate videos. If Jersey Shore killed the video star, Psy is resuscitating it.
Besides the obvious Lady Gaga reference, Girl's Generation's "Paparazzi" is full of Western pop culture references such as opera music and the famous Gene Kelly scene from the classic 1952 musical film Singing in the Rain. The video, the group's largest yet with a set with over 30,000 light bulbs, 120 crew and cast, and 300 extras, was premiered in Shibuya, a district of Tokyo, Japan, on June 10, 2012. When both the official and dance versions were released to the public five days later, they received over 4 million views within two days of its upload, and over 9 million by the end of the week. Here's why: