Rock Me 99 Macarena Gangnam Balloons! – Where Is The Pattern?


Hmmmmmm…how do they relate?  There’s got to be some reason all of these years are popping up.  I wasn’t that bad at these types of SAT problems in the past, so there must be something…

I’m thinking that there HAS to be something in common or some sort of pattern with all of these years because these are the three most recent times that I can think of where some random, quirky, odd-video-having song that’s not in English seems to sweep across a huge swath of the planet (sometimes with a dance) and has everyone from kids to teenagers to parents and to grandparents faux-singing along to it.  The hit pattern  seems to move from the song being a reasonable or big hit in a non-native English speaking country among the intended demographic, then, somehow, it goes international and hits another reasonably aged group.  Then things go off the rails and it starts to trickle to middle-aged people, then square TV shows, then grandmas, then weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs.  (By the last two stages, all “cool” has been drained from the song and can never be put back into it.)

The latest song to fall into this international cultural soup is out of South Korea by the group PSY entitled Gangnam Style . (You can click that link to get to it.)  I’d seen this video about a month or so ago and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  It was just crazy.  I knew I didn’t understand ANYTHING that was going on, but I knew that I liked it.  Not understanding what was going on had almost nothing to do with the fact that I don’t speak more than 4 words of Korean either.  I lived in Japan for a whole year and there were innumerable times that I was in a situation where I couldn’t understand the language, but I could tell what was going on.  The day-glow, over-the-top visuals and “storyline” were so car-wreck eye-catching that I had no way to turn away.  I immediately I got the feeling that this thing was going to be big for a long time.

Now since I have to, sadly, qualify myself at just about middle age, I know that this song must have been around for some time and that the shark jumping phase would be upon the world very quickly.  And I see that Fonzie just touched down on the big US morning chat show Today at about 9:00am Eastern Daylight Time:  The Today Show Kills Gangnam Style’s Cool Forever

I would say that I’m sorry for PSY for loosing all of their cool points through no fault of their own, but they’re about to get richer, so I don’t care.

Now the other years that I’m talking about something similar happening were 1994, when Los Del Rio and The Macarena had a bunch of people on the planet bailando, and then, to a lesser extent, ten years earlier in 1984/1985 got the whole world hearing more German than most people would have been comfortable with 40 years before with Nena and 99 Luft Balons and also Falco with Rock Me Amadeus.

Now I make the distinction between songs that are big around the world in non-English languages because, maybe unfairly, English language songs go global fairly frequently.  There seems to need to be some respite that the English speaking world needs before it’s ready to jump all over a song not their own tongue.

So I think I need help from the Internet Tube community.  Can you 1) let me know if there are other big non-English songs that went Earth-wide crazy and 2) what the pattern is with the years that these songs have come out so that we can all better prepare for the next wave?