A new song is currently taking South Korea by storm, and it’s not by Girls’ Generation. After just one week at the top, the Divine Nine’s latest single, “I Got a Boy,” was dethroned from the top of the K-pop charts by Jung Hyung Don’s new novelty hit, “Gangbuk Cool Guy.” The 34-year-old comedian is a household name in Korea, but isn’t well-known among your typical international K-pop fans, leaving many wondering just how this “Gangbuk Cool Guy” song was seemingly able to come out of nowhere and outshine Girls’ Generation’s mighty comeback.
Jung Hyung Don currently stars on Infinity Challenge, Korea’s highest-rated variety show. It’s consistently led the ratings for years now, and at its peak, is seen by about one in five of all television viewers. “Gangbuk Cool Guy” was written and produced by another one of Infinity Challenge’s stars, Park Myung Soo, and is featured on the latest soundtrack to the series. The song was developed as both a satire and a challenger to PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” with Gangbuk referring to the trendy Seoul district that sits opposite Gangnam. The districts are separated by the Han River, and “Gangbuk Cool Guy” plays on the lighthearted rivalry between the two areas with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about how cool the guys in Gangbuk are. (Just in case you couldn’t tell from the title…)
Musically, “Gangbuk Cool Guy” isn’t much different from “Gangnam Style.” Both songs are LMFAO-style club pop sung by portly middle-aged Korean men with bangin’ electro breakdowns for hooks. “Gangbuk Cool Guy” also comes complete with its own catchy choreography, which is really just a Frankensteinian mish-mash of famous dance moves stitched together (primarily exaggerated voguing.) For a recent performance of the hit on Music Core, Jung Hyung Don even wore the same floral tracksuit as 2NE1′s Dara, poking harmless fun at the questionable style of some of PSY’s YG labelmates.
“Gangbuk Cool Guy” is still outselling “I Got a Boy” on the real-time charts, but not everyone is a fan of the song. The Korea Entertainment Producer′s Association (KEPA) recently released a lengthy statement accusing MBC, the network that broadcasts Infinity Challenge, of unfairly monopolizing the music market — not surprising considering that Infinity Challenge currently has four songs in the official top 10. It’s a long and complicated argument, but KEPA essentially claims that the broadcast media has an unfair advantage given its huge television platform, deep pockets, and influence over the entertainment industry as a whole, and that by using it to dominate the music market, they’ll actually hurt the domestic music scene and in turn damage the hallyu wave.
Anyway, push the drama aside for a moment and check out “Gangbuk Cool Guy” in action below. Do you think it’s worthy of beating Girls’ Generation?