The Parade of Nations is a long tradition at the Olympics, dating back to the '20s. Back then, the athletes stood up, country by country, and took an oath to compete with fairness. Of course, back then, there were only 29 countries competing. Now there are over 100. This portion can sometimes feel like it goes on forever, unless the host country soundtracks it with the right music. South Korea did us a solid by playing the viral hit "Gangnam Style" by PSY. The tweets about "Gangnam Style" that followed the tune proved that it definitely worked. After that, the audience was wide awake.
For those who may have forgotten the craze or missed it altogether somehow, the song "Gangnam Style" was the first major K-pop crossover into the United States that got major radio play. It was by South Korean musician PSY, and was the lead single of his sixth studio album, Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1. It was released in 2012 and by August of that year was a viral sensation on YouTube. While it did not go to No. 1 on the charts over here, it did in several other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the U.K. Even President Obama brought it up when he met with South Korean president Park Geun-hye in 2013, saying the success of the novelty hit here in the Western world was a sign that K-pop and Korean culture was making waves in our society. (He wasn't wrong. Korean food is the new biggest thing in U.S. culinary trends right now, for instance.)
For those wondering what in heaven's name the song's title means, the phrase "Gangnam Style" is a Korean neologism. It refers to "a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul" (the capital of South Korea).
Here's the video, for those who need to refresh their memories.
When the song, which basically disappeared from the collective consciousness by 2015, came on and the audience recognized it, Twitter went nuts. Despite the popularity of "Gangnam Style" and boy bands like BTS, the fact is, K-pop hasn't really penetrated the U.S. pop culture consciousness yet, and this was finally a song everyone recognized.
For some viewers, who were up at the crack of dawn to watch the live stream, this was better than a cup of coffee.
For others, only emojis would do to express their feelings in this moment.
It wasn't just Americans freaking out, either. Those watching in the U.K. were loving it too. (Though it wasn't quite a wake up for them, since the opening ceremony was airing at lunchtime there.)
As were those in France.
Some came ready with the cosplay. Because some bunnies are just always ready with the cosplay for every occasion.
Some were a little disappointed, as they wanted to hear new K-pop songs, not ones they already knew.
But most considered the song's inclusion inevitable.
And the rest just got up and danced their butts off.
Others loved the reaction down on the floor to the song.
Others hope that when the replay airs on NBC in prime time, those covering the event will have fun commentary.
But for some, this was one of the winning moments of South Korea hosting the games.
(Though personally I would say that came later when the two Koreas marched together under the unification flag for the first time since 2006. The standing ovation and the athletes with their arms around each other was a beautiful moment and symbol of hope in these times. Even if they didn't enter to "Gangnam Style.")
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live starting February 8.