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Kolaveri Di vs. Gangnam Style

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

“Why this Kolaveri, Kolaveri, Kolaveri Di?” was on everybody’s lips in 2011 and in the early months of 2012 too. The video pictured the song recording within the confines of a recording studio involving just five people in all, including the singer Dhanush, the music com­poser, the heroine and the director of the movie, which featured the song. The tune and catchy lines sung in Tamil and English to a slow rhythm along with the simple video made quick headlines.
Released in 2011, the song went viral on social networking sites and became the most searched Youtube video in India and an In­ternet sensation across Asia. Youtube recognized the video with a “Recently Most Popular” gold medal award and a “Trending” silver medal award as it received a large number of hits in such a short time.
Then came ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012 sung by PSY, with fast music, bright colors, numerous artists, entertaining dance moves, bold cos­tumes, psychedelic lights, opulence, grandeur and fast moving video set against a plethora of backgrounds.
Made for K-pop audiences in South Korea, ‘Gangnam Style’ hit the music circuit in July 2012 and quickly went viral with more than 950 million views as of December 2012 on Youtube, skyrocketing beyond the reach of Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’.
The uniqueness of the Kolaveri tune was the Tamil way of singing English lyrics. English words were used in a new context. The word “soup” did not refer to a broth but to the condition of a jilted lover boy. The fair-skinned girl is accused of having a dark heart for dumping this guy. “Why this murderous rage?” he asks her.
“Gangnam Style” became a household name like ‘Kolaveri’, and it refers to the upscale life style of people in the Gangnam district of Seoul. Although the residents them­selves do not boast of any such style, they are considered hip by others who are desirous to show off. The song itself does not make fun of the people from Gangnam but it is taking a dig at people who put up false pretenses. The song also refers to a girlfriend who chang­es her behaviour according to the situation. The video also makes fleeting ref­erences to various style statements.
“Why This Kolaveri Di” is enriched with mu­sic from folk instruments like urumee and thavil drums and traditional ones like the na­daswaram, shehnai, saxophone, along with modern instruments like the acoustic guitar and the keyboard. The music is layered and progresses smoothly, ending in a crescendo. ‘Gangnam Style’ starts with fast music and slows down a little before picking up the fast beat and ending with a flourish. Its bold dance movements, the dance duel, and visuals captured viewer attention like never before.
Critics apart, both the songs have spawned imitations and paro­dies, with people launching their own versions to showcase their opinions, political affiliation and other social issues. The Kolaveri Di tune was used by political parties during election campaigns and by the police department to promote safe practices on roads in India. BBC and Time magazine reported about the crossover world appeal this song delivered with its trendy music and simple lyrics.
Business schools in India have conducted debates and case studies on the success of the song, its unique marketing style and launch, etc. From the ‘beating the retreat’ music to a child’s milk version, Kolaveri Di came full circle before being usurped from the throne by ‘Gangnam Style.’
If the makers of Kolaveri gave lectures in IIM-Ahmedabad, a pre­mier business school in India, then PSY spoke at Oxford University. If the Indian Prime Minister invited the Kolaveri singer for dinner, then here we have the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announc­ing that the Gangnam Style song is a ‘force for world peace.’
Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt and British Prime Min­ister David Cameron, besides others, danced a step or two in public for Gangnam Style, which gained greater prominence with a film titled “Gangnam for Freedom”. Gangnam came to mean ‘freedom of expression.’
When an American in Washington hummed the tunes to Kolaveri Di at work, Indians were amused to no end and now they are all rapping to Gangnam Style, which is sung in the Korean language. Irrespective of the differences, one thing stays common to both the videos.
It is none other than music, that which can transcend boundaries of region, religion and language. The singers Dhanush of Kolaveri Di and Park Jae-sang, popularly known as PSY of Gangnam Style, have become overnight sensations thanks to their unique songs and mar­keting prowess

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