Popular music can reach beyond the bounds of language barriers and affect people around the world with no translation at all. This phenomenon is exactly why a YouTube sensation named PSY became popular around the world, especially in the United States, for his hit “Gangnam Style.” Though his song is entirely in Korean, PSY has made appearances on the MTV Video Music Awards, the Today Show, Ellen, and Good Morning America to name a few. People have loved the song and the crazy video that accompanies it for months with no official English translation. However, the professional translation has just been released, and it sheds some light on both the song and the video.
The Meaning of the Song is Deeper than You Might Have Expected
Though the song is outrageously synthesized and clubby, it actually sheds light on a part of Korea that many Americans might not have known about. Essentially, the song is a tribute to the wealthy city of Gangnam in Seoul, Korea. Thanks to the professional translator who took the on the song, we learn that it implies that the ladies of Gangnam are much like the city itself. They are noble and respectable during the daytime, but crazy and exciting at night. While the song is admittedly a musical satire, many people know more about Gangnam now after reading the translation, or even the description of the translation.
The Translation Proves that Any Piece of Culture is Valuable
After reading the translation and learning a little bit more about Korea, we see that even the translation of a simple pop song can give us valuable insight into another country’s culture. This idea proves the importance of translation. Whether a German reality TV show is translated into Spanish or a Portuguese translation comes out for a popular Canadian book, small pieces of culture can be windows into other sectors of society. For example, we might not want to allow translations of Jersey Shore to hit the airwaves, but it is a piece of an American culture, whether we like it or not.
‘Gangnam Style’ could just be regarded as a silly viral song from Korea, but it can also be a considered a fun way to learn about a piece of Koran culture. PSY might not have had a learning experience in mind when he wrote his hit, but translation services have turned it into just that.