Is too much of a Gangnam thing a bad thing?
05.01.2013 - 04.02.2013
I love music. I am one of the many people in this world that can’t walk down the street without listening to his iPod. I take pride in my vinyl collection at home and one of my favourite pastimes is organising it and re-organising it, admiring the covers and inserts and touching the needle down pining for that familiar crackle before the first track.
My favourite band of all time is Pearl Jam. Without a doubt. Twenty three years now they have been making soulful tunes with the amazing voice of Eddie Vedder carrying them. I listen to them nearly every day. Because they have built up quite the back catalogue, I never get tired of them as I diversify between albums, their heavier rock tracks to their spiritual melodies… whatever I am in the mood for.
I believe I can speak confidently in saying that most Australians have a similar passion or if not at least a mild interest in music. Whether it’s those that listen to Hilltop Hoods or Hansen, Silverchair or the Spice Girls, Metallica or Modest Mouse, most Aussies have something they enjoy listening to. Just look at Triple J Hottest 100 Day for example. Oops sorry, I meant Australia Day… But all you Aussies reading this knew what I meant. One of the most historically important days for Australians has now been re-invented to all of us gathered around the wireless, beer in one hand, snag in the other, waiting with baited breath for the announcement of the number one hit of the past year. But I digress, my point has well and truly been reached now that we as a nation love music, and are fortunate enough to have many genres and tastes to choose from.
Imagine then, hearing the one song over and over. Not just what we complain about when we hear Kings of Leon three times a week. I’m talking about hearing the same song a dozen times a day… every day. Now imagine that the song you hear every day over and over is Gangnam Style. Yes, yes, I know it’s great and has excellent comic value when you are driving down the street and you see someone randomly rocking the horse manoeuvre, but believe it or not, it does get slightly repetitive. The locals can't get enough however, probably due to the fact that their choice for tunes is somewhat limited.
Laos has specific rules on the music that they are permitted to listen to. Up until 2003, the Lao government banned any “modern” music as it was just not the Lao way of things. This includes radio airplay and live music. “Saffire,” a heavy metal band that rebelled and decided to play their kind of music anyway, had their plug pulled faster than a Nitschke patient. However, the government (bless their cotton socks) did allow for the introduction of “Lao Pop,” which often involves songs about farming, crops, the weather etc, incorporating one dance move which involves lots of slow wrist movement and swaying. Another interesting point of note regarding the government is that it has final say on a ditty before it is released. For example if I wrote a song, the chorus would say “I love you baby, but not as much as I love cheese.” The Lao government would review this before release, and they have the power to change it to “I love you baby, but not as much as I love the M.P from Vientiane.” Therefore, the licence to your creative freedom is still in the grasp of “The Man.” In saying this, they will never take away my love for a good camembert.
There is still really only a handful of Lao pop artists at the moment, so this combined with some imported Thai pop allows for little diversity in the local’s collections.
If only they had something new, something different. If only…
“Oppan gang-namseutayil! Whoop whoop whoop, whoop whoop!” Crazy dance moves and a catchy tune came blasting across the air waves from South Korea, taking Lao music and it’s people by storm. Imagine the karaoke bars back to their full potential, the peaceful Lao folk tearing at each other to open their voice-boxes down the microphone and bust out the moves. A veritable musical revolution is on the horizon and people all over South East Asia are holding their heads high as they sing “Heeeeeey sexy lady!”
Hopefully this is a new day and the Lao government open their hearts and loosen their stranglehold on the music community. I have a dream that just over the horizon, Laos and all of her people will be listening to the likes of One Direction, Kisschasey, and do I dare to dream, yes I dare… Beiber.
Hmm, then again maybe too much of a Gangnam thing is a good thing.