Why Bill O’Reilly Got Gangnam Style Wrong

It pains me to write this because  I know I am one of the lone conservatives in the expat community in Korea. I watch the O’Reilly Factor nearly every morning for a conservative spin on the news. I am not solely informed by O’Reilly; I am a big reader of the New York Times (quoted quite often in some of my posts) and I enjoy watching liberal commentators like Rachel Maddows and Bill Maher. However, when I want a conservative take on issues, I enjoy listening to Bill O’Reilly.  I think many people, whether liberal or conservative, enjoy his show. Nevertheless, the one area where O’Reilly remains completely misinformed is music and pop culture. He has a track record of embarrassing himself when he addresses popular music (see O’Reilly and Jon Stewart discuss Common) and his accusations often lack any credibility or logic. Unfortunately, O’Reilly’s greatest gaffe thus far is his recent heartless and uninformed commentary about Psy.

In a five-minute clip, O’Reilly showed a short portion of “Gangnam Style” and explained to his senior audience (the people who will never watch the video) that the music video is the most watched video of all time (over 800 million views). Next, he welcomed an obviously brilliant (the completely clueless Keith Ablow) psychologist from Boston to help explain why the video is so popular.

There were a number of obvious and logical explanations available for this brain trust of pop culture; yet, they chose the only uninformed and illogical explanation that takes a beautiful, transcendent,  international success and transforms it into opium for the masses. In their view, “Gangnam Style” is a success because it’s meaningless and people watch it so they can feel numb. According to O’Reilly, the world wants to become zombies, and the zombie apocalypse begins by watching “Gangnam Style.”   Do you think I’m kidding? Watch the segment for yourself.

For O’Reilly to erroneously proclaim that “Gangnam Style” has no meaning is irresponsible. If he is going to make such a bold and fresh statement, he and his writers should at least google the song and search for its meaning. If O’Reilly did this, he would discover an irony-laced song criticizing the materially excessive culture of South Korea. Psy did not only create a hit song, he bravely criticized his country in a country that does not receive criticism as well as the United States. O’Reilly practices bad journalism when he dismisses Psy’s song as meaningless to listeners because it is in a foreign language. Furthermore, he insulted the entire world in the process. When was it a requirement for entertainment to be in English or to fulfill a quota for “meaning?” O’Reilly should not dismiss trends just because he doesn’t personally understand them or because he doesn’t think they live up to his idols – The Beach Boys.

If O’Reilly had completed any research on Psy, he would have learned Psy just finished his sixth album.  No one completes six different albums without any talent or substance. Psy has worked diligently to bring respect and positive awareness to South Korea.  He has paid his dues to be successful.  Furthermore, he finally accomplished what so many K-Pop stars have failed and longed to do – conquer the west.  Psy deserved more than to be referred to as the “little fat guy from Pyongyang” (the capital of North Korea-so insulting).  Unfortunately, O’Reilly decided to ignore facts and reinforce the belligerent and ignorant stereotype of Americans that expats like myself fight every day to dispel.

Nonetheless, I believe O’Reilly is a good guy and simply erred in this situation. Since O’Reilly is a common sense, no-nonsense, no-spin guy, I decided to lend him and his writing team five common sense reasons for “Gangnam Style’s” meteoric rise.  These hard to ascertain reasons are more accurate and plausible than his explanation of a world gone numb.

Gangnam Style is Funny

People like to laugh and have a good time. Psy’s video makes people laugh and have a good time. This is one of the primary reasons entertainment exists. Things that are really funny tend to be really popular.

Celebrity Power

“Gangnam Style” blew up on the Internet, but early tweets from celebrities like T-Pain, Josh Groban, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry accelerated the awareness and popularity of the video. Even Nelly Furtado performed a version of “Gangnam Style” when touring in the Philippines.

Catchy Song

People like good music. “Gangnam Style” is an extremely catchy song, and good songs tend to be popular.

People like dancing

People like to dance and good dance songs tend to be popular. Did O’Reilly not see the crowd’s reaction to the “Gangnam Style” at Dodger Stadium? The crowd didn’t want to feel numb; they wanted to dance.


One of my friends watched Psy’s performance at City Hall in Seoul and several Korean journalist asked him why the “fat” Psy was so much more popular than attractive K-pop groups and singers. My friend mentioned the answers above, but he also mentioned something profound – Psy is relatable. Psy is not a model; he is a slightly overweight guy who likes to dance, stare at beautiful women, have a good time, and makes people smile. I’m no psychologist from Massachusetts, but who can’t relate to that? Everyone in the world loves to see the average guy succeed.


This was the most shocking of O’Reilly’s criticism. He claimed the song didn’t mean anything. This upsets me because Psy’s other music is either very patriotic or very meaningful. Additionally,  the “Gangnam Style” video is very critical of the obsession of wealth in South Korea. Do people in the world dislike excessive wealth? If anyone understands the popular appeal of this concept, it should be O’Reilly who fights class warfare on a daily basis.

I believe these five simple reasons are far more factual and plausible than O’Reilly’s explanation. Plus, I don’t think the world is going numb. The world likes to dance and smile like it always has. That’s just my opinion – no spin.

(side note – This article has made some rounds on reddit and a lot of people have commented that PSY claimed his song has no meaning.  I’ve yet to see an actual report of this while papers like the New York Times agree with my opinion that the video is at least a subtle, cultural critique.  I admit, nothing in the lyrics of “Gangnam Style” critique Korea.  However, the video and the work as a whole are obviously mocking the perceived “Gangnam lifestyle.”)

Additional Information

What does Gangnam Style Mean? – By Erica Han Jin

Gangnam Style Dissected by The Atlantic


15 Comments Add yours

  1. Bernard says:

    Why KIMCHIBYTES got O’Reilly all wrong

    I am a real conservative (German: “erz-konservatif”) who loves culture and arts that really have values. Being Asian myself, I admire very highly world-renowned Korean artists like Kyung Hwa Chung (violinist), Yo-yo Ma (cellist), Sarah Chang (violinist), as well as Korean sopranos Sumi Jo and Hei-Kyung Hong. However, in contradiction to Kimcheebyte, for PSY and his Gangnam Style I have no regards, whatsoever. The reason is short and easy: Gangnam Style has no meaning, is senseless (nonsense), and therefore has no value, whatsoever! Good music does not need lyrics or words. This is because emotional message is conveyed by the music alone. Best examples are instrumental music and opera, where the audience does not need to understand even a single word to comprehend the emotional message conveyed by the aria. If Kimcheebyte (Erica Han Jin) disagrees, she should better do her homework first. Contrary to Kimcheebyte’s own admission, it has to be doubted very much if Kimcheebyte is a conservative at all. Her opinions show just the opposite.
    Let us analyze her points one by one:

    Gangnam Style is Funny ?
    NO ! Gangnam Style isn’t funny at all. It is just OBNOXIOUS!
    That’s why Gangnam Style is catchy and popular.
    However, not everything catchy and/or popular is also “good.”
    Only MORONS would confuse these two completely different values!

    Celebrity Power ?
    YES ! This is because most celeberities love power but do not possess any skill or accomplishment to achieve their goals. They are literally pathological megalomaniac. Like Obama, who is also just a celebrity, but a big zero in everything else, including human values. In his professional life Obama has evidently failed to learn any skill and/or make any accomplishment. He has persistently failed in the past four years of his celebrity presicency. Obviously, Kimcheebyte reveals herself as a super-liberal disguised as self-proclaimed conservative, just like Obama deceiving the American people by revealing himself as Muslim racist disguised with “al Taqiya.” In this aspect Madonna is right (by naming him Black Muslim in the Whitehouse). Keep up with your good work, Madonna!

    Catchy Song ?
    Kimcheebyte says: “Gangnam Style” is an extremely catchy song, and “good” songs tend to be popular ? (Two blunders in a single sentence!.)
    NO ! Gangnam Style is “catchy” just because it is obnoxious.
    What criteria has been used by Kimcheebyte to value Gangnam Style as “good”?
    One cannot use rubbish crieria to judge a rubbish song (rubbish in terms of genuine art), unless Kimcheebyte herself is rubbish, as well. Right here we have clear evidence that Kimcheebyte is not a “lone conservative,” but only a value-ignorant stubborn liberal.

    People like dancing ?
    YES. It explains why Gangnam Style is popular. But it does not explain why it is “good,” or what it means, after all. A plausible explanation is here given by O’Reilly and his Psychiatrist, Keith Ablow: Gangnam Style is only good for morons who are DUMB, and consequently also NUMB, to artistic values, hoping to heal their insufficiency by acting out their frustration. If they donot act it out, they will soon need to go to Mental Asylum.

    Relatable ?
    Kimcheebyte says: “Everyone in the world loves to see the average guy succeed” ?
    Really? I would rather say: Average guy will not succeed! Only superior guys will succeed. Obama seems to “succeed” despite his obvious inferiority merely because of inferior mainstream media and inferior voters like Kimcheebyte and his cohorts.

    Message ?
    Kimcheebyte says: “This was the most shocking of O’Reilly’s criticism. He claimed the song didn’t mean anything. This upsets me (Kimcheebyte) because Psy’s other music is either very patriotic or very meaningful.”

    Well, actually it is only shocking to morons, for they have just now discovered their moron-ness! I repeat: Good music is full of meanings. They convey emotional message without using words. Only LOW QUALITY music needs words (lyrics) to convey the message.


    1. ErnieLG says:

      this dude is a moron! you shame other asians by considering yourself intelligent!


  2. Phew, I hope you feel better. I didn’t know this “kimcheebyte’s” person was a girl. I hope she’s hot!


  3. Will McLatchey says:

    Why dumb people really shouldn’t respond to blogs?

    See Bernard’s comment above.

    P.S.: Erroneously calling out the writer is my favorite part, thank you for the good laugh.


    1. Make sure to visit his website; I guarantee it will give you a seizure.


  4. Ryan Churchill says:

    Is one of Bernard’s retorts that any song with “lyrics” is low quality and those that listen to it are “MORONS”? So songs that preach patience, kindness, selflessness, unity, etc. with lyrics are less then decent? While I am in no way trying to be condescending of Bernard or Yo Yo MA or Sarah Chang, as I believe everyone is entitled to have a voice, his purely misguided rant left me perplexed. I almost feel as if it was his goal to rile people up, and not so much as having a fluid thought. Also his attack on not only PSY but the mysterious Kimchibytes, Obama (labeling him a racist Muslim with a quote from a singer who uses lyrics), music with lyrics, average guys (like Bernard and myself) and Americans who have a political stance, became just a solid mess of insults with no real counter or rebuttal. To say that Mr./Mrs./Miss Kimchibytes is not a conservative because he/she gave their opinion of why something rare occurred (an artist who sings in a different language becoming popular globally) is utterly foolish. Gangnam style has recently become the most watched youtube video of all time. No one can reject this fact. It was just an attempt at understanding why it happened.
    P.S. to Bernard: if you have a better reason for why Psy and his Gangnam Style dance and song have become a worldwide hit, discounting of course mind-control, then I hope I’m speaking for everyone – we would love to hear it. In ending: A wise sports show host (Jim Rome) once said “Have a take…Don’t suck!”


  5. Bernard says:

    I am quite amused reading the comments from some morons like you. Here are my corresponding replies:

    To ErnieLG, the moron here is YOU, Erniel G.; This is because my immigration to USA was desired and also sponsored by the US by virtue of my ACCOMPLISHMENTS, to help rescue this great country from imminent downfall perpetrated by immigrants like you..
    To brentdsheffield, you got seizure surely because your brain is too primitive to comprehend all the stuff I put in there. Be careful, your personal evolution is going backwards!
    To Ryan Churchill, I feel sorry to find you as one of those Americans who have lost their cultural heritage! Obviously, your level of understanding music is too low to enjoy the great culture of your European ancestors. It is terribly mistaken (based on nothing else but pure prejudice) to think that different opinions on music and culture are of equal values. One of the reasons is that today’s music “experts” donot understand music beyond mere technicalities. Genuine musicians understand, and also feel, that patience, kindness, selflessness, unity, etc. are NOT ONLY expressed in lyrics, but mainly and inherently, also in the music itself! This explains the strong emotional impacts of INSTRUMENTAL music of Vivaldi and Bach over Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. True music lovers will certainly agree that many opera arias, such as from Puccini’s La Boheme and Verdi’s La Traviata, manage to make the audience shed tears WITHOUT INDERSTANDING A SINGLE WORD OF THE LYRICS (because they are in Italian). This also explains why those kind of music lives forever (Vivaldi 1678 –1741, JS Bach 1685 –1750), i.e., as long as the humankind itself. Very much unlike POP music, which will soon die out and be forgotten as soon as their generation passed away.
    With young generations like you, and those others who have erroneously voted a celebrity president for a second term, your future generation will inevitably fall into backward development and have your culture reduced to primitive African “music”, and “philosophy,” such as Oprah’s New Age religion, which are actually nothing but trash in comparison to our great cultural heritage. Please be aware, popularity does not make anything great, or even good, let alone of high value. Fortunately, the Wikipedia still defines the following:
    “Popular culture is often viewed as being trivial and dumbed-down in order to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream”
    Logically, since over 50% of the mainstream population are made of mediocres, pop culture is – at best- of mediocre value.


  6. Ryan says:

    Can’t argue with you when you start quoting/referencing wikipedia article! I assume you know wikipedia is an open sourced medium! Also maybe a little fact checking might help you make you outlandish claims. I cannot for the sake of me fathom losing my AMERICAN heritage! Music will always be based on its audience! If Beethoven never had anyone to listen to him, you and I would not know who he was. If a group or artist or genre have an audience and they are making money then they are somehow contributing to society. You however, with your blatant attacks on people for having an opinion (calling people morons, and racist comments about people born from another country are just not warranted. As far as we know, you sit on your ass all day responding to blog posts such as this. Someone teaching in a foreign country, helping children learn a new language is doing something quite important – helping future elites in this world converse with a large group of people (english speakers) that they would have otherwise been shut off from. I am sure we will all be waiting on the edge of our seats for your reply Bernard! Peace


    1. Dude, you just murdered Bernard. By murder, I mean you used logic and words to make him look stupid. I wanted to clarify since he has a hard time interpreting nuances and reality.


    2. Bernard says:

      My reply to Ryan Churchill:
      Regarding your comment on my referring to Madonna in calling your President “Black Muslim in the White House”, I cannot help to be quite amazed –but also amused- by your mob mentality, or mildly expressed, herd behavior. Until I realized you are a mere product of a degenerate society. Admittedly, only a handful of exceptionally qualified personalities may manage to escape entrapment by their degenerated society. In this regard, you – Ryan Churchill – are a product of such a degenerate and decadent society. Your claim of “MY (American) heritage” (i.e., claiming a heritage only of yours, while excluding my rightful participation, which is unconstitutional) is a fake that is obvious to everyone. In case you meant “political heritage”, the only great American heritage that we all admire and own, is the American Constitution, which has been derived from European Enlightenment (John Locke, Voltaire, etc.) to which I stand as conservative. It was not mere accidental, when Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin personally participated in the French Revolution of 1789. Also donot forget that our Lady of Liberty has been a tribute from the French enlightenment movement. Even worse still, you liberals are trying very hard to REVISE or even demolish OUR Constitution, including the interpretation of the word “natural born” citizen, against which you have elected a president who fails to qualify, for being unable to show any credible evidence. In general, in case “political heritage” is what you meant, you should be a member or a supporter of the Tea Party, such that there should be no reason for us to stand here as adversaries, because I count myself as one of those patriotic Americans. However, it becomes much worse if you meant CULTURAL heritage. For, –just by virtue of your arguments alone-, you evidently have lost all your rights of inheritance, i.e., the European culture, including music. Not enough with willfullly abandoning your heritage, but in exchange you even have embraced a culture of much lower values, such as Oprah’s New Age Religion and New Age Science, resulting in unbridled release of evil feelings such as hatred, jelaousy, envy, racism and jihad.
      As to your specific argument, I am just wondering, how ignorance you are with the music world outside your own pop-music culture of today! Why did you say Beethoven has no audience? Even much older Vivaldi and Bach are still drawing large(st) audience in concert halls today. This is an irrefutable evidence for your totally confusing pop-music with art-music, just like confusing comic drawings with master works of Titan, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci.
      So much for making fun of you and your nonsensical Gangnam Style. Let us now get serious in intellectual discussion, of course only if you are capable of. I am neither bluffing nor boasting when I said I immigrated to USA not on forged birth certificate and/or faked social security number, but instead, on invitation by some authorities of the US govenrment, complete with security clearance, to contribute and help saving this great country from a general decline, in science and technology and in culture as well.
      Upon my arrival in USA, the first literature recommended by my supervisor was Allan Bloom’s: “The Closing of the American Mind” (Simon & Schuster, New York 1987), where you will find that what is today so highly praised by liberals as “open-mindedness” has paradoxically led to “Closed-mindedness,” as referenced in the book’s title. You will further read that “Pop music employs sexual images and language to enthrall the young and to persuade them that their petty rebelliousness is authentic politics, when, in fact, they are being controlled by the money-managers whom successful performers like Mike Jagger quietly serve.”

      As of late, my view finds further support from conservative authors, such as Bill O’Reilly from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, as well as from strong personalities such as Donald Trump. Without being Catholic and without referring to any Bible scriptures, I independently arrived at exactly to the same conclusion regarding your degenerated generation as in:

      R. Holllerman: “Dick Clark and the Degeneration of a Generation”

      Vic Biorseth (Nov. 23, 2012): “The New Degenerate Generations of America,”

      … inasmuch as we donot need Neo-Platonic philosophy to derive the same conclusion as

      Lyndon Larouche in: “We Are Now Living on the Brink of Hell”


  7. Bernard- btw, your website looks horrible.


    1. Bernard says:

      You donot have right to comment, let alone criticize, if you donot have one (website) of your own. Shame on you, brentdsheffield!


      1. On Kimchibytes, look to the left of the page. Click on about me (Brent Bytes). You make conservatives like myself look really bad.


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