(Reuters) - South Korean rapper Psy’s quirky viral hit “Gangnam Style” took the prize for top song on Wednesday at the 27th annual Golden Disk Awards, a Korean pop event dubbed the “Korean Grammys.”
The two-day celebration of all things K-pop, including performances by superstars such as the boy band Super Junior, was held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur before hordes of screaming fans, a testimony to the soaring popularity of Korean pop music around the world.
Nowhere has that been more apparent than with “Gangnam Style,” an infectious hit that made history last month when it became the first ever video on YouTube to reach 1 billion views, the latest record on the song’s surge into mainstream pop.
The tune won the Song of the Year award, the final prize.
The awards were only the latest accolades for Psy, 35, in what has been a whirlwind year for the chubby rapper, the first K-pop artist to achieve mainstream success in the United States as a result of “Gangnam Style.”
Decked out in a bow tie and suit jackets varying from pink to baby blue, and only a towel for one sequence set in a sauna, Psy raps in Korean and busts funky moves based on horse-riding in venues ranging from playgrounds to subways.
The song, released in July, was meant as a commentary on the rampant materialism of today’s South Korea - particularly in relation to the Gangnam section of the city, which Psy has termed Seoul’s Beverly Hills.
“My goal in this music video was to look uncool until the end. I achieved it,” Psy told Reuters in August.
The popularity of the song, which has prompted many copycat and parody videos, has added fuel to growing international interest in Asian pop music, especially the K-pop industry, which now aims to follow Psy into mainstream Western pop music.
Thanks to their youth, glowing image and the style of their songs and dances, K-pop fans have grown rapidly in Southeast Asia, formerly dominated by stars from the West as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan.
A Malaysian fan who queued for three days to get into the first night of the awards ceremony said she loved how the K-pop stars strived for perfection.
“K-pop stars have been working very hard, even before they make their first debut. They spend a lot of time practicing to become a perfect artist,” said the 20-something Tay Ching Ee. “This is what other artists should learn from them.”
The Golden Disk Awards began in 1986, with winners chosen based on album sales and digital downloads. The ceremony first ventured overseas in 2012, when it was held in Japan.
On Tuesday, the first night, Super Junior again won the best album award with their album “Sexy, Free & Single.” Boy band Shinee scooped the Most Popular Star prize.
Additional reporting by Angie Teo and Belinda Goldsmith; writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Patricia Reaney