A heavy metal rap song is in the news today because "Gangnam Style" superstar Psy sang it; it was not an original song of his. It's from the Korean heavy metal band N.EX.T, a band that is known for its socially and environmentally conscious lyrics and anti-capitalism of the kind that is characterized by excessive consumerism.
You can listen to the heavy metal rap song, called "Dear American," here -- it is completely in Korean.
The song opens with the sounds of a semi-automatic gun, a reverberating clang of Asian-style cymbals, then the sounds of a muezzin calling Muslims to prayer by reciting verses from the Koran.
It is basically an angry rant, a call to kill, and it roughly translates to:
Kill those fucking Yankees who've been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those fuckers who ordered them to torture
And kill their family members, daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill, kill, kill... very slowly and painfully
If the song is against torture, it's got a strange way of getting the message across: The lyrics appear to be advocating torture, and specifically that which is practiced on American troops and commanders who have been complicit in torture themselves. Perhaps the members of N.EX.T are "by any means necessary" social activists?
It's all a bit too much for many in the American media who wonder why the biggest YouTube star in the world is allowed to perform at the annual "Christmas in Washington" fundraiser on December 21, which the President of the United States and his family will be attending, now that the world knows Psy was against the Iraq War and publicly participated in protests against American troops in his country.
See, Psy performed this song or part of the song at two different South Korean protests. In 2002 he performed it at a protest geared against the massive presence of U.S. troops in his country and the crimes they have been known to commit -- usually with impunity -- against local Koreans who live near their base.
Yes, Koreans protesting against Americans is not a rare occurrence and Psy's fame has brought attention to that for many Americans.
In 2004, he performed the song at a protest against the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the terrorism it has bred which affected people from other countries, namely, South Korea.
Considering how he's become an American media darling -- with all the dividends that conjures -- Psy has taken it upon himself to address the controversy today with this statement:
As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world. The song in question -- from eight years ago -- was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. While I'm grateful for the freedom to express one's self I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.
I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months -- including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them -- and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it's important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology."
Carefully written, the apology -- boldly, considering the sentiment today -- does not apologize for being anti-war. What it does is declare his maturity in the eight years since the last performance: He basically says he's learned to express himself less aggressively.
The statement also expresses gratitude and affinity for the American people, adding a few touches of sympathy for the "sacrifices" of U.S. troops abroad.
The 2012 Psy is about neon wigs, funky dance moves and catchy, English-language pop phrases, but he is not ashamed of having been anti-war. He's likely still anti-war but it would be pushing it for him to get into the nitty-gritty of political dynamics now, at a time when most people -- certainly most Americans -- would rather he just did his weird dance and belted out that bit about "Gangnam style."
But whatever Psy says, his bold anti-war rapping has placed him in a new light for many people worldwide who previously only saw him as a kooky little K-pop star.