The ‘Gangnam Style’ Effect: 5 Foreign Artists Due for American Stardom

Historians will look back on July 15, 2012, as the day when ‘Gangnam Style’ was introduced to the general public. In just over three months, the clip has netted more than 471 million views on YouTube alone, and the song’s performer, Psy, has evolved from a minor celebrity in his home country of South Korea into an international sensation. Could this be the dawn of a new era, whereby eccentric foreign artists can hold rank alongside Americans, Brits and Canadians in the pop music world? If so, here are some certifiably insane musicians who are long overdue for global stardom.

Black Debbath
If you fancy yourself a metal fan but have never banged your head to this fearsome foursome from Norway, then may Thor’s hammer strike you where you stand. To the average American listener, humorous tunes like ‘The Vikings (Pioneers of Rock)’ and ‘Martin Scancke (The Coolest Man in Norway)’ sound like the greatest songs Tenacious D never wrote. But Lars, Aslag, Egil and Ole are no strangers to controversy, thanks to the numerous political statements they’ve made during press conferences and onstage for the last 15 years.

Jay Chou
The resume of this Taiwanese Renaissance Man’s reads like that of a multi-talented superstar. Since 2000, he’s released a new album every year but one – and each EP has sold millions of copies (primarily in Asia). In addition to singing (and, for extra points, writing his own material), Chou is also a film actor, director and producer. So why hasn’t his career taken off stateside? It may have to do with his certifiably insane videos like the one for ‘Dragon Rider’ posted below – though we, for one, thought it was purely awesome.

Róisín Murphy
Ms. Murphy’s been in the business for a while now. From 1995 to 2006, she formed half of the electronic duo, Moloko, with her ex-boyfriend – but unless you’re Irish, a raver or a proud owner of the Batman & Robin soundtrack, then you probably haven’t heard them. For her debut album, she sampled sounds from everyday objects, including cosmetic items, dancing feet and… brass mice? Anyway, her second album placed high on the UK pop charts, and a third EP is in the works. In the era of Lady Gaga and (ugh) Ke$ha, there’s no reason why this fashionable free spirit shouldn’t be just as popular.

Batman Samini
On name alone, this Ghanaian crooner should have hit it big in the U.S. by now (Christopher Nolan really missed out on some cross-promotional opportunities). The self-ascribed “African dancehall” artist has enjoyed a healthy reputation in West Africa since he was 18, and has won numerous Ghana Music Awards over the years. And boy, does he look fun to hang out with or what? Note how many modes of transportation he uses in the video for his hit single, ‘Sweet Mistake’.

How influential were Dre and Snoop? Well, judging by this video from Mongolian rap duo 2HUU, it’s safe to say the West Coast style has taken root just about everywhere. These guys aren’t alone, either. The Mongolian hip-hop scene has been alive and kicking for several years. Hmm… you have to wonder how these guys would fare at the Source Awards. And are we crazy, or is this beat really catchy?

By Brad Nehring