Move over Harvard—“Call Me Maybe” was so last semester.
Just as the Crimson baseball team created a parody video of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song last year—which has since garnered more than 16 million views on YouTube—the Duke wrestling team made a video of its own, satirizing South Korean pop sensation Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”
“We’ve been hitting up all the sporting events trying to get the Duke wrestling name out,” redshirt sophomore wrestler Brandon Gambucci said. “We’re trying to do a lot of big things this year.”
The original video for “Gangnam Style” has become increasingly popular in the United States and now has more than 340 million views on YouTube. And now it has found a special home in Duke culture, beyond when it is played at Shooters II.
For Julia Park, a junior and native of Gangnam—a neighborhood of Seoul, South Korea—it has been amusing to see how the song has become so popular in the United States.
“I thought it was really interesting that the American students at Duke were taking it upon themselves to make a parody of the video, even before the Korean students did,” she said. “In Korea listening to American pop songs was really popular, but I never thought at Duke a Korean pop song would get this popular.”
The wrestling team has wanted to make a parody video as a publicity stunt since last year, and thought the popularity of “Gangnam Style” provided the perfect opportunity. The video, which was originally the brainchild of redshirt freshman Trey Adamson and sophomore Tanner Hough, features members of the team dancing around Duke’s campus in their wrestling unitards, led by one person in a blue body suit.
The wrestlers insisted on keeping the person in the body suit anonymous, though the tightness of the suit only leaves his face to the imagination.
“Blue Steel’s identity is a mystery to everybody on campus,” Gambucci said.
And in the effort to make the video a hit, members of the team did not hold anything back. The video features plenty of gyrating, gesticulating and grinding across Duke’s campus, in addition to Psy’s now-famous “Gangnam Style” dance.
“We have a lot of provocative individuals on the team,” Gambucci said.
The video was filmed prior to the homecoming football game against Memphis and shows the athletes dancing on the main quad, in front of the Duke Chapel, in Perkins Library, in the elevator of the Schwartz-Butters Building and on the Bryan Center Plaza.
They did not, however, take the elevator all the way up to the top floor to dance in men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s office, as much as video director Dak Adamson, a senior, would have liked to do so.
“It would’ve been cool to get a clip of us dancing in his office,” Adamson said.
People witnessing the filming clearly got a rise out of the antics. One scene—which Adamson said was not originally planned—involves a female spectator pointing repeatedly to Gambucci’s thrusting hips in a close-up shot.
Another scene shows the wrestlers dancing in and around an unsuspecting tour group.
“We rampaged them,” Adamson said. “A couple of people were mad but one guy actually pulled out his phone and started filming us…. Who doesn’t want to come to a school where ‘Gangnam Style’ is all over the place?”
The video now has nearly 40,000 views on YouTube and has been featured a number of other places. The Huffington Post embedded the video on its website with a short article and Flowrestling—one of the biggest wrestling media outlets—separately uploaded it, which accounts for an additional 15,000 views, Gambucci said. Gambucci worked at Flowrestling this past summer.
Gambucci also tweeted the team’s video at Olympic gold medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs, who then retweeted it to his 56,000 followers and added, “Who needs Harvard Baseball when we have Duke Wrestling!?!”
Gambucci said they also submitted it to “Tosh.0,” a popular show on the Comedy Central network that features online content, but they have yet to hear back.
Although the video is goofy by nature and popular by nurture, it fosters a camaraderie that is at the core of the team, first-year head coach Glen Lanham said. Additionally, he said it could help with recruiting efforts by showing that Duke’s wrestlers are student-athletes who find the right balance between their social, athletic and academic lives.
“It’s a great group. They all fit in well together. No one is exactly the same but they embrace each other’s differences,” he said. “Duke is the total package—it’s everything.”
Lanham—who blamed a “bad hip” for being unable to be in the video himself—added that even if he might not have felt right for the video, he is happy his team did.
“I can’t do all the gyrating. I don’t think my wife, or the [athletic director] would like that,” Lanham said.