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NASA chief touts 'Gangnam' parody, 'NASA Johnson Style'

December 21, 2012|By Amina Khan
  • 'NASA Johnson Style," a parody of South Korean pop star Psy's "Gangnam Style," received high praise from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
'NASA Johnson Style," a parody of South Korean pop star Psy's…

NASA’s purpose and vision might be a mystery to some, but the agency’s top official says there’s a quick primer on the space agency’s mission and accomplishments. And it’s done Gangnam style. 

“I find, as I travel around, not very many people know what we do today,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Wednesday to a National Research Council committee that is reviewing the agency's human spaceflight program.

Luckily, he added, there's a solution.

Created by interns at Johnson Space Center, “NASA Johnson Style” spoofs South Korean pop star Psy’s viral hit, “Gangnam Style,” while waxing lyrical about the Houston center that’s home to NASA’s astronaut program. The music video has picked up 2.4 million YouTube views since being published one week ago, and features clever references describing the work at the International Space Station. Observe:

Orbiting Earth, International Space Station
Where we work and live in space with a crew from several nations
Got Japanese, and Russians, that European charm
Throw them up, like the Canada Arm!

“It tells a tremendous story about NASA and the vision for exploration, and it’s also entertaining,” Bolden said. “It’s one of the best that I’ve seen in a long, long [time]. So if you have a moment … it’s worth it.”

“Just Google ‘NASA gangman,’” Bolden said, inadvertently misspelling the name. (It’s G-A-N-G-N-A-M, for the record.)

This isn’t the first time NASA has embraced a pop culture sensation. In fact, the agency's PR strategy has been pretty savvy about tapping into the Web, social media and mobile technology, as we described in a recent story.

The video follows another viral hit, “We’re NASA and We Know It,” which spoofed LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” while rapping about the Mars Curiosity rover. The two brothers who masterminded that satire were later invited to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where NASA's Mars program is based. 

"NASA Johnson Style" hasn’t been embraced by all NASA generations, Bolden jokingly pointed out.

“I get a lot of notes from my friends from the Apollo era who say we're lost, we don't know what we're doing. They’re wondering what’s going on,” Bolden said. “And after one of them saw this YouTube video, they were completely convinced we are really messed up.”

Follow me on Twitter @aminawrite.

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