Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is a major milestone in K-pop history. After four months of dominating the airwaves, it passed the 800 million view mark and trumped Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video as most viewed on YouTube last Saturday.
This is a huge phenomenon. Congrats, Internet.
Bieber’s “Baby” was released in 2010, while “Gangnam Style” came out in July this year. Psy achieved in four months what Justin Bieber took two years to get. As of this writing, the viral success has pulled in an unprecedented 836 million views, and “Baby” is still at 805 million since last Monday.
It’s also worth noting that the Korean viral sensation is the most thumbed up with over 5.4 million likes; whereas “Baby” is the most disliked video with 3.2 million thumbs down on YouTube. At this rate, it won’t be long until Psy’s smash music video becomes the first to be viewed a billion times on the Internet.
Many Beliebers took to Twitter to express their dismay of their idol’s loss. One fan said, “I can’t believe Psy got more views than Justin,this is just not fair.” A less histrionicBieber fan stated, “We don’t need 1 billion to prove that Justin is more powerful thanPsy. Bieber is the best, no matter what happens.”
Psy fans also showed their support, with one saying, “Congrats to @Psy and Gangnam Style for officially becoming the most watched video in @YouTube history! Onward to 1 billion views!” and another tweeted, “Just checked out the most viewed charts on YouTube. Way to go Psy. You just beat Justin!”
Ironically, both Psy and Justin Bieber are managed by the same person, Scooter Braun. This new feat is probably a win-loss situation for the talent manager.
Here’s how the Korean superstar broke the news:
— PSY (@psy_oppa) November 24, 2012
If Psy had a dollar for every parody…
The infectious music success has been parodied countless times — there’s Pony Gangnam Style,Inmate Gangnam Style, Gandalf Style, and who could forgetGangnam Style Mom? Even this frog is riding the invisible Gangnam horse:
While most spoof videos poke fun at the unlikely smash hit, other parodies pushed their own agenda. SculptorAnishKapoor recently led a protest over censorship of dissident artists by gathering famous performers and artists to record apolitically-charged “Gangnam Style” version. Kapoor’s parody is also a message of support for Chinese political activist Ai Weiwei, who himself rocked the Gangnam horse riding dance to slam the lack of freedom in China.
To raise money for Children in Need, teachers of theTadcaster Grammar School in North Yorkshire, England recorded themselves doing the Psy-esque dance moves in various locations. Their YouTube video has scored over 200 thousands views and counting.
The signature dance moves were even performed by monumental political and business leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
When a viral hit is several months old, we expect the excitement to die down and the video stowed away in our internet memories. But we were so wrong with “Gangnam Style”. Just when we thought it had reached its peak, it just topped the YouTube charts!
That’s not the only chart Psy blazed through.
- He also horse danced his way to the top of the UK charts, first breaking in the 37th spot, and then steadily climbed to number one.
- “Gangnam Style” won Best Video at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards.
- It appeared at the top spot of the iTunes singles chart.
- The record breaking track reached number one on China’s Baidu 500 download list.
- At the end of October 2012, the ubiquitous song topped the charts of over 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Denmark.
Gangnam Style about South Korea’s 1%?
To most people, the novelty dance track is probably entertaining only because of that chubby Korean’s silly dance, but in reality, there’s more to “Gangnam Style” than tacky dance routines and sexy ladies.
Unbeknownst to many, the worldwide hit has a bit of political flavor itself. The lyrics and the video are a not-so-hidden criticism of materialism and capitalism, and by implication, distinguishes the lifestyle of the haves and have nots.
Gangnam is a district in Seoul where the wealthy reside; it’s an area where rich men and women engage in extravagant consumption of power and pleasure. This affluence, prosperity and trendiness are the topics of Psy’s world-famous song. His impression of a rich playboy who fails at projecting glamour may be laughable, but Psy has succeeded in magnifying living life Gangnam style.
According to writer Sukjon Hong, there isn’t an exact equivalent of Gangnam District in the U.S., but the closest would be Miami Beach, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Beverly Hills all wrapped up in one. Real estate there is the country’s most expensive, with an average of US$10,000 per square meter, about three and a half times South Korea’s average. Gangnam is also the headquarters of some of Korea’s largest corporations, like Hyundai and Samsung.
Almost every scene of the “Gangnam Style” video depicts luxuries that most Koreans can hardly access – stables, yoga classes, party buses, tennis courts and bathhouses. However, all these signifiers of wealth are given hilarious twists that are delivered as visual spectacles, and thus we tend to only see the empty excitement.
Who is Psy? 5 things you didn’t know about Psy
- Psy’s real name is Park Jae-sangand he is 34 years old.
- Born and raised in Gangnam. Psy may have also been making fun of his own hometown, because that’s actually where he’s from.
- He is already a household name in South Korea, having six albums under his belt. He’s kind of a big deal in the Asian country long before he taught Ellen Degeneres how to trot like a horse.
- What’s more surprising is that he’s considered a rebel. He’s had conflicts with the law, and in 2001, was arrested for possession of marijuana. Psy’s first album caused him to be fined for inappropriate content, and his second album was completely banned from being sold to anyone under 19.
- Even as a newbie in the South Korean music scene, the crooner stirred up the industry with his blatant lyrics, unusual dance moves and unorthodox pop star looks.
Do you think “Gangnam Style” will ever be surpassed by the next biggest viral sensation? Will Psy remain YouTube king for a long, long time? Leave your answers in the comments below.