Viral Style: Why Gangnam’s #1
It took only four months for the single, “Gangnam Style,” to reach over 875,000,000 views, becoming the most watched video on YouTube. By October, it became the number one song in the United States. The dance became an international phenomenon, with even Leno and, of course, Rammy poking fun at the moves (see Rammy’s video below!).
The song that gained this much appeal has only three words in English. We understand three words, and it is currently the most well-known song in America.
“Gangnam Style,” by PSY, is playing on millions of iPods, smartphones, laptops, and music apps (the song is constantly played on popular music app Pandora). The 34-year-old South Korean pop star probably did not expect his song to be the most popular song in the world; after all, who would have that as an expectation? He did not expect to be an international icon, especially in a matter of weeks.
On August 17, he had an interview with CNN. He was shocked to see himself on the famous channel. “I didn’t believe it. When I saw articles on the other foreign sites like Huffington Post and Gawker, I thought it was really cool. But when I saw the CNN video, I actually thought the video wasn’t real!” said PSY.
The video was put on YouTube four months ago; July 15, 2012. By August, the video went viral. It did not take long for the entire world to take notice on the single; in September, Guinness World Records declared Gangnam Style the “most liked” video on YouTube. Now, it is also the most watched video on the site (it was about time Bieber’s 2010 hit “Baby” got off the pedestal).
As predicted, PSY’s popularity expanded past the web. In the United States, he has performed on two well-known shows: The Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Not only was he on daytime television, but he also won the Best Video award at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. PSY’s single has not only been the number one song in the United States, but it also topped the music charts in thirty other countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and Australia.
The unique dance has been mimicked by millions of people, like every other dance phase (anyone remember the Macarena?). Not only were cover videos made, and are still being made, but also various dance tutorials have emerged. Do not forget, whenever there is a viral video, parodies are created. In this case, there is even one from the North Korean government.
What is more humorous, however, is the fact that many famous people dance to Gangnam Style. PSY taught Britney Spears the dance when he appeared on Ellen. Google executive chairman David Cameron also did the viral dance. Even Kris Jenner, who made an appearance on the Halloween episode of Fashion Police, was dressed as PSY for her costume and danced in front of the cameras.
We know the song, but what most of us do not know is what it means. “Gangnam” refers to the Gangnam district of Seoul, the capitol of South Korea. The Gangnam district is claimed to be high-class, trendy, and modern; PSY compared Gangnam to Beverly Hills. The song, itself, is meant to be a satire about people from the Gangnam district who label themselves as “Gangnam Style.”
“People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are,” explained PSY. “It’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are ‘Gangnam Style.’ So this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not.”
It seems like not many people expected the success the song has received, yet millions of people listen to it each day. Other most viewed YouTube videos are: “Baby” (by Justin Bieber), “On the Floor” (Jennifer Lopez), “Love the Way you Lie” (Eminem), “Party Rock Anthem” (LMFAO), and “Bad Romance” (Lady Gaga). What do all of these songs have in common? They are all catchy and have good rhythm.
We do not understand what PSY is saying in his song, but the beat and significant dance are why we love it and feel the need to learn the dance. Also, because the dance and music video are funny; this is what PSY’s intentions were.