Gangnam Style, by Psy, is the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube. Here is a brief explanation of why it is so popular.
NPR identifies: “Three Reasons K-Pop (South Korean pop) Is Taking Over The World”.
1) Korean industrialisation of pop music production, focusing on exports.
2) Importance of the visual: New songs debuted on national television, not on the radio.
3) Korea as “viral video” incubator: “It’s one of the most wired countries in the world”.
To this we can add:
4) Performance – Fun, humour, spirit, novelty
5) Catchy tune
6) Interactivity (crucial for the web), meaning:
6 a) The tune is memorable (easily copied, hummed)
6 b) The tune came with a dance – physical activity that’s easily copied and parodied
6 c) Parodies were allowed on YouTube – as Psy’s team must realise that copying and parody is a great way to spread messages
“I’m still analyzing it right now, I want to know the exact reasons it became so popular so I can do it again!” says Psy to MTV.
“But if you think about one billion views, that means people watched it many, many times … I can’t believe they didn’t get sick of it!
But if you look at all the parodies, and the dance moves, that might be the key, because people can add their own style to the dance.
And they all like the ‘Hey, sexy lady’ part, too.”
Psy’s Gangnam Style video on YouTube: