Six reasons why Psy’s Gangnam Style video is so popular

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:

See also

Why people share content – by Buzzfeed and Berger

Video: To embed or not?

YouTube’s most viewed videos – chart

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3 Responses to Six reasons why Psy’s Gangnam Style video is so popular

  1. Ciarán Ryan April 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi NA – it depends on how deep you want to go:

    From social satire:

    “Koreans have been kind of caught up in this spending to look wealthy, and Gangnam has really been the leading edge of that,” Hong said. “I think a lot of what [Psy] is pointing out is how silly that is. The whole video is about him thinking he’s a hotshot but then realizing he’s just, you know, at a children’s playground, or thinking he’s playing polo or something and realizes he’s on a merry-go-round.”

    to magical symbolism:

    People will see what they want to see.

  2. Ciaran Ryan December 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    See also: Euny Hong, author of The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture. “She talked to the BBC about the South Korean government’s long-term project to influence foreign affairs through K-pop and dance moves with military precision.”