By Ryan Saundercook
Move over Justin Bieber, there’s a new YouTube king and he’s riding an invisible horse straight into the number one spot.
“Gangam Style” by South Korean rapper PSY has become the most viewed YouTube video of all time with over 825 million views, beating out the former top runner, Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”
The song, named after the Gangnam District of Seoul, has done in five months what took the previous placeholder more than two years.
PSY’s quirky hit took the world by storm when it was posted to YouTube in August. Unlike the countless pop songs coming out of South Korea, ‘Gangnam Style’ struck a chord with international audiences and became a quick success.
“It’s been a massive hit at a global level unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Each day, “Gangnam Style” is still being watched between seven and 10 million times,” noted YouTube administrators in their Trends blog.
Colin Mills, program coordinator of Algonquin College’s music industry arts program, said it’s hard to know what makes a video like “Gangnam Style” successful.
“Obviously it’s unique, it’s not something you’d see everyday. I think the TV exposure it had through (talk show host ) Ellen (DeGeneres) helped the notoriety of it,” said Mills. “I think it’s still a mystery why some videos go viral and others don’t. But I think the uniqueness of this one helped bring it to where it is today. It hasn’t stopped, it’s all over the place now which increases viewership.”
Mills added that PSY’s decision to sign with Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s manager, “helped to keep the ball rolling as it started to take off on its own.”
“Gangnam Style” has quickly become a global sensation. YouTube said that the phrases “Gangnam Style” and “PSY” have been the fastest rising searches in the past six months, and that these searches are coming from “all over the world”.
“Searches first spiked in South Korea in late July when the video was posted. We began to see search interest rise in the U.S. and other English-speaking nations over the next month until it began to peak in September in North America and Brazil,” noted the YouTube blog. “Searches and viewing began to spike more broadly and in places like Europe and India in October.”
In addition to being the most viewed video of all time, “Gangnam Style” also has more than 2.2 million likes, another YouTube record.
In an interview with Scotsman.com, Matt Fiorentino, spokesman for the online video tracking firm Visible Measures, said the dance naturally lent itself to parody.
“Without the dance, I don’t think it would have been as big as it is,” said Fiorentino. “PSY has a unique sense of humour which comes through in the video. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
In October, UN Secretry-General Ban Ki-moon met with PSY where he tried out the signature dance moves. Moon joked that he may have to relinquish his title as “the most famous Korean.”