A little under two years ago PSY and his music video Gangnam Style started its journey as a YouTube sensation and the artist has gone on to prove that K-Pop rules the channel with well over two billion views…and rising. The 36 year-old ex-military, pop star has become an international phenomenon and despite being cheated out of YouTube’s first annual music video awards contest, is now the biggest star on the Google owned site, in terms of views if nothing else. The video is down below for those who may have missed it the first time.
In November 2013, when YouTube hosted their first ever awards show, PSY’s Gangnam Style lost out in both Video of the Year and YouTube Phenomenon. Considering that on the date the program went out the Korean song was already approaching the two billion mark, something was rotten in the state of YouTube.
Regardless of the snub at last year’s awards program, PSY and his Gangnam Style music video has got something that other videos do not. Like the old Heineken television commercials used to say, “it reaches the parts that others (videos) cannot reach.”
The video itself has been analysed and re-analysed since it hit the Internet in 2012. Since then there have been a lot of words used to describe just why this non-English song about an image conscious province in South Korea has taken the world by storm.
The artist known as PSY, aka Park Jae-sang was 34 years-old when he released the music video. Almost immediately Gangnam Style proved what many fans knew already, K-Pop rules, and PSY’s song now sits at the top of YouTube with a record two billion, and rising, views.
So just what is the appeal of the song? It could be down to the fact that the tune itself is so catchy that listening to it once is nowhere near enough. Other factors are the use of ironic humor and a constant inclusion of self depreciation and relying on “stereotypical” world views of South Korea with its reported preoccupation with self image.
Or it could be down to the fact that K-Pop is pretty popular already and not just in Korea either. Visitors to YouTube will find a huge amount of Korean artists on the channel. Most will be the manufactured boy and girl bands which are incredibly popular in Asia and Europe.
The one drawback to these popular bands, with very catchy tunes as well, is that they do feel a little manufactured. Featuring attractive, young boys and girls who can dance, sing and lure new fans. The music itself is a mix of rap and pop with an emphasis on dancing and attractive youth.
This may be where PSY’s song breaks the boundaries of the usual Korean pop song. Certainly the video has more than its fair share of beautiful looking Korean ladies. As well as these lovelies the singer sends himself up just as beautifully and this combination works well. It is, however, the dance sequences that provide the “killer punch” for the video. The moves are simple, a little silly and looks to be a lot of fun.
Perhaps that is the real secret to PSY’s success with Gangnam Style and the reason that this K-Pop song rules YouTube with well over two billion views. This music video has a huge element of fun in it and as a result its popularity continues to grow as does PSY’s. The video is below for those who may have forgotten just how much fun it is.
By Michael Smith