Like it or not, the tune getting stuck in the most heads worldwide this holiday season will probably be the nutty Korean pop track “Gangnam Style.” There are viral videos, and then there is the mega-viral blockbuster “Gangnam Style,” which just became the most-watched video ever on YouTube. A whimsical South Korean pop star called PSY has somehow beaten teen heartthrob Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video to break YouTube’s all-time viewing record. With 880 million views and counting, YouTube estimated last week that the “Gangnam Style” video is still being watched seven million to ten million times each day.
The “Gangnam Style” video is an inexplicable, but amusing romp set to a whirring techno dance beat. The singer PSY shows his hilariously awkward machismo in a series of sidesplitting dance routines, with no fewer than eleven colorful costume changes. Dancers engage in frequent refrains of a “horse trot” maneuver that has ironically become the year’s hottest dance move. “My goal in this music video was to look uncool until the end,” PSY told Reuters. “I achieved it.”
It may look uncool, but “Gangnam Style” is just weeks away from becoming the first video ever to notch a billion YouTube views.
HOW DID “GANGNAM STYLE” BECOME SO POPULAR?
Contrary to popular belief, “Gangnam Style” did not come out of nowhere to become a No. 1 global hit on YouTube and the international music charts. PSY has been a well-known South Korean musician for years; he’s just never had a hit in the English-speaking world. The video’s most memorable dancers, like that magnificent little break-dancing toddler near the beginning, are popular Korean entertainers making cameo appearances. It’s no surprise the song was such a hit in South Korea. What’s surprising is that this song, sung almost entirely in Korean, hit No. 1 on 33 different countries’ pop charts, peaking at No. 2 in the U.S.
“Gangnam Style” started as just another track on PSY’s sixth album, released this past July. The video scored a half million YouTube views on its first day, and the single debuted at No. 6 in South Korea on July 28. The video was shared on the U.S. social media site Reddit that same day, setting off a viral chain of Internet video-sharing that still continues today. In the first week of August, the video was mentioned on CNN, ABC News, and in the Wall Street Journal.
BEST “GANGNAM STYLE” PARODY AND TRIBUTE VIDEOS
The spread of “Gangnam Style” was fueled largely by copycat and tribute versions of the video. Many people first watched the “Gangnam Style” video just to be able to understand a parody or homage versions they had seen elsewhere. PSY says his favorite of these tribute videos is this college marching band version by the Ohio University Marching 110, performed at a halftime during a September 22, 2012 game.
Meanwhile in Texas, an enthusiastic “Gangnam” fan with a flair for animated Christmas lights has created one of the most memorable displays of the Holiday season. Animated lighting mastermind John Storms has carefully placed 25,000 LED lights on his home, coordinating them for a stunning musical display set to “Gangnam Style.” The video of his Holiday handiwork can be seen below. If you feel sorry for Mr. Storms’ neighbors, realize that the audio of the song does not play out loud over speakers – the music plays over a low-frequency transmitter that can only be heard over an FM radio dial when in close vicinity to the home.
The craze doesn’t stop there. In addition, to the many tribute videos found around the web “Gangnam Style” is also inspiring new gym workouts.
CREATE YOUR OWN “GANGNAM STYLE” VIDEO
Your favorite version of “Gangnam Style” might be the one starring you – or your nieces, nephews, co-workers, or anyone whose face you have a photograph of. The animated greeting card studio Jib Jab has a new greeting card feature allowing you to put any face in the “Gangnam Style” video. Just upload a JPG or PNG image of any face, and Jib Jab will create an e-card that comically depicts that face on PSY’s body in the ubiquitous video – with moving lips, and the horse trot dance. We’ve created an example image using the face of America’s 13th President Millard Fillmore (see image at the top of this post), but you can create a full-length, animated version with any face in your digital photo library that you can send via email.
What’s your favorite “Gangnam Style” video? Will you be styling out your friends and family with “Gangnam Style” e-cards? Have you done a “Gangnam Style” workout? Trot out your opinions in the comments below.