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December 21, 2012 7:52 AM   Subscribe

The video for "Gangnam Style" is the first to reach one billion views (short scale) on YouTube.

Though the raw 'view count' doesn't indicate how many individual people have seen it, or how many people have watched it multiple times, the all-but-one-line-in-Korean video has spawned a large collection of parodies, meme variations and Christmas light inspirations.

The video went live on YouTube on July 15th. It was first mentioned/linked on MetaFilter on the same day, by Needled. Appearances on many TV shows increased the exposure of the song and video. On November 24th, Gangnam Style galloped past Justin Bieber's "Baby" to become the most viewed video on YouTube. In 160 days, the video averaged 6.25 million views per day (though Vevo contended less), widening awareness of K-Pop. The one billion view mark was reached on December 21st 2012, further muddying the Nostradamus apocalypse 'prediction'.

"Gangnam Style" has been chosen along with "fiscal cliff" and "Romneyshambles" as some of Collins Dictionary's words of the year. The song and video have helped Psy make a few bucks and afford a pad in Los Angeles.

The song headlines YouTube's review of their year. Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by Wordshore (143 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Mayans were right, after all...
posted by Skeptic at 7:57 AM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Beat me to it. Damn. :(
posted by the cydonian at 7:58 AM on December 21, 2012


I think we can all agree that displacing a Justin Beiber video from the top of any list is a valuable public service.

Also, NPR's Planet Money did an interesting podcast in October about how the success of Gangnam Style was no accident. Worth a listen.
posted by dry white toast at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


"Hey, sexy lady" is all we need in English.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


And I still haven't seen it.

I'm gonna, though, sometime.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:01 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


... We are come onto a new era, filled with lulz. Did we ever see before? It is doubtful. Did we ever heard before? We cannot say. We are silenced by something come upon us from the end of days.

There was a garden grove, full of music. Did we see the fires above and think that we could dance on in eternity? It is true: all mankind must do the horsey dance.
posted by curuinor at 8:01 AM on December 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


It really should've been "Prisencolinensinainciusol."
posted by naju at 8:02 AM on December 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


"Hey, sexy lady" is all we need in English.

"You know what I'm sayin'?"

No, PSY. We had no clue. We still enjoyed the hell out of that song.
posted by explosion at 8:06 AM on December 21, 2012


This is possibly the best screen grab of the billion mark.
posted by Wordshore at 8:06 AM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, NPR's Planet Money did an interesting podcast in October about how the success of Gangnam Style was no accident.

Heh, I don't think you can say it wasn't a fluke viral video until there's a second success, no matter how much NPR thinks this is calculated.
posted by smackfu at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2012


This is all a big prank. I've watched Gangnam Style 1 billion times. It's not actually that popular.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2012 [28 favorites]


Heh, I don't think you can say it wasn't a fluke viral video until there's a second success, no matter how much NPR thinks this is calculated.

Luck favors the prepared.
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does this guy/his record label get any remuneration directly from Youtube for all this? Or does Google keep all the ad revenue?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2012


Math people: can we use this information to distill a rough "X number of people in the world are listening to Gangnam Style right now" statistic?
posted by phunniemee at 8:15 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Does this guy/his record label get any remuneration directly from Youtube for all this?

Didn't read the article? YouTube ad revenue is split about 50/50 between the content creator and Google.
posted by gilrain at 8:17 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I made it over ten years before being exposed to goatse, so I hope it's at least double that for this video.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't read the article?

Ha, no. I'm utterly illiterate.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Didn't read the article?
posted by Bovine Love at 8:19 AM on December 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I dunno, but I asked google to convert a billion views of a 4:13 clip into years. It's just over 8000.

Clearly we're still 1000 years of Gangnam style short of a true milestone.
posted by postcommunism at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'd also say Psy is the star of Rewind Youtube Style 2012.

Now I may be young, but I don't spend enough time watching Youtube to know who ALL OF THESE YOUTUBE PEOPLE are
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2012


Math people: can we use this information to distill a rough "X number of people in the world are listening to Gangnam Style right now" statistic?

1 billion views divided by roughly 26000 minutes since it's been released * 4 minute long video = roughly 15,000 people listening to it any given moment.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really love that he's doing it right with copyright enforcement: don't send out a bunch of takedown notices, just rake in the sweet, sweet ad revenue from other people using it.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:28 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


God, there is so much to love about this video. In every scene, there's somebody losing their grip on whatever's going on and struggling to keep it together, and in every scene there's Psy right next to them, doing something ridiculous with total commitment. It skewers class pretension, rewards multiple viewings and paying close attention to details, but also involves yelling at a butt.

I feel like I'm personally responsible for about 10% of those billion views.
posted by mhoye at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2012 [49 favorites]


♪♪♫ Doin'..♪♫♪♫ the Chameleon!♪♪♫
♪♫♪ You've got those rrrreptile eyes..♪♪♫♪
posted by Trochanter at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read Gangnam style slightly differently: it is a sign, or rather another sign, that the balance of power in terms of entertainment trendsetting is moving eastwards sharply. 10 years ago I doubt a clip of a relatively unknown Far East Asian pop star would have conquered the world. But since then, Bollywood's presence in Western markets has exploded and more importantly, China's influence on what the world cares about has grown massively.

The Korean wave, of which K-Pop and Psy are part, represents the bridging of American and Asian culture. Its success is in no small part due to Chinese consumers' wish to expand their horizons and our own understanding that China (and countries that increasingly fall in its economic sphere of influence like Korea and Japan) is not just a passive receptacle for imported trends but both an originator and a kingmaker.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:38 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


just rake in the sweet, sweet ad revenue

I was pretty shocked how little the ad revenue amounts to, actually. From one of the articles, PSY and his agent earned, combined, $870,000 from YouTube ad revenue. If my quick-and-dirty ~8000 years estimate is right, then of the over 8000 years of of combined entertainment he's produced he's barely pulling in more than a hundred bucks per viewing time annum.

On the one hand, that's incredible efficiency. On the other, ouch.
posted by postcommunism at 8:38 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will fully admit that the above-linked comment by Needled was my first exposure to this. I thought it was hilarious and thought it was going to go viral immediately, but...nothing really happened. I even shared it on my Facebook wall, dammit!

I'm just glad it took awhile for this to take hold - the Olympics were bad enough with the "Call Me Maybe" parodies - imagine everyone doing this horse-riding nonsense dance thing in every photo.
posted by antonymous at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2012


I was pretty shocked how little the ad revenue amounts to, actually. From one of the articles, PSY and his agent earned, combined, $870,000 from YouTube ad revenue. If my quick-and-dirty ~8000 years estimate is right, then of the over 8000 years of of combined entertainment he's produced he's barely pulling in more than a hundred bucks per viewing time annum.

On the one hand, that's incredible efficiency. On the other, ouch.


Yeah, that's really surprisingly low considering all of the views! But it's a game changer to have people promote you for free and you get paid for it directly, and it's insane how many artists and their labels just look that gift horse right in the mouth.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


ICP watches Gangnam Style.
posted by kmz at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'll fully admit that my better half sent me the link on the day it appeared on YouTube, and my immediate reaction was "Wtf? Especially the weird elevator thing. That will never catch on..."

Oops.
posted by Wordshore at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's blocked on my work computer as "viral video."

That's some understatement there. That video is like real life Snow Crash.
posted by etc. at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


phunnimee: If people were in fact watching it constantly the whole time, 6.25 million a day is about one view every 18ms. Since the video is a little over 4 minutes long, that means about 20k people were watching it at the same time, on average, over those 160 days. That assumes a "view" only counts people watching the whole 4 minutes.

But in fact that first assumption is the opposite of true. The view count has been increasing over time. That graph only goes to September. I tried a bunch of extrapolating, before it occured to me, I can just search for newer numbers. Looking around it looks like it's been something like 10 million a day. So average of 30K concurrent viewers recently. With time zones and network effects I'd guess a peak of 100-200K viewers at once.

However, that's assuming that every view watched the whole video. In fact it appears to count even people who just watch the first 5 seconds. I'm sure a lot of people don't get very far into the video before closing it - either they realize they need sound, they realize they already saw it, they realize it doesn't suit their tastes or mood, whatever. So it's probably the actual peak is something like 15k people concurrently watching it, and the actual average is a couple thousand.
posted by aubilenon at 8:52 AM on December 21, 2012


I only watch youtube videos that have hit 1 billion views.
posted by orme at 8:54 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh.
posted by orme at 8:55 AM on December 21, 2012


"Wtf? Especially the weird elevator thing. That will never catch on..."

What, that's the best part! I was even thinking it would have made a sweet Halloween costume, a la np312's comment about the "door' costume.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:56 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


PSY,
You're welcome.

Sincerely,
-MetaFilter
posted by obscurator at 8:58 AM on December 21, 2012


MetaFilter: [It] also involves yelling at a butt.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:01 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Hey, sexy lady" is all we need in English.

It's actually, "Heeeeeeeeey, sexy layyyyydeeeez!"

I'm probably responsible for at least 100+ views. I like to watch it when I'm feeling lethargic.
posted by discopolo at 9:03 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


PSY,

Welcome to where everything starts to suck.

Sincerely,
Los del Rio
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:04 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, I've said it before, but I want to perfect the little hop/skip move Psy does at about 1:26 in the video and make it my sole method of locomotion everywhere.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:07 AM on December 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


the video is 4 minutes 13 seconds long, or 253 seconds. one billion views totals 253 billion seconds. if we assume a day is exactly 86,400 seconds, and a year is 365.25 days, that's 8,017 years mankind will never get back.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:11 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


ICP watches Gangnam Style.

That actually made me like ICP a little.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:12 AM on December 21, 2012


PSY met President Obama and said the president can do the dance but his family feels embarrassed when he does: "Says Psy, 'He told me he’s good at ‘Gangnam Style’ but that the ladies at his house are embarrassed when he’s dancing so he’s not doing it.'”
posted by discopolo at 9:13 AM on December 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


the video is 4 minutes 13 seconds long, or 253 seconds. one billion views totals 253 billion seconds. if we assume a day is exactly 86,400 seconds, and a year is 365.25 days, that's 8,017 years mankind will never get back.

You failed to take into account people who turned it off 5 seconds. That still counts as a play.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2012


A freaking masterpiece from every angle: Time Warp on steroids baby! Another welcome apocalypse for the pastel-pimpin' music industry AND its blood funnel.
posted by Twang at 9:21 AM on December 21, 2012


You know what? Fuck it. One billion earthlings can't all be wrong.
posted by Flashman at 9:26 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


NPR's Planet Money did an interesting podcast in October about how the success of Gangnam Style was no accident.

The online article skips an interesting parallel from the audio segment, which you can read in the transcript:
... for ten years - 1992 to 2002 - Korea was industrializing their pop music process. Kind of the way we did with Motown, early on.
Also, it notes that PSY isn't the only successful K-Pop artist in the US.
Because of Youtube, the labels saw there was a market for Korean music in Europe, in Japan - where album sales are still huge - in the U.S., where Girls Generation sold out Madison Square Garden.
I'd also like to highlight that PSY is mocking parts of Korean culture, a fact that is lost without translation and some cultural understanding. Which makes the song even better in my eyes. Also, if it does anything to get LFMAO less airplay, I support it 100%.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:26 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alright, I'll bite. I don't understand this video. I'm not trying to be obtuse, or snarky. I'm just confused. This video has become popular because he does the horsey dance, or....? There are tons of catchy songs on youtube, tons of funny/humpy dances. What gives? It's not just the Asian ascendance trend listed above. I've seen this performed at meetings, conferences, staff shows, talent shows, football games. Would this have happened to the Macarena if it were released 15 years later? Is this the first time other cultures have seen a silly horsey dance? Would Digital Underground have gone viral under similar circumstances? Are people non-ironically dancing Gangnam style at clubs? I know humour loses its edge when it's explained, but I'd like someone to explain the unique appeal of this video.
posted by Telf at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, today is a good day because I learned about ICP Theater.
posted by jbickers at 9:36 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing about this supposedly ushering in the new global k-pop domination is this doesn't seem to have any of the hallmarks of what makes k-pop amazing. It's a total anomaly. Can we reach back a few years and give a billion views to co-ed and their eye-popping colors, insane costume, micro-edits and incredibly detailed choreography?
posted by naju at 9:38 AM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


For Christmas we got a new TV that does YouTube, and a visit from a neice who wanted to being up Gangnam on someone's phone to show my daughter. Result: big screen Gangnam dance party.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on December 21, 2012


Bill O'Reilly famously concluded that the song's "gibberish" lyrics mean Kids These Days are just craving shallow, meaningless entertainment. Yet "Gangnam Style" is one of the rare pop songs whose topic is neither a) partying, nor b) male-female relationships. It's actually more meaningful, not less.
posted by kurumi at 9:50 AM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


You failed to take into account people who turned it off 5 seconds. That still counts as a play.

How Youtube counts 'plays' or 'views' is a bit nebulous, but it is usually inferred that it takes more than 5 seconds for it to trigger the counter. Look at this video for a short interview with a YouTube technician about this subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIkhgagvrjI
posted by cx at 9:57 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alright, I'll bite. I don't understand this video. I'm not trying to be obtuse, or snarky. I'm just confused. This video has become popular because he does the horsey dance , or....? There are tons of catchy songs on youtube, tons of funny/humpy dances. What gives? It's not just the Asian ascendance trend listed above. I've seen this performed at meetings, conferences, staff shows, talent shows, football games. Would this have happened to the Macarena if it were released 15 years later?

The Macarena song is crap. This one is fun. It's pretty high-energy and zany and not at all self-serious. There are so many small moments in there that are funny and don't smack of try-hardism in the slightest. The pool scene, the elevator scene, and my favorite, at the end when the guy in the yellow suit just gives this weary look and starts dancing, because Psy is just staring right at him like, "BRING IT. YOU MUST BRING IT," and the guy in the yellow suit has NO CHOICE. The dance itself is eh, whatever, and it's not gonna get trotted out as a group dance thing at every band banquet and wedding from here to eternity like the electric slide or the macarena (thank god), but the video itself is integral to the whole phenomenon in a way that dance craze songs aren't. This is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy of music videos. It's just so lightheartedly zany.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


What adamdschneider said. Plus, it's both taking the piss out of the posh rich lifestyle (Gangnam District being a rough equivalent to Beverly Hills) as well as the hip-hop pretensions to meaningless opulence. The horsey dance is not just hilarious because it's fun and PSY does it well and throws everything into it. It's awesome because the joke is, "I'm so gangsta I'm in an equestrian club." It just takes the hip-hop battle between "authenticity" and "all about the money" to the breaking point.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:15 AM on December 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


Alright, I'll bite. I don't understand this video.

Your Music May Vary. Everyone's neural pathways are connected in a unique way; there's no universally collective experience. You will like, appreciate, enjoy some things which myself and others will think "meh". This is good (if everyone's brain was wired identically, humanity would be the most terrible thing ever).

I like the video (now) for the changing musical emotional/style in it (seem to get a bit of everything) and the attention to detail. Watching it and deliberately not focusing on Psy, but on everything and everyone else, is quite fun. As are the allusions, in the video and lyrics, to faking being wealthy.
posted by Wordshore at 10:17 AM on December 21, 2012


Alright, I'll bite. I don't understand this video. I'm not trying to be obtuse, or snarky. I'm just confused.

It's fun, it's funny, and South Korea is cool. You don't have to agree.

I like that a lot of Americans like it or enjoy it because it suggests to me that the childhood days of people saying,"Ew, what's that? It looks weird" to an Indian dessert in my lunch at school could be replaced with, "Can I try some? It looks like [this Italian treat or whatever]" for the future generations of kids growing up here.
posted by discopolo at 10:18 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Macarena song is crap. This one is fun

This one is a warmed over rip-off of a ten year old Benny Bennassi track. It's not terrible, but it's utterly generic dance music with a really fun video.
posted by empath at 10:18 AM on December 21, 2012


I read Gangnam style slightly differently: it is a sign, or rather another sign, that the balance of power in terms of entertainment trendsetting is moving eastwards sharply. 10 years ago I doubt a clip of a relatively unknown Far East Asian pop star would have conquered the world.
Other than William Hung in 2003/2004?
posted by b1tr0t at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2012


That is an extraordinarily different situation, though, b1tr0t.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2012


So, now that it exceeds a billion views, what's next?

Smithsonian preservation? A UNESCO World Heritage Designation? A world declaration that access to Gangnam Style is a human right? Directional beaming to the closest earth-like star systems?
posted by FJT at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


For people who are saying that this is a bellwether for K-Pop: every other K-Pop video I've seen features pretty little young boys and girls, while Psy is almost middle-aged and has the body of John Belushi. I've not seen that many, but this sure doesn't seem representative.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:28 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


William Hung the American?
posted by onya at 10:29 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This one is a warmed over rip-off of a ten year old Benny Bennassi track.

Link to the track? I'm very leery of these kinds of claims (of the type: "I liked it better when it was X"), but I'm willing to entertain the possibility.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:29 AM on December 21, 2012


So, now that it exceeds a billion views, what's next?

Hopefully, official use in key ceremonies.

Please don't suggest this to Mr Biden, even jokingly.
posted by Wordshore at 10:30 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


ink to the track? I'm very leery of these kinds of claims (of the type: "I liked it better when it was X"), but I'm willing to entertain the possibility.

Satisfaction is one, but pretty much every track he did used a similar bassline.
posted by empath at 10:33 AM on December 21, 2012


Dress classy, dance cheesy.

Advice for life.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm very happy or if I regret never going forward with my APA Style citation parody (eeeeyyyyyy...giving credit....with APA style!) I do think it might have finally embarrassed my students into properly citing their sources. (Of course, then there's the inevitable MLA Style knockoff, and don't get me started on Chicago.)
posted by ilana at 10:38 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Utterly generic -- but reasonably well executed -- dance music is still better then most of the music on the radio.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2012


This is the first I've ever heard of Long and Short Scales. That's really crazy.
posted by odinsdream at 10:41 AM on December 21, 2012


I fully confess I only watched the first 30 seconds of the video, and that was about a month ago. I felt like I got it after that, and had no desire to actually see or hear any more of that chaotic nonsense.

I don't care if the kids are on my lawn. You know why? I've got fucking sweet headphones on and am listening to my Marvin Gaye collection, that's why.
posted by spitbull at 10:48 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Remember when America used to be a source of ideas?" Grandpa said, looking into the fire. "Emancipation, equality, the hope that anyone could be what they wanted to be."

"Remember when America used to make things?" Dad said as he stirred the logs with a poker. "Cars, clothes, even toys."

"Remember when America used to lead the culture?" I said, fanning my hands before the flames. "Rock and Roll, Motown, and even Justin Bieber."

Grandpa smacked me upside the head. "Bieber? Really? I stormed the beach at Normandy so that all men can be free."

Dad punched my knee. "I worked the line at GM. I made cars that could drive through a brick wall. Bieber?"

I looked to my son for help, but he just started screaming at my butt.

"The Mayans were right," I whispered as PSY roared from the heavens, feathers and horses at his heels. I felt the beat stir within me. The baumbaumbaum of the dawning of a new day. I tried to turn away from it, but the vibrations in my gut spread through my head, my heart.

My soul.

That day, children, I was raised. The vibrations carried me upwards, through stable and hot tub, dancing slowly across the crosswalk that is eternity. You know nothing of what happened befo the Billioning. I remember it all. Do not forget the Before Times.

And remember.

HEEEEYYYYY SSSEEEEXXXXYYY LLLLAAADDDDDDDIIIIEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


Alright, I'll bite. I don't understand this video. I'm not trying to be obtuse, or snarky. I'm just confused. This video has become popular because he does the horsey dance yt , or....? I know humour loses its edge when it's explained, but I'd like someone to explain the unique appeal of this video.

I think it succeeds on about six levels, and it succeeds because it has all of these elements involved; sort of like how Batman doesn't have a capital-s Superpower, but he's badass because he does so many things well.

As music: This is a catchy song. I'll leave it to others to explain exactly why, because I don't know a lot about music formally, but it's a great club track. It's danceable, and it's just fundamentally enjoyable. I think one good thing is it's not quite a super-earworm (Call Me Maybe is worse on that front), so it's less likely to get stuck in your head and become annoying. I think it may be partially that it's in Korean, so most listeners don't know the lyrics themselves, which reduces the chances you find yourself singing it absentmindedly. I have no idea if the lyrics are stupid or not; they are irrelevant to whether the song is good.

As character: Psy is a somewhat paunchy 34-year old, a dinosaur in a game played by the young and good looking. Everybody loves the underdog. He has a goofy, dorky persona that is incredibly appealing. He looks ridiculous, and he knows he looks ridiculous, but he just doesn't care. Not caring what other people think of you has always been an essential element of cool, and someone so dorky being so cool is just compelling. A seemingly random journeyman musician from well outside the US becoming a global sensation is the ultimate underdog story. He doesn't feel like a studio creation.

As video: The video is straight-up hilarious. It apparently has a hell of a lot more meaning to Koreans, which is awesome. But even without, it works on a universal level. It is packed from start to end with visual gags; from the opening where he seems to be on a beach but is actually on a playground to the shot where he's rapping into the camera with super intensity until the zoom out reveals he's on the crapper. It is primarily a meditation on the awesomeness of the singer (like most videos), but undercut every five seconds with something to show how not-awesome he is. This is mocking the theme for about 90% of rap videos and a substantial portion of the remainder.

He skewers very specific but very universal video elements -- the best in my opinion is the fan section. The person in the headwind with sexy blowing hair is a super-cliche, not just in videos but in anything related to fashion, like every cosmetics ad ever. He has a great escalation in there, undercutting this cliche a little more every shot. The first shot is distant, and it's not just a fan, there's garbage blowing. By the second shot, there's also some white crap in with the garbage. The third shot, he's moved closer and the women on his arms are showing that it's actually unpleasant to pose with a fan blasting in your face, unlike every model who has ever posed this way, and especially unlike Psy, who is totally unfazed. By the fourth shot, he's caked in the white stuff, not that slows him down for even one second. Another shot of the models even more uncomfortable, and he finishes with a great open-mouth pose -- totally committed, even though there's a world of white stuff blowing in his mouth. The heart of the video is how goddamn committed and confident Psy is, even though he's continuously being revealed as a fool.

This universality takes the video beyond the borders of Korea. Classic gags, like swimming in a bathtub done well. The dude doing the pelvic thrusts in the elevator is a specific dude in Korea, but even though I just know he's a random dude, it's still hilarious. The gags in the video all hang on the same theme of undercutting a guy who thinks he's awesome so they work as a unified statement (contrast any late-period Eminem), but they come quickly enough that if they don't work, there's another gag a few seconds away. A good gag performed with utter commitment is worth watching multiple times -- like this Mitchell and Webb sketch where the punchline is obvious but is just delivered so perfectly.

As dance: It's a funny dance. It translates particularly well, because there are a few segments, and you can signify Gangnam Style with nothing more than the horsey (and pretending to ride a horse is always funny) -- the YouTube icon is about ten frames, but it is still a clear reference to the horsey dance. The rest of the bits, like the wiggling pelvis-and-feet are equally straightforward to perform. Again, what sells it is that it's kind-of-sort-of taking elements from actual sexy dances, transforming them so they're comedic, but Psy clearly not getting the memo and owning them like the sexiest thing in the world. The people in the Macarena video aren't in on the joke, so they come off as obnoxious.

As parody source (song): One reason this has built up so much fame is through parodies and interacting with them. This is a particularly great source for parodies. A good parody (e.g. most of Weird Al's output) uses assonance to strong effect -- for example, in "White and Nerdy", the key phrase in the chorus is the "white and nerdy", which is "ridin' dirty" in the original. Al which doesn't just match the meter and rhyme (e.g. "evergreen tree" or "Chef Boy-ar-dee" or "cemetery"), he uses all four vowel sounds, and matches or is close on most of the consonant sounds (substituting t's and d's, for instance). Gangnam style is in Korean and nobody knows the lyrics, so it doesn't really matter beyond "Oppan Gangnam style" and "Hey sexy lady". And even then, if they are a little clunky (e.g. "NASA Johnson Style / Hey Science Lady"), they seem like a small part of the song. The verses work as long as you can roughly match the flow, and let's be clear here, Psy isn't exactly Twista or whoever here. You need no special vocal talent to parody the singing here; the counterexample here is Call Me Maybe, which isn't the hardest song in history to sing, but you do need someone not tone-deaf to pull it off (or to do something like NPR's parody, where they deliberately avoid the singing.) Basically, anybody can put together a totally decent parody of this song, which thousands have.

As parody source (video): You need so little to signify Gangnam style (sunglasses and a horsey dance) that it's transferrable to any situation. Because there are so many components in the video, you can nod to some of them and still put in your own things. MIT for instance, has an elevator and a bus, but replaced the horse stables with a boat yard. It's as much an attitude as it is anything else, which means it can be used in any situation and is incredibly open. This lends itself to many people doing different riffs on it, each of which can be made funny in a specific way without needing to be totally tied to the original.

As product of it's time: Never before in history has video recording, video sharing, music editing, and vocal recording been so democratized. This works in so many levels; a Korean pop song forcing it's way into North America through the grassroots; a million parodies blooming. We exist in a more globalized culture than ever before, so a hit can go international, and the North American market is more ready for a distinctly global song. There have been plenty of European performers to break the US, but ABBA could never have done this with Swedish-language lyrics. The fact that Psy is Korean is also helpful, I think; China is a country people worry about, but outside of its' neighbours, Korea is I think sort of generally seen as an industrious, genial, modest country. The kind of country you can get a UN Secretary-General from.

Summary: Mostly I think it's the horsey dance. And yelling at a butt.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2012 [218 favorites]


This will be the new Rick Roll in 10 years.
posted by Jacob G at 11:05 AM on December 21, 2012


The person in yellow is a drag king, yes?
posted by josher71 at 11:05 AM on December 21, 2012


No? That's Yoo Jae-suk, a Korean comedian.
posted by invitapriore at 11:08 AM on December 21, 2012


No? That's Yoo Jae-suk, a Korean comedian.

He looks like a drag king, yes?
posted by josher71 at 11:11 AM on December 21, 2012


"Remember when America used to lead the culture?" I said, fanning my hands before the flames. "Rock and Roll, Motown, and even Justin Bieber."

Uh, Bieber is Canadian.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:37 AM on December 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:49 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


it's a great club track. It's danceable

Yeah, I always wonder what the heck this means. It has an electronically generated beat in a BPM range that's similar to other EDM. That beat has no fluidity, just a mechanistic pulse hammered out over the tinny speakers of a computer most of the time when people are listening to this stuff. So it's danceable? Any song with a beat is "danceable." To me that is the most meaningless term of praise for anything short of Fela or James Brown or something actually *funky,* where "danceable" means it's rhythically complex, fluid, and dynamic as oposed to the good old boom boom boom of EDM.
posted by spitbull at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2012


Sorry, back to my Marvin Gaye now.
posted by spitbull at 11:57 AM on December 21, 2012



Uh, Bieber is Canadian.

Shush, you! If Americans want to claim him or Celine Dion, they are more than welcome to do so!
posted by peppermind at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Noted to keep off spitbull's lawn...

> Any song with a beat is "danceable."

Check out Aphex Twin playing a set at your local club when he's in a bad mood, and get back to me on that one.
posted by amorphatist at 12:02 PM on December 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


First minor quibble about that NPR Planet Money newsbite:

...in the U.S., where Girls Generation sold out Madison Square Garden. And that's how Korea got into position to make, as the program director at that top 40 station puts it...

RICK GILLETTE: Probably one of the greatest music videos ever made. I mean, it's not "Thriller" but it might be the K-pop version of "Thriller."


Regarding the Madison Square Garden concert, that is only partially correct. Yes; it was sold out. But it was an SMTOWN concert, so it was Girls Generation and BoA and TVXQ and Super Junior and SHINee and f(x) and Kangta (who originally was part of the boy band H.O.T., a group that is considered to be a forerunner of the k-pop idol industry). Plus, those tickets were sold to people who were already fans of one or more of these groups.

True; Girls Generation did actually attempt to make a debut in the US (which was quickly explained away as "not really" a debut when their label, SM Entertainment, realized their English version of "The Boys" didn't exactly make the waves they hoped it would). It seemed like a bit of a coup to debut on David Letterman -- especially for the diehard fan-girls and fan-boys -- until you realized that David Letterman's audience is not very likely to overlap with the k-pop audience.

But Girls Generation didn't exactly "pave the way" for PSY. Comparing the two is pretty laughable. HyunA's version is what I'd imagine "Gangnam Style" would be as a standard k-pop MV, instead of PSY's signature ridiculousness, and on it's own, the HyunA version wouldn't have gotten the views it has if it hadn't been for the delightfully absurd original (her most popular solo songs are still in the 20-40 million views range. And yes, that's a cameo of you-know-who in "Ice Cream"). Also, the reason k-pop pundits have been puzzling over Gangnam Style's success so much, is because it became a world-wide one-hit wonder despite any initial effort from PSY or YG Entertainment.

(Now I think about it, I'm fairly certain PSY is responsible for creating k-pop pundits in the first place, because up until his massive success, it was just various stages of fandom in dark recesses of the internet, with no real reason to share the wildly indepth and persnickity details of k-pop to people outside the fandom.)

And my second minor quibble, taken from the NPR transcript:

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GANGNAM STYLE")

PSY: (singing) Oppum gingham style.


Sigh.
posted by paisley sheep at 12:08 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many thanks to Homeboy Trouble for eloquently capturing a lot of my much less well-thought-out reactions to this song.

(I kinda never want to listen to Marvin Gaye again, now, didn't realize pretension was a requirement to enjoy it.)
posted by maxwelton at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know what? Fuck it. One billion earthlings can't all be wrong.

As an agnostic, I beg to differ.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:22 PM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Came for the excellent round-up of beanplaty links, stayed for Homeboy Trouble's even more beanplaty homegrown analysis.
posted by Phire at 12:24 PM on December 21, 2012


The one billion view mark was reached on December 21st 2012...

And I helped. While cruising YouTube last night I noticed the count was at 909M+, and so of course, I clicked the link.

But I didn't watch the whole thing

posted by mmrtnt at 12:41 PM on December 21, 2012


What gives?

Well, I have little to add to Homeboy Trouble's breakdown of its success, but you'll never be able to convince me otherwise that part of its initial stateside popularity, some of which was being tweeted by US hip-hop artists, was that it had the word "GANG" in the title. /cynical
posted by dhartung at 12:47 PM on December 21, 2012


the boy band H.O.T., a group that is considered to be a forerunner of the k-pop idol industry

Oh, man, they played Outside Castle on Music Video Heaven for weeks. Yeah, college.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:48 PM on December 21, 2012


> it had the word "GANG" in the title

Also, it's an anagram of "ln my Satan egg", so the unholy power of the dark prince probably helped.
posted by gilrain at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also yesterday, I saw (what for me is) the first video done in "Gangnam Style" while not being a direct copy/parody.

via Marketplace

posted by mmrtnt at 12:55 PM on December 21, 2012


Also, also, I used to watch Gangnam Style before it had like, a billion views.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


To add a very little bit to HT's masterful analysis above, one of the things I found so appealing to the video on first view was that everyone in the video looks like they're having a blast--this video is a license for them to drop the personas they have to wear in their "real" show business jobs and let it hang loose, to gently laugh at themselves and the whole business.

Everyone looks like they're having a huge amount of fun. I don't speak a lick of Korean, but if this video was a party invitation I'd be there in a nano-second just to hang out with these people.
posted by maxwelton at 1:00 PM on December 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bill O'Reilly famously concluded that the song's "gibberish" lyrics...

I'm not going to listen to four and a half minutes of his inanities; is there someone on hand to explain to him that Korean is a whole other language?
posted by psoas at 1:10 PM on December 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Homeboy, Excellent! Thank you.

Take the rest of the day off

posted by mmrtnt at 1:17 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I always wonder what the heck this means. It has an electronically generated beat in a BPM range that's similar to other EDM. That beat has no fluidity, just a mechanistic pulse hammered out over the tinny speakers of a computer most of the time when people are listening to this stuff. So it's danceable? Any song with a beat is "danceable." To me that is the most meaningless term of praise for anything short of Fela or James Brown or something actually *funky,* where "danceable" means it's rhythically complex, fluid, and dynamic as oposed to the good old boom boom boom of EDM.

This is pretty weak, boilerplate curmudgeon talk. I'd like to be charitable, but I don't know whether it's more charitable to assume that you just haven't given consideration to the possibility that the people who like EDM prioritize elements of the music that you're not sensitive to, or to assume that you're familiar with those priorities and just think your value system is better. I don't know, neither possibility is especially becoming.
posted by invitapriore at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


PSY: (singing) Oppum gingham style.

I want, so bad, to see a bunch of Little House On The Prairie people doing the horsey dance.

LAURA IS GETTIN' DOWN.
posted by cmyk at 1:30 PM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heeeyyyyy Metafilter!

FP Gangnam Style!

posted by mmrtnt at 1:33 PM on December 21, 2012


This song is quite possibly the punkest as fuck song I've ever heard.
posted by roboton666 at 1:43 PM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess to me, I watch and listen and immediately think back to Momus and Cornelius.
posted by roboton666 at 1:45 PM on December 21, 2012


Regarding the Madison Square Garden concert, that is only partially correct. Yes; it was sold out.

And heck, often the only arena these bands could sell out is the one in the biggest market.
posted by smackfu at 1:58 PM on December 21, 2012


One billion views? Ow, Charlie! That hurts!
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:03 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did it. I watched for the first time about 2 a.m. But at least there was tequila.
posted by Vaike at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2012


Guardian article, with the usual "I'm above this kind of thing" cultural snobbery in the comments. Oddly, the Guardian is giving credit for the popularity of the video to Reddit.
posted by Wordshore at 2:46 PM on December 21, 2012


William Hung was a US-only phenomenon. When I saw the Arrested Development episode with William Hung and his Hung Jury, I thought the joke was just his name and the absurdity of having a choir be a jury. It wasn't until I looked at AD fan sites and saw people complain about his being involved in the show that I realised he was a real person.
posted by mippy at 3:08 PM on December 21, 2012


Also, this song is apparently de rigeur at pantos this year. It filled the dancefloor at a wedding disco I was at a few weeks back. In that sense, it is the new Macarena.
posted by mippy at 3:09 PM on December 21, 2012


Oh, god. >.<

Also, what's pantos, precious?
posted by adamdschneider at 3:16 PM on December 21, 2012


Satisfaction is one, but pretty much every track he did used a similar bassline

Ok, I listened to a couple minutes. Calling GS a "rip-off" is seriously stretching it.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I watched all of Satisfaction. I kept waiting for the video to go somewhere, but nope, power tools all the way.

Still, thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I couldn't tell you, now, five minutes later, how it goes, musically.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:25 PM on December 21, 2012


Pantos are pantomimes, blossom.
posted by mippy at 3:27 PM on December 21, 2012


ICP watches Gangnam Style.

"The content owner has not made this video available on mobile."

Why do they do this?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:29 PM on December 21, 2012


I've never seen Gangnam Style. I don't know what the song sounds like. I know what the video looks like because it's pretty much impossible to be on the English-speaking parts of the internet without seeing images of parodies of it.

I've also never seen that Rebecca Black thing, but ditto.

Is this memetic pollution?
posted by Foosnark at 3:36 PM on December 21, 2012


It'll take you like ten minutes tops to watch both of them, Foosnark. We'll wait.

And then maybe we can talk about it when you get back!
posted by ODiV at 3:40 PM on December 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


My brother and I are discussing how Gangnam Style is both similar to and different from I'm On a Boat, in that they are both quasi-ironic synecdoches for the genres they are lampooning. Well, I am; my brother disagrees with my analysis.
posted by KathrynT at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Benny Bennasi! That's who this song reminds me of! Been trying to pin that down since the day I heard it.

Anecdote of an anecdote - I just got home for the holidays yesterday and spent last night visiting my favorite aunt and uncle. When Gangnam Style inevitably came up in conversation, my drunken aunt launched herself out of her chair and declared it was time to listen to her. She told a story of visiting my cousin last year, who's teaching English in Korea. They walked through Gangnam and she was almost run over by a lady in a BMW driving backwards down the street, then smashed the lady's hood in while challenging her to a fight. I love my aunt.
posted by mannequito at 4:28 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The No-Music version is pretty zen. For that alone I'm down with it.
posted by ovvl at 4:38 PM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


2bucksplus: ""Hey, sexy lady" is all we need in English."

Earlier today, I observed a commercial for the Kidz Bop 23, featuring a cover of the song. They have changed the lyrics from "Hey, sexy lady" to something like "Hey, hey lady," thus imbuing it with a delightful Jerry Lewis feel.

DISCLAIMER: NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF KIDZ BOP. EVER.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:35 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The content owner has not made this video available on mobile."

Why do they do this?


Internet distribution falls into the cracks between broadcast venues. Most likely streaming to mobile devices is considered a violation of somebody's broadcast distribution rights. WWL radio, which actually broadcasts New Orleans Saints football games and streams their radio coverage online, has to apologize about blocking the stream from mobile devices every game because it's not allowed by their agreement with the NFL.
posted by localroger at 5:58 PM on December 21, 2012


Gangnam Style is awesome, but the video is definitely what makes it. (Why did this blow up, and not e.g. Aqui Para Vocês, a similar but more interesting example of “80s rap cadence over dance beat”?)
posted by mubba at 6:11 PM on December 21, 2012


roboton666: "This song is quite possibly the punkest as fuck song I've ever heard."

This.

Also, the bit were the Mercedes is parked in the traffic lane with the arrow clearly indicating that it's going the wrong direction. The song is so clearly about class that 'Mitt Romney Style' just fucking barely counts as a parody.
posted by stet at 6:15 PM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a nice, mellow cover of Gangnam Style. Bonus: there's a cat.
posted by Wordshore at 6:27 PM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're not safe from Gangnam Style, even at 30,000 feet.

In his speech on Tuesday to the Conservative party conference, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, told delegates: 'The prime minister and I danced Gangnam Style the other day'.

Let that horror sink in for a while. Then watch the video simulation.
posted by Mezentian at 7:38 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


LOL THX BILLy (contains the f-bomb right at the beginning)

Also, a warning for the vaguely disturbing face O'Reilly makes at 3:08. In sum: yeah, I don't know either. But congrats to Psy!
posted by one teak forest at 8:30 PM on December 21, 2012


Homeboy Trouble,

Thanks! That's the quality answer I was hoping to read.
posted by Telf at 9:28 PM on December 21, 2012


I'm not going to listen to four and a half minutes of his inanities; is there someone on hand to explain to him that Korean is a whole other language?

Well, Limbaugh's an avid fan of Asian languages...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:41 PM on December 21, 2012


"Remember when America used to lead the culture?" I said, fanning my hands before the flames. "Rock and Roll, Motown, and even Justin Bieber."

Uh, Bieber is Canadian.


There's this thing in popular culture in the US where, if an entertainer is Canadian and makes it big here, they are from "Famous People Canada" which is like this state that we vaguely remember up in that Minnesota/Wisconsin flyover area and haha oh man they do a hilarious convincing actual Canadian impression when they talk about home. In US popular culture the English-speaking world is England (which means all of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, though we do have some limited idea of regions such as "Yelling England" aka Scotland), Australia, the United States, Famous People Canada, and I guess actual Canada if you count Red Green but he's really just PBS famous and not as hilarious as those SPOT ON ACCURATE Canadian impressions those Strange Brew guys from Famous People Canada did. We're preeetty sure South Africa and New Zealand exist somewhere because vuvuzelas, Charlize Theron and hobbits, but we're not really sure we trust that.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:25 PM on December 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


So it's danceable? Any song with a beat is "danceable."

Heh, when I was about 15-16 my Dad bought himself a dance music compilation CD. Utterly confused about why a man in his mid 50s would buy such a CD, particularly having looked through his record collection and pilfered the good stuff, which basically amounted to a Hendrix tribute record, tribute record... not even an actual Hendrix record... , I asked him why?

"It's got a good beat and you can dance to it"

...

...

"Dad, you are weird."
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 10:42 PM on December 21, 2012


I will be traveling to some fairly remote parts of Central Africa next summer. I wonder if they will have seen Gangnam Style there. If not, I will try to make sure that they do.
posted by Scientist at 10:59 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I first saw the Gangnam style in Kisumu, Kenya. Which isn't all _that_ remote, but, yeah, it's known around these parts.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:36 AM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


My favourite song i'd never heard of off of youtube is K-Reen 'Sauve le Monde' and lots of other people think it's beautiful too :)
posted by maiamaia at 3:29 PM on December 22, 2012


How is it that people announce their continued ignorance of and isolation from something (a global Internet-age phenomenon no less) as if that ignorance and isolation somehow rarefies them?

Don't tell me. Not only does your shit not stink, it in fact smells good!
posted by mistersquid at 10:08 PM on December 22, 2012


I like how the "remainder" on Gangham's billion views (1.025B as of now-ish) would still be a very successful video by youtube's standards...I would say at a rough guess, based on search results, that maybe 1,000 videos total have 25M+ views.
posted by maxwelton at 3:23 AM on December 23, 2012


Needs more Christopher Walken.
posted by spock at 4:39 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As also celebrated by, erm, the Mayor of London.

Non-Brits: I'm so sorry.
posted by Wordshore at 6:32 PM on December 23, 2012


More musical style parodies: operatic, really nice funk/jazz version, Chopin-esque piano solo, barbershop (short), surf rock. Also, possibly an ad for Cantonese Opera.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 2:06 AM on December 24, 2012


As also celebrated by, erm, the Mayor of London.

I ignored the text below (I'm guessing this Boris geezer has opinions?) but the video at the top makes me wonder: Have we yet reached Peak Homoerotic Army Video? 'Cause I think that one even took a notch up over the Gaga parodies.
posted by psoas at 11:35 AM on December 27, 2012


Psoas, have you seen this?
posted by KathrynT at 11:53 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


MOAR PLZ

altho it seems we need to define the distinction between "homoerotic" and "supergay"

posted by psoas at 8:26 PM on December 27, 2012


altho it seems we need to define the distinction between "homoerotic" and "supergay"

I thought I had a pretty well defined gaydar for a straight person, but I have no idea where that sits.
I suppose it's good DADT was removed?

BTW, at 10 seconds they blur out part of a jeep? What sort of thing might that be?
posted by Mezentian at 3:55 AM on December 28, 2012


Psoas, have you seen this?

In all seriousness, the reaction I have to this video is surprisingly complex. There's a thesis in here somewhere.
posted by odinsdream at 6:49 AM on December 28, 2012


Right? I mean, I keep hearing about hows gays in the U.S. military feel so isolated while on deployment since there's relatively few of them, so when I see something like that all I can think is, "Statistically, at least some of those guys have to be straight. The guy with the mustache is probably straight." And my little gay civilian mind is blown, once again.
posted by psoas at 8:57 AM on December 28, 2012


It's worth knowing that they are deliberately imitating, shot-for-shot, a video shot by the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. So they didn't come up with the idea. But yes, while I doubt strongly that all of them are gay, and in fact find it unlikely that any of them are gay*, it's definitely obvious that none of them are afraid of personal or professional censure for having done something that LOOKS pretty effin' gay. And, in fact, when I searched news stories about the video, the only speculation about the guys' sexuality occurs in the comments.

*Even mustache guy, although that strains credibility. Woof.
posted by KathrynT at 11:51 AM on December 28, 2012


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