Released in 2012, Gangnam Style quickly rose in popularity and went on to became a phenomenon with everyone from Ban Ki-Moon to Novak Djokovic copying the moves of its singer PSY. Know more about the song, whose video is the most watched in YouTube history, through these 10 interesting facts.
#1 In 3 months it reached No 1 in over 30 countries
“Gangnam Style” is a song written and performed by K-pop (Korean Pop) artist PSY (Park Jae-sang). Released on July 15, 2012 it debuted at number one on the national record chart of South Korea. By the first week of August it was praised as a viral YouTube sensation by news outlets like CNN, ABC News and The Wall Street Journal. By the end of October 2012, the song reached the number one position in more than 30 countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
#2 Gangnam Style is the most watched video ever on YouTube
On September 20, 2012 Guinness World Records recognized “Gangnam Style” as the most liked video in YouTube history. The Dong-a Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, quoted the following statement released by YouTube, “From July 15, when the music video was uploaded on the site, to September 28, the video was accessed by people in 222 countries, more than the 193 member countries of the U.N.” On December 21, 2012, “Gangnam Style” became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views. As of 2015, it is the site’s most watched video ever with over 2 billion views.
#3 Its Horse Riding Dance became hugely popular
The unprecedented popularity of the music video has been attributed to the signature dance move of the video known as “the horse riding dance”. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, PSY described the dance as “pretending to bounce like riding on an invisible horse”. PSY is known for his amusing dance moves and the Korean fans have huge expectations about his dancing. PSY admitted that he had a lot of pressure to come up with a unique style. He tested various animal inspired moves with his choreographer and stayed up for about 30 nights to come up with the “Gangnam Style” dance.
#4 Gangnam is an affluent area in South Korea
Gangnam is one of the most affluent areas of South Korea and is located in the southwest of the city. People of Gangnam are supposedly trendy, hip and have a certain ‘class’. “Gangnam Style” is a newly coined Korean term which refers to the upscale fashion and lavish lifestyle associated with the people in Gangnam. PSY said in an interview that although he claims himself to be “Gangnam Style” in the song; the dance, the looks and the music video of the song is far from being high class. Although PSY claims that this was just his twisted sense of humour, people have conjectured that the song is a satire about South Koreans’ materialist obsession with Seoul’s Gangnam district.
#5 Initially many people misheard the song as “Open Condom Style”
The song talks about “the perfect girlfriend who knows when to be refined and when to get wild.” The song’s chorus hook “Oppan Gangnam Style” means “Big brother is Gangnam Style”. ‘Oppa’ is a Korean expression used by females to refer to an older male friend or older brother. When the song was first heard by the English speaking audience its chorus hook became an in-joke as it was misheard as “Open Condom Style”. This confusion inspired many comments on the YouTube video page of the song.
#6 It has been hailed as a force for world peace
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hailed “Gangnam Style” as a “force for world peace”. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson revealed during a speech that he and British Prime Minister David Cameron have danced “Gangnam Style”. U.S. President Barack Obama has also talked about possible plans to privately perform the song for his wife Michelle Obama. Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt performed the “Gangnam Style” move with PSY during his tour of East Asia. The signature dance move of the song has also been performed by athletes in international competition including Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, Uruguayan footballer Edinson Cavani, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic and Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle.
#7 Its popularity has led to many parodies and controversies
“Gangnam Style” has become a craze and this has led to many parodies of the song. A few have been in news. A parody titled “Tibetans vs China’s Xi Jinping: Gangnam Style” was uploaded by an activist group which supports the Tibetan Independence Movement. The video’s description states that the parody uses “the power of humor and theater” to highlight the “cruelty and absurdity” of the Chinese government’s “colonial policies” in Tibet. In mid-September 2012, 14 lifeguards from El Monte, California were fired when they uploaded a parody of the song titled “Lifeguard Style” in which they were swimming in red bathing suits and dancing “Gangnam Style”. Yet another parody which caused a controversy was of officers from the Royal Thai Navy doing the “Gangnam Style” in uniform.
#8 Gangnam Style triggered a shootout
In Bangkok “Gangnam Style” triggered a gun battle between rival gangs. The two gangs were dining in the same restaurant when “the younger members of both groups danced provocatively at each other in the manner of top hit Gangnam Style”. The dance-off escalated into an argument and eventually a gun attack. No one was injured in the incident.
#9 It has brought $13.4 million to South Korea’s audio sector
Since the release of “Gangnam Style” in mid-July 2012, the share prices of the song’s label company YG Entertainment have gained more than 50%. Also during this time the share price of DI Corporation, whose executive chairman is PSY’s father, has increased by 568.8%. The South Korean government has announced that “Gangnam Style” has brought in $13.4 million to the country’s audio sector.
#10 Gangnam Style doesn’t have a copyright
There are a few factors that have led to the meteoric rise of “Gangnam Style”. The music is ridiculously catchy and the dance moves are eye-catching and simple enough to mimic. According to a blog post on Harvard Business Review one of the main reasons behind the success of “Gangnam Style” is the song’s intentional lack of copyright. This allows people to make their own versions which only add to the success of the original. More than 1000 parodies of the song have been uploaded.