[Letter] ‘Gangnam Style’ writes history with 500 million views

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[Letter] ‘Gangnam Style’ writes history with 500 million views

When Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor” reached 500 million views on YouTube on Jan. 27, along with the media description that “it accomplished 500 million views for the second time ever within one year (to be exact, 362 days),” it created buzz. Breaking the record alongside achieving it in less than a year was a surprise, simply beyond belief.

The first time a video received 500 million views was on March 28, 2011, by Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” which took 403 days. But it took Psy, the international singer, only 98 days to reach this achievement. It makes it the fourth video to amass that number of views. “Gangnam Style” was practically a “mission impossible,” breaking the record three times faster than “On the Floor.”

I predicted greater success for “Gangnam Style,” saying, “Daily views for ‘On the Floor’ and ‘Baby’ are each 200,000 to 300,00 views while ‘Gangnam Style’ collects 8 million to 10 million daily.” So I’m positive that the unprecedented 1 billion hits will be pre-empted by Psy, the self-styled “B-class singer.” The Korean Wave Research Institute went ahead of the curve and told a local daily on Aug. 20 that “Gangnam Style” would change the paradigm of Korean tourism, and gave its prediction on Sep. 14 that “Gangnam Style” would achieve 500 million views.

Billboard, the world’s top music chart, discloses its No. 1 piece every week. And around 3,160 songs have made it to the top of the chart over last six decades. Taking account of the overlaps, so far over a thousand singers or groups have captured the honor of No. 1 on Billboard.

The glory of topping the chart is not like it used to be, in this age of new media represented by social networking services such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. For “Gangnam Style,” the beginning and end of its popularity transpires on YouTube, the icon of the age of new media, and becoming the most-viewed video on that site would make it the one and the only in the world. There’s no comparing being No. 1 on Billboard with No. 1 on YouTube, since the latter has greater significance.

In the meantime, in Japan, they express doubts on the globally dominant status of “Gangnam Style” on YouTube, generating conspiracy theories about its possible manipulation. Such an outrageous argument is tantamount to doubting a world record in an Olympics marathon.

Rigging is perhaps possible if it is a local portal, but to express skepticism toward the views generated from 222 countries on YouTube, the world’s largest user-created content sharing site, should be viewed as a primary school kid’s jealousy and envy. Such interest in conspiracy theories about rigging in Japan only attests to the great significance of the record on YouTube.

On the 30 most-viewed videos on YouTube, there’s a Japanese video titled “An Experiment.”

As of Oct. 19, it registers whopping 237,170,000 or so views (with “AKB48” at 80 million views as the second most-viewed Japan-made video), and it contains the most grotesque and preposterous content of all 30 most-viewed videos on YouTube. It shows a Japanese woman putting Mentos in Coke to make it explode, another lowly example showing the video-related preference of the Japanese.


*Director of Korean Wave Research Institute
By Han Koo-hyun

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