Music Blogs

Gangnam Style, 1 Year On...

  • By AndyVale
  • 15 July 2013

Today (15th July) marks the first anniversary of the biggest music video on the planet.

Firstly, if you haven't seen the video... welcome to the Internet. Apparently there are ladies with no clothes on here, try typing 'Sex' into the search bar. I dare you. But first, watch this:

I was going to write a few paragraphs about the statistics, growth, and cultural spread of the video. But I feel that a visual demonstration is far more effective. Pretend that every single domino in this video represents almost 250,000 views. This is what happened over the last year:

Some people slave away for years just to get one of those dominos to fall over.

Looking back on the last year, two things stick out in my mind about the success of Psy and Gangnam Style.

Firstly, imagine you built a time machine but it could only travel back to the beginning of 2012. Try going up to someone and telling them that the biggest video of the year (and the first to hit 1 billion views on YouTube) would be by a slightly pudgy K-Pop star with a catchy hit and a ubiquitous dance.

It sounds perfect fodder for a relatively short-term internet thing, like 'Leeroy Jenkins', Charlie biting his brother and 'What What (In The Butt)'. Indeed, it was no surprise when Reddit and 4Chan began to regularly reference and spread it. All that could have been predicted, fun little things always happen on the Internet. However, usually when mainstream media get around to covering it the buzz has gone and it's dead within a week. It's as if your friend's drab Dad has sat himself in the middle of a house party and is determined to make everyone like him. Party ain't so cool any more.

What nobody could have foresaw was the sustained level of global interest. It was long assumed that 'Baby' would be the first to break 1 billion views, if that failed then something by a similar artist was bound to succeed. But no, imagine stepping out of your time machine and telling the stunned throng that a Korean in his mid-30s succeeded where the spawns of Bieber, Cowell, and I.Am had failed. Also, he'd do it in just under 5 months.

Secondly, a few months back Psy did a giant stadium show that was live-streamed on YouTube. It doesn't matter what you think of Psy's music, his live show looks fun: 

I posted the link on Supajam's Facebook page and began an imprompty discussion in the comments. Whatever I wrote about some of the awesome things that happened (flying, light-sabres, giant screens, ballads, the feverish crowd...) there were a couple of guys repeatedly slagging it off. I found that weirdly fascinating. They were spending a chunk of their weekend slating a video they weren't watching of an artist they didn't like, and boldy so.

It reminded me of when we put up 1D or Bieber stories. People bitch and moan about them, but they seem to love clicking on them. People claim they want to find out about good music here (we have plenty). But more often than not they prefer to snoop around the more garish stories for a quick bit of titilation. Two articles I had spent days researching and writing were once jostling for Supajam's most-read top-spot against our Pullitzer Prize nominated piece of journalism, "Harry Style's gets hit in the balls with a shoe".

Is that the key to getting massive in music? Having rabid fans is great, but having active detractors sends you supanova. If that's the case then I expect Gary Millhouse to be filling stadiums some time very soon. Maybe Psy could support him. You heard it here first...

Andy is a Supajam writer who has been a small-fry at numerous Commerical, BBC and Student radio stations over the last 6 years. He is also a music promoter in the South-East of the UK. He has a website where he interviews musicians with only one question, and he is currently typing in third-person. You can tweet abuse at him if you fancy letting off some steam.