‘Gangnam Style’ at 10: How Psy’s smash hit sent Korean culture global

The early 2010s have been an era of fast hits. From the “Harlem Shake” to “Occasion Rock Anthem”, electronic platforms ushered in a new era of publicity — and virality.

On July 15, 2012, South Korean singer and rapper Psy broke on to the international new music scene with a shiny blue tuxedo, an unforgettable horse-using dance and an energetic conquer that dropped to the catchy lyric, “Oppan Gangnam design and style.”

“Gangnam Design and style” quickly went viral, making waves all around the planet. The song hijacked the airwaves, the audio online video flooded Facebook timelines and Psy’s slicked-back hair and sun shades showed up on American late-night time reveals. The song debuted on the Billboard Very hot 100 in September, right before climbing to range 2 months afterwards. It also became the initial video clip to hit 1 billion views on YouTube.

The music video for "Gangnam Style" became the first video to hit a billion views on YouTube in 2012.

The audio movie for “Gangnam Type” became the first online video to strike a billion views on YouTube in 2012. Credit history: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Pictures

Psy, who was presently well known in his household country but hardly recognised globally, speedily grew to become one particular of the most recognizable artists in the entire world. Within a 12 months, he experienced broken a few Guinness Planet Data and was undertaking at New York’s Madison Sq. Back garden with Madonna. For the then-35-yr-previous from Seoul, the whirlwind achievements was one thing he could have never ever imagined.

In an interview in advance of the song’s 10-calendar year anniversary, he compares that period of time of his existence to celebrating a birthday. “On the day before, you might be fired up in anticipation,” he tells CNN from the Seoul headquarters of P-Nation, the history label and enjoyment agency he launched in 2018. “And then on the working day of … it is all a small wild and ridiculous.”

But the song’s effects stretched significantly past the tunes sector. In point, the achievement of “Gangnam Design” is deemed a major catalyst in the “Korean wave”, or “hallyu”, a time period describing the current proliferation of Korean tradition internationally — a little something the South Korean government has been trying to force by means of songs and media since the 1990s.

According to Gyu Tag Lee, an associate professor of cultural experiments specializing in K-pop and hallyu at George Mason University’s South Korean campus, it was “Gangnam Type” that gave Korean pop society mainstream recognition outdoors of East Asia.

“These kinds of going-viral-on-the-world-wide-web media platforms, (such as) YouTube, produced K-pop and hallyu really popular and huge overseas,” he states.

Paving the way

Quickly ahead a ten years and South Korean abilities have achieved new levels of international popularity and fandom.

K-pop band BTS was the world’s best-advertising musical act in 2021, and the group has since carried out at the Grammys and designed an physical appearance at the White Residence to talk about Asian illustration and anti-Asian loathe crimes. Lady team Blackpink, meanwhile, has done at the Coachella music competition and collaborated with the likes of Woman Gaga and Selena Gomez, with its four members all joining major brand names or luxurious fashion residences as ambassadors.

Lee believes that these extremely prosperous K-pop functions are adhering to in Psy’s footsteps by working with shareable movie written content to attain worldwide audiences.

“Without the need of the huge strike that was ‘Gangnam Design,’ there could not have been BTS, there could not have been Blackpink,” Lee states.

BTS has frequently cited — and thanked — Psy for serving to globalize K-pop. A single of the boy band’s associates, Suga, even co-produced and highlighted on “That That” , the guide one from the Psy’s new album, “Psy 9th”. Like “Gangnam Type”, the tune is catchy and danceable, though the tunes movie features some of the singer’s signature humor and has by now garnered more than 272 million views on YouTube.
South Korean rapper Park Jae-Sang also known as Psy performs "Gangnam Style" in front of a crowd during a flashmob on November 5, 2012 in Paris.

South Korean rapper Park Jae-Sang also known as Psy performs “Gangnam Design” in front of a group through a flashmob on November 5, 2012 in Paris. Credit: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Photographs

In a guiding-the-scenes video clip job interview, posted to Psy’s YouTube account, Suga expresses his gratitude for the “Gangnam Design and style” singer.

“He paved the way for K-pop in the US, which allowed (BTS) to abide by that route far more comfortably,” Suga states.

And the appreciation is mutual. “I assume it truly is an amazing feat,” Psy suggests of BTS’ achievements. “Each and every one component of me applauds them and is cheering them on. That heavy burden that I felt in 2012 — BTS has been shouldering that for six or 7 a long time now.”

Further than breaking records

For Psy, there has always been another side to his international achievements. As thrilled and joyful as he was in the course of these “Gangnam Model” times, he said that executing and currently being on the road remaining him feeling “just much too overwhelmed” and “a little empty inside of.”

Fame also brought about new expectations — and the pressure to make much more hits.

“When the music is a strike, then your songs have to have to proceed to be hits,” he suggests. “When the individual is a strike, the achievement is extra sustainable. In this circumstance, I am the previous and BTS is the latter.”

Although Psy hardly ever replicated the results of “Gangnam Design and style”, he has used the previous decade proving himself to be a musician and dancer with a singular travel to entertain. Because 2012, he has produced three entire-duration albums that showcase his various model — from the dance hits he’s ideal identified for, to softer, rhythmic ballads reminiscent of his before output. Due to the fact founding P-Nation, he has employed the label to find out, produce and creatively support the upcoming era of South Korean acts.

Psy at a press conference of his new album "Psy 9th" at the Fairmont Ambassador Hotel on April 29, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.

Psy at a press convention of his new album “Psy 9th” at the Fairmont Ambassador Lodge on April 29, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Among it all, Psy is continue to filling venues in his residence state. His annual concert series, “Summer Swag” is at this time underway just after staying canceled because of to the pandemic.

“Interacting with audiences (and) sharing that expertise is something I won’t be able to even describe,” Psy suggests. “I truly feel very happy and written content in that minute.”

And his mission hasn’t altered given that his breakout hit: “To make enjoyable songs, enjoyable dances and provide pleasure to my lovers.”

“Which is my hope,” he adds. “I was of the similar brain 10 yrs back and I believe I am going to really feel the very same way 20 years from now as nicely. I am going to often be true to that.”

Look at the movie previously mentioned to hear much more from Psy.