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

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Composed by Liz Kang, CNNJane Sit, CNN

The early 2010s had been an period of instantaneous hits. From the “Harlem Shake” to “Occasion Rock Anthem”, digital platforms ushered in a new period of publicity — and virality.

On July 15, 2012, South Korean singer and rapper Psy broke on to the worldwide songs scene with a vivid blue tuxedo, an unforgettable horse-using dance and an energetic conquer that dropped to the catchy lyric, “Oppan Gangnam fashion.”

“Gangnam Design and style” before long went viral, earning waves all-around the globe. The song hijacked the airwaves, the tunes online video flooded Facebook timelines and Psy’s slicked-back hair and sun shades showed up on American late-night exhibits. The music debuted on the Billboard Sizzling 100 in September, just before climbing to quantity 2 weeks later on. It also grew to become the to start with video 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 music online video for “Gangnam Design” turned the very first online video to hit a billion sights on YouTube in 2012. Credit history: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Psy, who was by now well-known in his household nation but barely known globally, rapidly turned a single of the most recognizable artists in the earth. In a calendar year, he experienced broken 3 Guinness Earth Documents and was undertaking at New York’s Madison Square Yard with Madonna. For the then-35-yr-old from Seoul, the whirlwind accomplishment was a little something he could have never imagined.

In an interview in advance of the song’s 10-yr anniversary, he compares that period of time of his daily life to celebrating a birthday. “On the day prior to, you might be excited in anticipation,” he tells CNN from the Seoul headquarters of P-Country, the document label and enjoyment company he founded in 2018. “And then on the working day of … it can be all a tiny wild and nuts.”

But the song’s impact stretched significantly further than the songs marketplace. In truth, the achievement of “Gangnam Design” is considered a key catalyst in the “Korean wave”, or “hallyu”, a time period describing the new proliferation of Korean tradition internationally — a thing the South Korean federal government has been making an attempt to press by means of songs and media given that the 1990s.

In accordance to Gyu Tag Lee, an affiliate professor of cultural research specializing in K-pop and hallyu at George Mason University’s South Korean campus, it was “Gangnam Model” that gave Korean pop society mainstream recognition outside the house of East Asia.

“These varieties of heading-viral-on-the-world-wide-web media platforms, (such as) YouTube, built K-pop and hallyu seriously well-liked and significant overseas,” he says.

Paving the way

Speedy ahead a 10 years and South Korean abilities have reached new degrees of international popularity and fandom.

K-pop band BTS was the world’s leading-promoting musical act in 2021, and the team has since done at the Grammys and created an physical appearance at the White House to focus on Asian illustration and anti-Asian loathe crimes. Lady team Blackpink, meanwhile, has executed at the Coachella audio festival and collaborated with the likes of Woman Gaga and Selena Gomez, with its four users all joining major models or luxury fashion homes as ambassadors.

Lee believes that these really prosperous K-pop acts are following in Psy’s footsteps by applying shareable video clip articles to achieve worldwide audiences.

“Without having the significant hit that was ‘Gangnam Fashion,’ there may perhaps not have been BTS, there might not have been Blackpink,” Lee says.

BTS has usually cited — and thanked — Psy for aiding globalize K-pop. A single of the boy band’s users, Suga, even co-generated and highlighted on “That That” , the lead solitary from the Psy’s new album, “Psy 9th”. Like “Gangnam Type”, the song is catchy and danceable, though the tunes video capabilities some of the singer’s signature humor and has presently garnered much 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 recognised as Psy performs “Gangnam Style” in entrance of a crowd during a flashmob on November 5, 2012 in Paris. Credit rating: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Photographs

In a behind-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 authorized (BTS) to adhere to that path additional easily,” Suga claims.

And the appreciation is mutual. “I believe it is an remarkable feat,” Psy says of BTS’ results. “Each individual solitary portion of me applauds them and is cheering them on. That weighty load that I felt in 2012 — BTS has been shouldering that for six or 7 several years now.”

Outside of breaking information

For Psy, there has normally been a further side to his global achievement. As energized and content as he was throughout people “Gangnam Type” times, he said that undertaking and getting on the road still left him feeling “just far too confused” and “a little vacant inside.”

Fame also brought about new anticipations — and the force to make far more hits.

“When the tune is a strike, then your tunes require to proceed to be hits,” he says. “When the individual is a hit, the good results is additional sustainable. In this case, I am the former and BTS is the latter.”

Although Psy in no way replicated the results of “Gangnam Design”, he has used the very last decade proving himself to be a musician and dancer with a singular push to entertain. Since 2012, he has produced a few comprehensive-length albums that showcase his assorted style — from the dance hits he is most effective recognised for, to softer, rhythmic ballads reminiscent of his earlier output. Considering that founding P-Country, he has utilized the label to explore, build and creatively assistance the upcoming technology of South Korean functions.

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 meeting of his new album “Psy 9th” at the Fairmont Ambassador Hotel on April 29, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. Credit rating: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Photographs

Amongst it all, Psy is continue to filling venues in his home country. His once-a-year live performance sequence, “Summer months Swag” is now underway soon after remaining canceled due to the pandemic.

“Interacting with audiences (and) sharing that expertise is a thing I can not even describe,” Psy claims. “I sense exceptionally happy and material in that instant.”

And his mission has not altered because his breakout strike: “To make enjoyable songs, exciting dances and provide pleasure to my supporters.”

“Which is my hope,” he provides. “I was of the exact same thoughts 10 many years ago and I feel I am going to come to feel the exact way 20 a long time from now as nicely. I am going to constantly be true to that.”

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