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‘Gangnam Model’ at 10: How Psy’s smash hit despatched Korean tradition international

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

On July 15, 2012, South Korean singer and rapper Psy broke onto the worldwide music scene with a vivid blue tuxedo, an unforgettable horse-riding dance and an lively beat that dropped to the catchy lyric, “Oppan Gangnam fashion.”

“Gangnam Model” quickly went viral, making waves all over the world. The music hijacked the airwaves, the music video flooded Fb timelines and Psy’s slicked-back hair and sun shades confirmed up on American late-night exhibits. The music debuted on the Billboard Scorching 100 in September, earlier than climbing to quantity 2 weeks later. It additionally turned the primary 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 video for “Gangnam Model” turned the primary video to hit a billion views on YouTube in 2012. Credit score: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Photos

Psy, who was already widespread in his house nation however barely identified globally, shortly turned some of the recognizable artists on the planet. Inside a yr, he had damaged three Guinness World Information and was acting at New York’s Madison Sq. Backyard with Madonna. For the then-35-year-old from Seoul, the whirlwind success was one thing he might have by no means imagined.

In an interview forward of the music’s 10-year anniversary, he compares that interval of his life to celebrating a birthday. “On the day earlier than, you are excited in anticipation,” he tells CNN from the Seoul headquarters of P-Nation, the document label and leisure company he based in 2018. “After which on the day of … it is all a bit wild and loopy.”

However the music’s impression stretched far past the music business. The truth is, the success of “Gangnam Model” is taken into account a significant catalyst within the “Korean wave”, or “hallyu”, a time period describing the current proliferation of Korean tradition internationally — one thing the South Korean authorities has been making an attempt to push via music and media because the Nineteen Nineties.

In keeping with Gyu Tag Lee, an affiliate professor of cultural research specializing in Ok-pop and hallyu at George Mason College’s South Korean campus, it was “Gangnam Model” that gave Korean popular culture mainstream recognition exterior of East Asia.

“These sorts of going-viral-on-the-internet media platforms, (comparable to) YouTube, made Ok-pop and hallyu actually widespread and massive abroad,” he says.

Paving the best way

Quick ahead a decade and South Korean abilities have reached new ranges of world reputation and fandom.

Ok-pop band BTS was the world’s top-selling musical act in 2021, and the group has since carried out on the Grammys and made an look on the White Home to debate Asian illustration and anti-Asian hate crimes. Lady group Blackpink, in the meantime, has carried out on the Coachella music competition and collaborated with the likes of Girl Gaga and Selena Gomez, with its 4 members all becoming a member of main manufacturers or luxurious trend homes as ambassadors.

Lee believes that these extremely profitable Ok-pop acts are following in Psy’s footsteps through the use of shareable video content material to succeed in international audiences.

“With out the large hit that was ‘Gangnam Model,’ there might not have been BTS, there might not have been Blackpink,” Lee says.

BTS has typically cited — and thanked — Psy for serving to globalize Ok-pop. One of many boy band’s members, Suga, even co-produced and featured on it “That That” , the lead single from Psy’s new album, “Psy ninth”. Like “Gangnam Model”, the music is catchy and danceable, whereas the music video options a few of the singer’s signature humor and has already garnered greater 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 called Psy performs “Gangnam Model” in entrance of a crowd throughout a flashmob on November 5, 2012 in Paris. Credit score: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Photos

In a behind-the-scenes video interview, posted to Psy’s YouTube account, Suga expresses his gratitude for the “Gangnam Model” singer.

“He paved the best way for Ok-pop within the US, which allowed (BTS) to observe that path extra comfortably,” Suga says.

And the appreciation is mutual. “I believe it is an unbelievable feat,” Psy says of BTS’ success. “Each single a part 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 seven years now.”

Past breaking information

For Psy, there has at all times been one other facet to his international success. As excited and completely satisfied as he was throughout these “Gangnam Model” days, he mentioned that performing and being on the highway left him feeling “simply too overwhelmed” and “a bit empty inside.”

Fame additionally caused new expectations — and the stress to make extra hits.

“When the music is successful, then your songs must proceed to be hits,” he says. “When the particular person is successful, the success is extra sustainable. On this case, I am the previous and BTS is the latter.”

Whereas Psy by no means replicated the success of “Gangnam Model”, he has spent the final decade proving himself to be a musician and dancer with a singular drive to entertain. Since 2012, he has launched three full-length albums that showcase his numerous fashion — from the dance hits he is finest identified for, to softer, rhythmic ballads paying homage to his earlier output. Since founding P-Nation, he has used the label to find, develop and creatively assist the subsequent 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 ninth” on the Fairmont Ambassador Resort on April 29, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. Credit score: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Photos

Between all of it, Psy continues to be filling venues in his house nation. His annual live performance collection, “Summer season Swag” is at the moment underway after being canceled because of the pandemic.

“Interacting with audiences (and) sharing that have is one thing I am unable to even describe,” Psy says. “I really feel extremely proud and content material in that second.”

And his mission hasn’t modified since his breakout hit: “To make enjoyable music, enjoyable dances and produce pleasure to my followers.”

“That is my hope,” he provides. “I used to be of the identical thoughts 10 years in the past and I believe I will really feel the identical manner 20 years from now as properly. I will at all times be true to that.”

Watch the video above to listen to extra from Psy.


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