Skip to main content

Move over, Bieber: Gangnam Style becomes most-viewed YouTube video ever

Everyone loves a good YouTube sensation, and there seems to be little doubt that chubby-cheeked South Korean hip-hop artist Psy and his pop smash "Gangnam Style" will be remembered as the viral sensation of 2012.

Following its ascent to the number one spot on the UK pop charts earlier in October – the first Korean song ever to grab the top position– the song and its wacky creator now boast another, potentially more illustrious distinction: having accumulated over 823.6 million views, "Gangnam Style" (see bottom) is now the most viewed YouTube video ever.

The Guinness World Record organisation also claims it is the most "liked song" ever on YouTube, with nearly 5.4 million nods of approval on the popular video sharing site.

Psy's video dethrones global superstar Justin Bieber, whose 2010 hit "Baby" held the record before a certain horseback riding-inspired boogie poking fun at the pretensions of affluent young Koreans took the digital world by storm. The Canadian crooner enjoys a number of online records, including becoming the first Instagram user to hit one million followers, though his Twitter record was recently smashed by Barack Obama following his victory in the 2012 US presidential election.

The rapid rise of the K-pop/rap crossover artist, known as Park Jae-sang to his mum, serves as further proof of the irreversible digitalisation of the pop industry - the hundreds of millions of YouTube views enjoyed by the song compare to physical sales of just 4 million. How long Psy's record stands will be an interesting indicator of the longevity or disposability of viral music phenomena.

In addition to appealing to the masses, "Gangnam Style" has also won approval from the corridors of power: UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, and US President Barack Obama have all professed their appreciation of the song. Indeed, earlier in November the rapper was bestowed with the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit, one of South Korea's most respected honours.

For more on music and the digital realm, check out Rawiya Kameir's feature on the future of music streaming.