My daughter, who is 17 and a senior in high school, is one of my best sources for what is hip and trendy. Last week she started talking to me about PSY, the incredibly popular Korean artist Park Jae-Sang, and his incredibly popular music video Gangnam Style. What’s that you say? The video has over 100 million views on YouTube, all kinds of famous artists liking it and imitating it, and lots of people talking about it.
The song debuted at #6 on the Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 for the week of July 28, 2012 and recently hit #1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, overtaking Justin Bieber‘s As Long as You Love Me and Katy Perry’s Wide Awake. Of the more than 102 million views, about 47% of the views came from the United States, 7% from the United Kingdom, 6.8% from Canada and 4% from South Korea.
Nielsen recently highlighted the popularity of YouTube among young listeners. One of the most important points about PSY and his song Gangnam Style is that it’s as big as it is without the help of radio. Songs are getting made completely without the help of radio, and that’s a new thing.
There are a lot of levels to this song, the artist makes a bunch of socio-economic statements that are more recognizable to a Korean audience. But the video and songs’ appeal go way beyond that, it’s funny and fun to watch even if you don’t understand get the underlying message. But more than anything, what this video makes clear is this: the US doesn’t make or break an artist anymore, and selling songs is a global game. Island Records signed the artist well after his video became a hit on YouTube. The new way to break music is online, with labels waiting on the sidelines. So here’s what I wonder: how many broadcast stations are playing PSY’s tune this week?…