Psy bigger than Bieber?

19 November 2012 - 02:03 By TJ STRYDOM
Korean rapper Psy on NBC's 'Today' show in New York in September. His hit video 'Gangnam Style' is viewed almost 200 times a second on YouTube
Korean rapper Psy on NBC's 'Today' show in New York in September. His hit video 'Gangnam Style' is viewed almost 200 times a second on YouTube

The YouTube video of Korean singer Psy's Gangnam Style is viewed nearly 200 times a second.

And at this rate it will overtake the hauntingly catchy Baby by Justin Bieber within the next few days to become the most popular music video yet.

Canadian Bieber's Baby broke through 800million YouTube views on Friday, the first video to do so.

But it had a 20-month head start on the Korean superhit, which features only four English words: "hey", "sexy", "lady" and "style".

Gangnam Style is 4minutes and 13seconds of pumping rhythm, cheesy dancing, and top-quality video and music editing.

The lyrics refer to a classy, elusive girl and "a guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down" - if the blogosphere's translation is to be trusted.

It covers nearly all aspects of everyday life in the South Korean capital, except kimchi - a traditional dish of pickled cabbage - and the constant fear of a North Korean attack.

The rest is all there: from swan-shaped boats on the Han River to aerobics in the park, to a bit of pole-dancing on an underground train.

Gangnam is Seoul's Sandton. It is a mix of clean streets, skyscrapers and exclusive shops.

South Korea has about the same population as South Africa.

The people are smartphone- and web-savvy, and South Korea has the highest average internet speeds on the globe.

But that alone cannot be the reason why the video has stacked up so many views.

Uploaded in July, the YouTube video got only about 25million views in its first month.

Thereafter it went viral in a way that Ebola thankfully has not.

Tim van der Merwe, who teaches English in Korea, said Psy, the stage name of Park Jae-sang, has become a national hero.

"I'd say that at least a good 30% to 40% of the advertising is currently featuring either Psy himself, some version of the dance, or is illegitimately attaching the word 'style' to its product," he said.

The video already holds the record of more than 5million "likes" on YouTube, beating Bieber's Baby and the Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO, each with less than a third as many "likers".

But, looking at the number of views of different versions of the hit, Psy has broken through a billion already.

A Gangnam Style collaboration by Psy and female popstar Hyuna - in which Hyuna does most of the singing - had by yesterday amassed more than 150million views on YouTube.

And a live version was on 146million late yesterday.

The original Gangnam Style was on 757million views (and counting).