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Happy Birthday to Gangham Style, the YouTube Video that Sparked a Global K-Pop Revolution

One year ago today, Psy posted a video to YouTube that would change the music industry. To say that “Gangnam Style” went viral would be an understatement; after being release, “Gangnam Style” quickly became not only the most viewed video on YouTube but also the first video to reach 1 billion views on the network – its current count stands at over 1.7 billion. And that’s not all. “Gangnam Style” has become a global music sensation played in bars and clubs around the world. Just a few months ago at a karaoke bar in Santiago, Chile, for example, I witnessed a dance competition to none other than “Gangnam Style.” Talk about global reach.

Despite its intense popularity as a stand-alone song, “Gangnam Style” is no one-hit-wonder. The popularity of “Gangnam Style” seems to have sparked a rise in global interest in K-Pop. According to YouTube Trends, views of Korean artists on YouTube tripled in the year following the release of “Gangnam Style.” This chart tracks monthly views on top K-Pop channels, including Psy’s:

Chart of the increase in K-Pop popularity around the world

This increase in viewership is largely due to a craving for K-Pop that’s been born in places around the world where, pre-Gangnam Style, K-Pop was not very popular. In 2011, less than half of the views on top K-Pop channels on YouTube came from outside the Asia-Pacific region. Now, the majority of K-Pop channel viewership comes from outside of the region, with 91% of viewing coming from outside of Korea. In fact, U.S. viewership of top K-Pop channels doubled in the year after “Gangnam Style” was released.

K-Pop viewing chart asia-pacific compared to rest of world

To celebrate the global adoption of K-Pop, YouTube’s created a playlist of the top 10 K-Pop hits since “Gangnam Style.” Psy tops the list with his global follow-up “Gentleman,” but you should check out the playlist for other artists you may have watched recently. If you find anything you like, let us know in the comments.

Charts via YouTube Trends

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