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"Gangnam Style" is a 2012 single by the South Korean music artist PSY. The news agency Agence France-Presse reported that while many believe "Gangnam Style" will ultimately prove to be a one-hit wonder, the song has shown surprising staying power as well as an unlikely ability to "penetrate international corridors of power".[1] As a result, the effects of the song has been considerable.

Music Industry[]

According to Adam Sherwin from the British newspaper The Independent, record executives in the music industry have acknowledged that the British music charts will increasingly be filled with "YouTube-driven globalised acts" from foreign countries. Sherwin explained that the global web demand for Gangnam Style had "short-circuited the traditional reluctance" of radio stations to play foreign-language songs and as a result, future music stars will no longer be obliged to sing in English.[2]

The Harvard Business Review published an article written by Kevin Evers, who wrote that Gangnam Style had changed Billboard's ranking methodology of its music charts. Instead of relying solely on radio plays and paid purchases, Billboard started to place a heavier emphasis on digital sales and YouTube views.[3] As a result of the change, Gangnam Style moved up to the top position of Billboard's Hot Rap Songs music chart.[4]

Although PSY earned more than US$60,000 from music sales of "Gangnam Style" in South Korea alone, he and his music label YG Entertainment have raked in almost US$1 million from advertisements which appear on YouTube videos indentified for using "Gangnam Style" in its content. According to the Associated Press, the song is underlining a shift in how money is being made in the music business.[5]

Zoe Chace from the American media organization NPR remarked that the song is "not some viral fluke". She explained that "Gangnam Style" is the product of a build-up of South Korea's music industry that has been in the works for 20 years, and is is what happens when a developing country becomes developed.[6]

ABC News told its viewers that if the "viral onslaught" of Gangnam Style is any indication, Korean Pop, also known as K-Pop, is poised to make a "huge splash in America".[7]}}

According to the news agency Reuters, the success of PSY's Gangnam Style has led to other K-pop artists positioning themselves for a similar breakthrough in the U.S. music industry.[8] Frances Moore, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, brought up Gangnam Style as an example of how South Korea became one of the "most successful exporters of repertoire".[9]

Max Fisher of The Washington Post asserted that K-pop music producers would aim to engineer into their "cultural technology industrial complex" certain characteristics of Gangnam Style in the hope of replicating the song's worldwide success.[10]

However, the American journalist John Seabrook noted that by "satirizing standard K-pop tropes in Gangnam Style", PSY may have subverted the music genre's chances of making it big in the West.[11]

Increased interest in the Hallyu wave[]

Agence France-Presse reported that the phenomenal success of "Gangnam Style" has played a significant role in spreading the Korean Wave, or Hallyu wave to other countries.[12] As the song continued to attract worldwide media attention, it also led to various broadcasting networks and national newspapers focusing its attention on Korean popular music (K-pop) and other aspects of Korean culture. For example, The Daily Telegraph published an article recommending its readers to try out everything from K-Pop to "K-Cars", "K-Phones" and "K-Cuisine".[13] The British multinational grocery and retailer Tesco reported that its total sales of Korean food had more than doubled as a result of the popularity of "Gangnam Style".[14]

Kim Byoung-gi, the Korean Ambassador to Lebanon, wrote that "Gangnam Style" has helped bridge Lebanese and Korean cultures.[15]

South Korea[]


In 2012, the South Korean government announced that "Gangnam Style" had brought in $13.4 million to the country’s audio sector.[16] According to the Bank of Korea, the country's services account recorded a surplus of USD 2.3 billion in the first nine months of this year, compared to a deficit of USD 4.5 billion last year. This was mainly due to the growing influence and popularity of K-pop songs such as "Gangnam Style".[17]

A few weeks after the release of "Gangnam Style", several corporations related to "Gangnam Style" began to see a significant surge in share prices. Since releasing the song in mid-July 2012, share prices of YG Entertainment have gained more than 50 percent.

According to Bloomberg, the South Korean manufacturer of semiconductors DI Corporation, which is owned by the father of Psy, saw its share price rally by almost 500 percent since the release of "Gangnam Style". Hite Jinro, a producer of alcoholic beverages, climbed 7.6 percent over seven trading days after Psy drank a bottle of the company’s drink during a concert in Seoul.[18]

On September 7, the South Korean technology company Samsung Electronics announced that Psy would be one of the new faces promoting its Zipel line of refrigerators.[19] A commercial was recently released featuring Psy and the K-Pop singer Lee Seung-gi dancing to the music of "Gangnam Style" in front of an Internet refrigerator.[20]

The song was also used to launch the Samsung Galaxy Note II, in Canada. Paul Brannen, the Vice President of Mobile Communications at Samsung Canada said "The new Samsung GALAXY Note II is the ultimate smartphone for on-the-go productivity and content creation so we are thrilled to team up with PSY to launch this category-leading device – Gangnam Style."[21][22]

Academic influence[]

Dan Freeman, professor of marketing at the University of Delaware, remarks that Psy's achievement is an anomaly which counters the typical trend of successful international artists, because foreign music poses a difficult challenge due to language issues, making it unlikely for a song to catch on "when you don't even understand the words". Freeman asserts that Psy owes his success in the United States to YouTube, because of YouTube's effectiveness in reaching a broad market.[23]

According to a blog post published on the Harvard Business Review by Dae Ryun Chang, Professor of Marketing at Yonsei University, one primary factor that has contributed to "Gangnam Style"s international success is the song's intentional lack of a copyright. This allows people to easily adopt, re-stylize and then spread the song.[24] Brian Gozun, Dean of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business at De La Salle University, writes that the absence of a copyright and the use of crowd-sourcing are just some of the more innovative ways that Psy has marketed his song.[25]

David Bell, marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that "Gangnam Style" lacks a certain aggressive attitude that many find offensive in the rap genre, and "Gangnam Style" is like a classic rap video from a few years ago with girls and cars—"not as offensive and in your face, but with a humorous edge". Bell argues that it is Psy's accessible image, not his message, that has made the song so popular.[26]

The French-born political commentator Tim Soutphommasane, a Research fellow at Monash University, agrees that the Gangnam phenomenon is "something worth studying". According to Soutphommasane, the world is only beginning to appreciate Gangnam Style as "part of a broader hallyu cultural wave coming out of the country [South Korea]".[27] The American Council on Exercise has estimated that dancing "Gangnam Style" will burn 150–200 calories per half hour.[28]

During his speech at the University of Vermont, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek brought up "Gangnam Style" as an example of a "pure ideological phenomenon".[29][30] Sean Carey, a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton wrote that "Gangnam Style" could be a "game-changer" for the international music scene. Carey explained that because of the song's popularity, leading figures in the recording industry believe that the flow of popular music will no longer be a single traffic route from North America and Europe to other parts of the globe, but will also move the other way as well.[31]

Mark Archibald, assistant director for global community engagement in the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa brought up "Gangnam Style" as a song which transcends cultures. He explained that when viewed by an American audience, "Gangnam Style" is a "bunch of random Koreans doing goofy things", but to South Koreans it is a "parade of A-list celebrities". Archibald also noted that the song's popularity occurred in a cross-cultural context that occurs frequently in our everyday lives.[32]

The phrase "Gangnam Style" was listed in Time's weekly vocabulary list as a manner associated with lavish lifestyles in Seoul's Gangnam district.[33] "Gangnam" was also included in the New Oxford American Dictionary.[34]

Flash mobs[]

The earliest "Gangnam Style" flash mobs were held in Pasadena, California,[35] and Sydney, Australia.[36] On September 12, Times Square in Manhattan was filled with a flash mob dancing to the music of "Gangnam Style" during ABC's Good Morning America.[37] Five days later, Psy appeared in a flash mob organized by the American entertainment TV show Extra in Los Angeles. The dress code was either "something comfortable" or "Psy-inspired clothing."[38] A "Gangnam Style" flash mob in front of the Obelisco de Buenos Aires national monument in Argentina was shown on the national news programme Antes del Mediodía.[39]

Through social networks like Facebook, many other small, unofficial fan-organized flash mobs have also taken place in various places including: 800 at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta,[40] hundreds of Silpakorn University students in Thailand,[41] a flash mob at a food court in Sweden,[42] more than 100 Cornell University students in Ithaca, New York,[43] more than 250 students from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland,[44] inside the Mariscal López shopping mall in Asunción, Paraguay,[45] at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany,[46] at a K-Pop cover dance festival in Warsaw, Poland,[47] at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota,[48] at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Dolgoprudny, Russia,[49] at Torgallmenningen in Bergen, Norway,[50] during the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines,[51] and at a Gay pride parade in Stockholm, Sweden.[52]

A few of these "Gangnam Style" flash mobs have attracted more than 1000 participants:

Country Location Participants Remarks
Italy Piazza del Popolo, Rome 30,000[53]
France Jardins du Trocadéro, Paris 20,000[54] Organized by NRJ Radio[54]
Italy Piazza del Duomo, Milan 20,000[55]
South Korea Seoul 15,000[56]
Indonesia Makassar, South Sulawesi 12,000[57] Record for largest group performance in Indonesia[57]
Italy Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa 10,000[58]
Italy Palermo, Sicily 9,000[59]
Poland Castle Square, Warsaw 6,000[60]
Italy Cagliari, Sardinia 4,000[61]
Italy Piazza Bra, Verona 2000+[62]
China Chongwen District, Beijing 1,000+[63]
Iceland Hafnarfjörður, Greater Reykjavík 1,000+[64] Record for largest group performance in Iceland[64]
United States University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1,000+[65]
Germany Bautzen, Saxony 1,000[66] Record for largest Internet-organized performance in East Saxony[66]
Indonesia Jakarta 1,000[67]


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