Psy hailed his ascent to “Billion Style” yesterday, after the South Korean rapper’s viral hit became the first video to break a billion views on YouTube, marking a historic milestone on the Internet.
The view counter for Gangnam Style, which was posted on the video-sharing site on July 15, clicked over into 10 figures at about 3:30pm GMT on Friday, amid an ongoing global craze for the singer and his horse-riding dance.
“Finally becoming #BillionStyle!!!” Psy wrote on Twitter.
Among the first to congratulate him was US rapper M.C. Hammer, of 1990s U Can’t Touch This fame, who posted on Twitter: “Congratulations !!! You made history !!! 1 Billion Views !!!!”
Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s trends manager, attributed Psy’s success “to the universal appeal of catchy music — and, er, great equine dance moves.”
Psy has swept all before him in the past five months, hoovering up awards and scoring guest appearances with everyone from Madonna to the head of the UN.
The timing of the 1 billion views breakthrough dovetailed with a viral social network hoax that had the 16th century French seer Nostradamus apparently referencing Psy as a harbinger of Friday’s “apocalypse.”
Billboard.com said Gangnam was estimated to have generated US$2 million from YouTube alone at a reported rate of US$2 for every 1,000 views, with digital downloads and on-demand services bringing earnings from the song to US$6.01 million in just five months.
It also earned Psy a contract with Justin Bieber’s management agency, and it has been claimed the song has generated over US$8.1 million in advertising deals.
Rolling Stone put Gangnam Style at No. 25 on its top-50 list of best songs for this year and labeled Psy as “Seoul Brother No. 1.”
Psy plans to wrap up the year with an appearance on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC in New York, his agency said.
Although its imminent demise has been predicted many times, the Gangnam phenomenon has refused to die.
Every time it has looked like fading, another parody, another celebrity or even another world leader has popped up to administer some publicity CPR.
The song — which refers to a trendy Seoul district — has spawned a mini tribute video industry and has been co-opted by an impressive roster of big names, including Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未).
The public has joined in, with tens of thousands turning out for giant flash-mob performances in cities such as Paris and Rome, and there have been copycat videos from soldiers in Afghanistan and prisoners in the Philippines.
The quirky star, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, has won adulation in his homeland for the global hit and was this month awarded one of South Korea’s highest cultural honors, the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit.
Psy hit a speed bump in the US last month when anti-US views he voiced a decade ago caught up with him — but he apologized and went on to perform at a Christmas gala attended by US President Barack Obama and his family.
South Korea sees popular culture as a potent export force, providing international exposure for a country that feels overlooked in comparison to China and Japan.
The South Korean government has spent substantial time and money supporting the so-called Hallyu (Korean Wave) of TV shows and pop music that has swept across Asia in the past decade.