In August 2012, word got out about this absolutely bonkers Korean video that you had to see to believe. It was "Gangnam Style," a K-pop sugar rush starring the South Korean singer/rapper Psy, who despite being somewhat egg-shaped, could really bust a move.
Unlike the squeaky clean K-pop stars BTS, which conquered the world several years later, Psy was somewhat subversive and became a global sensation organically. Born Park Jae-sang, his stage name, Psy, stems from the first three letters of the word "psycho." Popular in his home country, he was known for the satirical slant of his songs and his humorous videos and stage performances.
"Gangnam Style" was released on July 15, 2012 and entered the South Korean singles chart (Gaon) at #1, spending five weeks at the peak position. A few weeks later, the rest of the world discovered the song as it spread virally on YouTube, with various celebrities and influencers posting about it.
The numbers were staggering: In September 2012, it became the most-liked video in YouTube history, with over 2 million likes (surpassing LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem
," which had about 1.5 million). In November, it became the most-viewed video in YouTube history, with over 800 million views to overtake Justin Bieber's "Baby
." On December 21, 2012, it became the first video to reach a billion views on the service.