The Insane Virality of 'Gangnam Style' vs. 'Call Me Maybe' in One Chart

YouTube Trends reveals the data behind the astronomical rise of the two pop hits of the summer.

YouTube's trends manager, Kevin Allocca, has revealed the data behind the astronomical rise of PSY's South Korean pop hit "Gangnam Style," which is all the more remarkable in contrast with the other megahit of the summer, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." If you have somehow managed to avoid watching the insufferably catchy videos but want to get it over with at long last, check them out below. The two are currently topping YouTube's most viewed music videos (this week). In YouTube's chart, one can see that while "Call Me" amassed a staggering 250 million views since it went live on March 1,* "Gangnam" has 150 million views -- since July 15. 

If the trend continues, it looks like "Gangnam" might catch up by the end of the month. Allocca points out the contrast of the explosive spread of "Gangnam" (now played 6 millions times a day) with the long-term staying power of "Call Me" (a consistent 1.5 million views a day). Why? Allocca notes several considerations, but the most important difference could be that "Gangnam"'s appeal is more global. While girly teen pop resonates with Canadian and American audiences (including U.S. soldiers abroad), Korean techno and absurd dance moves (albeit techno with a subversive message) might be a more universally appealing language. Given that viral success like this is often driven by fan videos that mimic the originals, this distinction makes sense. "Call Me Maybe" fan videos generally focus on lip-synching along, which is less fun for non-English speaking fans. Meanwhile, PSY's rodeo-style galloping dance moves transcend language barriers (even if Britney Spears struggled to get the hang of it on the Ellen show). As YouTube's global audience continues to grow, U.S. viewers can probably look forward to more mystifying and delightful foreign pop imports. 

Are you on team Jepsen or team PSY? Pick your poison: 

* The "Call Me" video had actually been live on YouTube before March 1, but after Carly Jae Jepsen's single was picked up for distribution by Justin Bieber's label, a new version of the music video was posted to Vevo on March 1 and the old version was taken down. YouTube Trends did not include data for the earlier version of the video in the report.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Video

Just In