Which singer holds the Guinness World Record for most YouTube views? If you’re betting it’s Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, or teen-icon Justin Bieber, think again. With 1.8 billion views as of December 2013 (and growing steadily, no doubt) the record holder is none other than K-Pop sensation Psy, thanks to his ubiquitous hit “Gangnam Style.” Indeed, Gangnam Style was one of the biggest pop songs of 2012, peaking and staying at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks and selling 4.5 million copies.
Of course, K-Pop has long had a foothold in neighboring Asian countries, and it was only time before it exploded into the North American mainstream. Long before Psy danced his way to pop superstardom, acts like Wonder Girls and Super Junior were already setting teenage hearts aflame in the East. K-Pop’s popularity can be attributed to its upbeat and contemporary sound reminiscent of other genres like dance, electro, and trance. Yet its coup de grace is perhaps the catchy choruses whose simple melodies allow them to easily be memorized even by people who don’t speak Korean.
It’s not just music that people are loving, however. People also emulate the wardrobes of their favorite K-Pop singers, much the same way that people style themselves after their favorite Western pop stars. What’s more, the rise of online K-Pop fashion stores make this look even more accessible to the masses.