If only "Ice Ice Baby," "U Can't Touch This," "Macarena" or "Chicken Dance" had hit during the Internet era. Alas, they peaked too soon and it's left to Korean pop sensation Psy to gather up all that viral one-hit wonder booty.
And the horsey dancer has not wasted any time doing it. Over Thanksgiving weekend he blew by his record label homie Justin Bieber and took the all-time YouTube most-viewed record with 827 million views and counting for his signature hit, "Gangnam Style."
At this rate, he's leaving former champ, Bieber's "Baby," in the dust. While the overalls-loving Canadian pop star is not too far behind at 805 million views, MTV News asked YouTube trends manager Kevin Allocca which video he thinks might make it to the one billion mountaintop first.
"There are a number of artists who have a billion views in their catalog ... Bieber has three billion for all his videos," said Allocca. "But we haven't had a single music video pass one billion yet [and] 'Gangnam' is in position to be the one right now." With an average of 7-10 million views a day (11 million on Saturdays), Allocca said the quirky dance pop tune is still operating at an "incredible" pace that is unprecedented.
While the thought of a single video reaching one billion seemed a bit ridiculous just a few years ago, Allocca said he's pretty confident that Psy will hit that magic number at some point.
To put things in perspective, only one non-music video ("Charlie Bit My Finger") is in the all-time YouTube top 10. In fact, Allocca said the one similarity among the most-viewed clips is the universality of the artist's fanbases on a site that gets 70 percent of its traffic from outside the United States. Behind Bieber you have such global acts as Jennifer Lopez/Pitbull ("On the Floor," 625 million), Eminem/Rihanna ("Love the Way You Lie," 517 million), LMFAO ("Party Rock Anthem," 503 million), Shakira's World Cup theme ("Waka Waka," 501 million), the "Charlie" clip (498 million), Lady Gaga ("Bad Romance," 498 million), Brazilian singer Michel Telo ("Ai Se Eu Te Pego," 462 million) and Don Omar ("Danza Kuduro," 407 million).
Asked if Psy might pass the billion mark in early 2013 given his torrid pace, Allocca said it's possible, especially since the song appears to continuously picking up steam in more territories daily. "This is so unlike anything we've seen before," he said. "It's hard to say he'll average seven million a day because that's a ridiculous statement based on what we know about YouTube. But he's operating in a space where there's not a lot of history to work from."
More importantly, does Bieber — who is signed to the same label as Psy — have a chance to grab the record first? Allocca said the "Boyfriend" singer has carved such a unique spot in social media history thanks to his YouTube fueled rise that it's possible he could make a run for it as well. "What Bieber has done is a very special thing in pop culture," he said, noting that "Baby" has been online since February 2010 and has slowed down since its red-hot heyday. "He's a poster figure for using YouTube and social media to build a dedicated fanbase who feel very invested in him." In short, he's got plenty more chances to put up those kind of gaudy numbers because he's already got a massive following that is unlike the fad-like cult of Psy.
Allocca doesn't see how any other existing video could rocket past Psy at this point, but with the pace users are consuming online video it's not out of the question that the next Psy could achieve a similar feat. "Then again, that's not to say that it [moving past Psy] can't happen tomorrow."