Most of us understand the power of social, the Web and this growing emphasis on viral media. Yet, what has some of us scratching our heads is the question: Why do some of the most outlandish, comedic and downright ridiculous ideas go viral, while others do not?
Cue the latest viral phenomenon: Gangnam Style by Korean pop sensation Psy. The funny song and dance has taken the world by storm, garnering 300 million Google YouTube views in just three months, and inspiring TV hosts, marching bands and even Chat Roulette users to “Dress Classy and Dance Cheesy.” What in the heck makes this piece of pop entertainment so sought after, so intriguing and so viral?
For those literately-engaged, a 2007 book titled “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” holds some insights on the viral trend. Specifically, the book delves into why some ideas go viral – such as Gangnam Style – while others remain drab.
“We wanted to take apart sticky ideas – both natural and created – and figure out what makes them stick,” said brothers Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick.
The crux of the book identifies six core principles turned wittingly into one single acronym – S.U.C.C.E.S. Broken down, the Heath brothers claim that the propensity of an idea to gain mass appeal is as follows:
So how does Psy’s Gangnam Style stack up against these six core principles?
Simplicity: Perhaps nothing is as simple as a catchy dance tune in a language a majority of the world does not understand. All image here – a funny short Korean man dancing his way through the streets. Surely the simplicity rings clear as the only decipherable lyrics are “Hey, sexy lady,” and the very title of the song – Gangnam Style.
Unexpectedness: In a world rocked by global recession, this light-hearted and fun song was totally unexpected – and some would say totally refreshing. The easy going feel behind the viral video, song and dance makes it easy for anyone to enjoy – even if for a brief moment.
Concreteness: Perhaps the genius behind Gangnam Style is the fact that it’s not just a song – it’s also a dance and increasingly a recognized style. According to Psy, Gangnam Style was inspired by the Gangman region of Korea – where the women dress classy and dance cheesy. Apparently, Gangnam is comparable to Beverly Hills – an area of affluent Koreans who can let go of their inhibitions and ride the pony.
Credibility: As with concreteness, the credibility of Gangnam Style comes from the dance. One YouTuber actually commented that Psy’s viral song is “a piece of pop-art.”
Emotions: Any communication pulls on our emotions – and Gangnam Style definitely brings out the fun-side in all of us. You just can’t help but break out the dance when the song comes on – even if in the privacy of your own bedroom.
Stories: Surely Gangnam Style tells a story – particularly the actual music video that is behind the viral phenomenon. The number of stories that have occurred as a result of Psy’s dance moves have propelled this virus out of Asia and around the globe.