As Korean pop culture site Omona They Didn't points out, YouTube has changed how it ranks videos. Starting this week, YouTube no longer ranks videos by views. Instead, it ranks them by engagement. Meaning? Meaning more importance is placed on how long people watch a video, with greater weight given to videos that are watched all the way through and make people stay on YouTube and watch other videos.
How does that impact "Gangnam Style"? As of writing, the video has been completely knocked the YouTube video out of the Most Viewed Videos section.
The video first entered the top 15 on July 31. By August 1, it was number one, where it remained until October 9. On October 16, it completely vanished from the most viewed section. As a commenter on My Game News Flash points out, here's how the other Most Viewed songs were seemingly impacted by this ranking change:
PSY "Gangnam Style" - 1 → M.I.A.
One Direction "Live While We're Young" - 2 → 1
Carly Rae Jepsen "Call Me Maybe" 3 → 2
David Guetta "She Wolf (Falling To Pieces) ft. Sia" - 4 → 6
Taylor Swift "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - 5 → 3
One Direction "What Makes You Beautiful" - 6 → 7
Maroon 5 "One More Night" - 7 → 6
Christina Aguilera "Your Body" - 8 → 20
Jennifer Lopez "Goin' In ft. Flo Rida" - 9 → 9
Justin Bieber "As Long As You Love Me ft. Big Sean" - 10 → 8
Omona They Didn't thinks this means that people have only been watching the video for a few seconds, before closing it—that, or there are folks (or bots) refreshing over and over again.
Japanese site RBB Today is reporting how this sudden disappearance is being viewed online as "strange", noting that net users are saying things like the song's popularity was "manufactured" or "phony" and this just shows how "fake" the phenomenon was. On many Japanese blogs, there are accusations that the song only got views because of bots, calling it "F5 Style".
The song was never really popular in Japan, so there might have been some jealously online when the tune seemed to go supernova in the West, perhaps due to tensions between the two countries.
The tune did catch on in the West, and it definitely became a thing—just look at how well it's sold outside of South Korea. Or ask anyone who's been in a club the last few months. PSY created a hit tune and an iconic dance, and nobody can take that away from him.
The YouTube ranking change makes it seem like PSY (or his management) gamed the system—whereas, maybe there were just a lot of people watching the video over and over again or simply only watching part of it? That shouldn't necessarily dilute the tune's cultural impact, which has been significant.
The question now, however, isn't whether or not "Gangnam Style" was big, but how big it actually was.
Update: Good news PSY fans! "Gangnam Style" is now back at number one on the YouTube Most Viewed charts—and number three.
Gangnam Style out of the most viewed music chart due to YouTube changes [Omona They Didnt]
ブームがいきなり終焉!? K-POP「江南スタイル」がランク外に消える"珍事"が勃発 [RBB Today]