After “Gangnam Style,” the breakout single by K-Pop sensation PSY, surpassed Justin Bieber’s “Baby” to become the most viewed YouTube video on Saturday The Atlantic‘s Connor Simpson posited an interesting thought about the tune’s popularity and its appeal. In a post called “Is Being the Most Viewed YouTube Video the New Jumping the Shark?,” Simpson questioned the tune’s omnipresence and asked if perhaps the unprecedented level of popularity will also be its downfall:
But enough is enough already. The performance with MC Hammer was a nice touch, but how about a new single, hm? You’re dangerously close to “jumping the shark” territory, if becoming the most viewed and performing with MC Hammer didn’t already put you over the top.
While this level of ubiquity—and, more interestingly, the way its measured–has reached a new height, the kind of universal status that PSY has achieved with “Gangnam Style” isn’t a foreign concept in pop music. But describing this measurement of popularity in terms of “jumping the shark,” is new, and rather strange. “Jumping the shark” is an idiom derived from the infamous episode of Happy Days when Fonzie leaps over a shark on waterskis: It’s an episode that, all these years later, has easily been talked about more than seen, and it’s become the go-to phrase to describe the tipping point marking an artistic endeavor’s creative failure.
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