LOS ANGELES - South Korean rap star Psy's music video "Gangnam Style" on Saturday became the most watched item on YouTube with over 800 million views, edging past Canadian teen star Justin Bieber's two-year-old video for his song "Baby."
The milestone was the latest pop culture victory for Psy, 34, a portly rap singer known for his slicked-back hair and comic dance style who has become one of the most unlikely global stars of 2012.
Psy succeeded with a video that spawned countless parodies and became a media sensation, and in the process he gained more fame outside his native country than many of the more polished singers in South Korea's so-called K-Pop style who have sought to win over international audiences.
YouTube, in a post on its Trends blog, said "Gangnam Style" on Saturday surpassed the site's previous record holder, Bieber's 2010 music video "Baby," and by mid-day "Gangnam Style" had reached 805 million views compared to 803 million for "Baby."
"Gangnam Style" was first posted to YouTube in July, and by the following month it began to show huge popularity on YouTube with audiences outside of South Korea.
"It's been a massive hit at a global level unlike anything we've ever seen before," said the YouTube blog.
The blog also said the "velocity" of the video's popularity has been unprecedented for YouTube, and that users from all over the world search the site for the words "Psy" and "Gangnam Style".
Fans of Psy celebrated his victory, noting in the comments section of YouTube on Saturday that it took just four months for his video to rocket to over 800 million views, compared to two years for Bieber's "Baby."
In his "Gangnam Style" video, named after the affluent Gangnam District of Seoul, the outlandishly dressed Psy dances in the style of someone riding a horse and raps in Korean.
Earlier this month, Psy closed out the American Music Awards with a rousing performance of the song as he was joined on stage by MC Hammer, an American rapper whose hit single "U Can't Touch This" made him a pop culture sensation in 1990. (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Vicki Allen)