Gangham Style nearly broke YouTube

0921-gangnam-style_full_600Gangnam Style, the South Korean pop star’s enduring video phenomenon from 2012, nearly broke YouTube by getting more than 2,147,483,647 views and creating a sort of Y2K fault.

The site’s original view counter was not designed to take that many hits and its developers could not believe that a video would be watched by numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (2,147,483,647 views).

Google, which owns YouTube, in a blog post this week. ” ‘Gangnam Style’ has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade!”

When programmers built YouTube nine years ago, they probably never imagined that a video on the young platform — back when several million views was considered a smash hit — might be watched more than 2.1 billion times.

As of late Wednesday morning, “Gangnam Style” had breached the barrier, showing more than 2,152,512,000 views.

Fortunately YouTube did not collapse with smoke pouring out of a server.  YouTube’s software engineers saw the problem coming and recently updated to a 64-bit view counter across the site, Google spokesman Matt McLernon said. The view counter can now go up to 9 quintillion views (9,223,372,036,854,775,808, to be exact), which should hold PSY for a while.

“Nothing actually broke,” McLernon said. “There was never anything that actually went wrong. It’s just people having fun with the language.”

PSY’s trademark horse-riding dance video, is almost 2½ years old and was uploaded in July 2012, “Gangnam Style” was the first clip to hit a billion views and is the most-watched video of all time. It was even the 5th most-played video on YouTube this past summer.

“People still play this video an absurd number of times,” he said.

To commemorate the occasion, YouTube has added a new wrinkle: If you hover your cursor over the “Gangnam Style” view counter, the numbers spin backwards and forwards.