For now, YouTube’s most popular videos are videos of a completely different sort. Videos that went viral when YouTube first emerged wouldn’t necessarily go viral now. And while videos like Charlie Bit My Finger or Chocolate Rain snatched everyone’s attention during the first five years of YouTube’s most viewed content, videos from popular musicians like Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran now dominate the list. Music videos are now the most popular videos ever viewed in YouTube’s history.
Younger generations of web users clearly view YouTube as the most trusted media platform in the world. And if these view counts are anything to go by, the video-sharing site might be considered a mainstay platform for music videos too.
10. Katy Perry — Roar (3.04 billion)
Katy Perry continues to hold her Top 10 reign as Roar maintains its popularity. Originally making its YouTube appearance on September 5, 2013, Perry previously teased Roar multiple times on the site, making it one of the few top 10 videos in this list to use the platform for pre-release promotion.
As the oldest music video on our list other than Gangnam Style, Roar apparently has real staying power and should continue to be one of the world’s most viewed YouTube videos for some time to come.
9. Maroon 5 — Sugar (3.15 billion)
You wouldn’t expect a music video loosely based on 2005’s romantic comedy Wedding Crashers to be a mega-hit, but that’s exactly what happened with Maroon 5’s Sugar. Perhaps it’s because both the film and music video had the same director. Maybe it’s due to Maroon 5’s Billboard-smashing popularity in pop music since its debut in 2001. Whatever the reason, Sugar slips into the ninth spot with just over 3 billion views.
Sugar premiered on Maroon 5’s Vevo channel on YouTube on January 14, 2015. It would be the biggest hit from that year if it weren’t also joined by Sorry (J. Bieber) and See You Again (W. Khalifa).
8. Justin Bieber — Sorry (3.26 billion)
Although Justin Bieber became the second musical artist to achieve a 1 billion-view video on YouTube, he reached that status with Baby, not the current eighth video on our list. Interestingly enough, Sorry proved to be his most popular YouTube video by far, with more than 3 billion views to date.
Sorry was the 22nd video to reach the billion-view mark. However, the music video quickly proved itself, becoming one of the fastest to reach the 2 billion mark. It easily sailed on to 3 billion without much trouble.
7. PSY — Gangnam Style (3.56 billion)
A true icon in YouTube’s video history, Psy’s Gangnam Style was a monster hit, becoming the very first YouTube video viewed more than a billion times. Even more, it reached that goal in less than six months after its release — from July to December 2012 — an amazing achievement for its time. It went on to become the first video to reach two billion views in May 2014 and didn’t see a close competitor until 2015.
Given that more than 100 videos on YouTube can boast a billion views or more, Gangnam Style still remains as one of those most-watched videos of all time. It beats the much younger competition to retain its Top 10 spot almost eight years after its explosive debut.
6. Mark Ronson — Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars (3.80 billion)
Even though it’s older than the top three videos on this list, Uptown Funk continues to gather new viewers to remain a potential chart-topping threat. Ronson’s video made its YouTube debut in November 2014 and swiftly became one of the most popular and well-liked videos ever.
Arguably just as impressive as its overall view count is that it beat such stiff competition from its contemporaries. Big music videos from other major artists, like Katy Perry, saw their big 2014 hits achieve multiple billions of views. Uptown Funk still manages to eclipse those achievements.
5. Masha and the Bear — Recipe for Disaster (4.25 billion)
Recipe for Disaster is one of many episodes from the Russian CGI-animated TV show for kids, Masha and the Bear. It’s the only entry that isn’t a music video and only one of three that isn’t entirely in English. The show is widely popular outside its home country, and many episodes have huge view counts on YouTube. It’s also broadcast on Netflix and NBCUniversal in a collective episode format.
The Recipe for Disaster episode is of particular interest due to its astronomical view count. It’s in a hallowed club of just nine videos that eclipsed 3 billion views and one of five that topped 4 billion. It’s the most popular non-music video of all time on YouTube, perhaps anywhere.
Get Movies, the channel that uploaded Recipe for Disaster, earned loads of viewers just from this one specific episode.
4. Wiz Khalifa — See You Again ft. Charlie Puth (4.47 billion)
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again is the first video on this list to have a movie tie-in — Furious 7 — to aid its promotion. It managed more than four billion views since its April 2015 debut and serves as a tribute to Paul Walker, the former star of the Fast Saga who died in 2013.
Between July 10 and August 4, 2017, the video remained as the most viewed video on YouTube, dethroning Gangnam Style. That reign was only temporary, as it was eclipsed by Despacito. It was also the most liked video between August 26, 2016, and July 25, 2017.
See You Again became the second video to pass the 2 billion view mark and is one of only five videos viewed more than 4 billion times.
3. Ed Sheeran — Shape of You (4.69 billion)
You could arguably tack an extra 840 million views to Ed Sheeran’s most popular YouTube hit, as the lyric video released alongside is a hugely popular video in its own right. Whether you watch it or not, there’s no denying that Shape of You is one of the most-watched videos of all time. It holds records as the third-fastest video to reach a billion views and is the second-fastest to reach 2 billion and 3 billion views as well.
Shape of You achieved all of its view count accolades in just two years, having debuted in January 2017. It seems poised to only cement itself further as the second most popular video of all time.
2. Pinkfong — Baby Shark Dance (4.91 billion)
Sometimes a song becomes famous solely because it’s an earworm. We’ve seen it happen with Barney in the early days, so it’s no surprise it happened again with an insanely catchy kid’s song about a shark family.
Baby Shark Dance, produced by Korean pop manufacturer Pinkfong, isn’t a complicated song. It has sharks, repetition, and a considerable amount of existential dread — that’s about it. However, this song rose to become the newest member on the list and inspire countless variations found across YouTube.
Let’s be honest: If bringing up Baby Shark and playing it 12 times in a row is the only way to calm your toddler down, every parent with access to the internet is going to do exactly that. Expect Baby Shark’s meteoric rise to continue.
1. Luis Fonsi — Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee (6.69 billion)
For a site run by an American company and dominated by English-speaking content, it’s perhaps a surprise to see that the most popular YouTube video of all time — and one that shows no sign of being eclipsed anytime soon — is sung almost entirely in Spanish.
Featuring Puerto Rico artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Despacito hit YouTube in January 2017 and racked up more than a billion views in just 97 days — the second-fastest run ever. The video went on to become the fastest to garner 2 billion views and the first-ever video to exceed 4 billion, 5 billion, and now 6 billion views.
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