YouTube has come a long way since its first-ever video, “Me at the zoo,” was uploaded 15 years ago, transforming into an outlet for news, entertaining videos, music and a variety of other cultural phenomenons.
While it may not have been the intention of the three YouTube founders to make the site for the purpose of sharing music, in its last 15 years, the social media platform has emerged as a launchpad for music videos – which now make up the majority of its most-viewed clips.
In the past 15 years, there have been numerous videos to reach the 1bn-views mark, but only a handful have surpassed the achievement to reach 3bn and so on.
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From Gangnam Style to the Baby Shark Dance, these are the 10 most-viewed YouTube videos ever.
10. Katy Perry – Roar (3.05bn views)
Perry released Roar on 18 October 2013 as part of her Prism album. Upon the song’s release, it became Perry’s eighth number one song on the US Hot 100 list.
In July 2015, two years after the jungle-themed music video for the song was released, Roar reached 1bn views on YouTube, making Perry the first artist to have two music videos exceed that milestone.
9. Maroon 5 – Sugar (3.17bn views)
Sugar was released as a single on 13 January 2015. Despite never reaching first place on the Hot 100 list – it only managed to reach number two – it accumulated 3bn plays on YouTube in just over four years.
8. Justin Bieber – Sorry (3.27bn views)
It’s no surprise that Bieber is on the list with his song Sorry, released on 23 October 2015 as part of his fourth studio album.
When it was released, the song topped the charts of 13 countries, including Bieber’s native Canada and the US.
7. PSY- Gangnam Style (3.58bn views)
When Gangnam Style was released on 15 July 2012 it became a cultural phenomenon, eventually becoming the first YouTube video to be viewed more than 1bn times.
Considering the video managed to reach that achievement within six months of its release, it’s no wonder that it has managed to retain its spot in the top 10 eight years later.
6. Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk ft Bruno Mars (3.82bn views)
Released on 10 November 2014, Uptown Funk topped the Hot 100 list for 14 weeks and broke several streaming records – including its own streaming record three times in the United Kingdom.
5. Masha and the Bear – “Recipe for Disaster” (4.26bn views)
“Recipe for Disaster” is an episode of Russian children’s show Masha and the Bear, and the only entry on the list that is not music-oriented.
The show, which is made with CGI, is immensely popular on YouTube, where numerous episodes have been viewed millions of times.
4. Wiz Khalifa – See You Again ft Charlie Puth (4.51bn views)
See You Again became YouTube’s second video to pass the 2bn view mark and is one of only five videos viewed more than 4bn times.
Between 10 July and 4 August 2017, the video was the highest-viewed video on YouTube, after it eclipsed Gangnam Style.
While the song was popular in its own right, its tie-in with the Fast and the Furious movie Furious 7 likely had to do with its high view count.
3. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You (4.73bn views)
Shape of You was popular immediately after it was released, peaking at number one on the singles charts of 34 countries, including the Hot 100. It later became the best performing song of 2017 and the second-fastest YouTube video to reach 2bn and 3bn views.
2. Pinkfong – Baby Shark Dance (5.15bn views)
The Baby Shark Dance may be considered a music video, but it does differ from its counterparts on the list as it is both animated and for children.
The educational video was created by Pinkfong, a Korean-based YouTube channel for kids that creates videos of sing-along songs and dances, and found immense fame in 2018 when it went viral.
Variations of the video have accumulated millions of views as well.
1. Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft Daddy Yankee (6.72bn views)
The most-viewed video on YouTube is none other than the 2017 hit Despacito by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
Interestingly, the song, which is almost entirely in Spanish, was YouTube’s first-ever video to reach more than 4bn, 5bn and 6bn views.
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