Being popular is about the only thing the most-viewed YouTube videos have in common with their top-performing predecessors. Even though YouTube videos like Charlie Bit My Finger or Chocolate Rain went viral during the first few years of YouTube’s content, they probably wouldn’t be among the kinds of videos that go viral now. In fact, children’s programming and music videos are now among the most-viewed content on YouTube. Music videos in particular have enjoyed great success on the streaming site and are now the majority of the most-viewed videos in YouTube’s history.
If these view counts are anything to go by, the video-sharing site could be considered a leading platform for music videos and kid-friendly content rather than just the meme-worthy viral videos the site was known for in its early days.
10. Justin Bieber — Sorry (3.34 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 10th 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.
9. Miroshka TV — Learning Colors Multi-Colored Eggs on the Farm (3.64 billion)
Educational entertainment for children is slowly taking over the rankings for the most-viewed videos on YouTube. That isn’t surprising if you think of it like this: If kids are going to be staring at screens for a decent portion of the day, it makes sense that the programming of choice among parents would be free to access and, better yet, educational. Miroshka TV’s Learning Colors Multi-Colored Eggs on the Farm is no exception. It’s an educational video for kids that has already racked up over 3.6 billion views in the two years since it was first uploaded.
It’s a fun, five-minute video that teaches young children about different colors via (crudely) animated eggs on a farm. The video itself is narrated in Russian and teaches kids the names of different colors in Russian. The only parts of the video that aren’t in Russian are the music (which is Old MacDonald Had a Farm in English) and any subtitles that appear (if you have them turned on). The video has a slow pace — some scenes are a bit long — but the funny, silly moments will appeal to younger audiences.
8. Psy — Gangnam Style (3.78 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 — which was an amazing achievement for its time. It went on to become the first video to reach 2 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 remains one of the 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.
7. LooLoo Kids — Johny Johny Yes Papa (3.86 billion)
Another video for kids that made it into the top 10 most-viewed YouTube videos is Johny Johny Yes Papa. It’s a short, animated music video about a mischievous baby and his Papa. It’s a simple song about a baby trying to eat some sugar (literal sugar cubes) even though his Papa obviously doesn’t approve. Does the kid get the sugar? You’ll have to watch to find out. The song itself isn’t annoying, either — it’s almost too simple and short to be a nuisance. That’s a good thing, considering it’s been viewed/listened to over 3 billion times.
6. Mark Ronson — Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars (3.95 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 (4.33 billion)
Recipe for Disaster is one of many episodes from the Russian CGI-animated TV show for kids Masha and the Bear. It’s one of only two entries that isn’t a music video and only one of four 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 five videos 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 featuring Charlie Puth (4.72 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 4 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 (4.98 billion)
Whether you watched 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 one of the most popular videos of all time.
2. Pinkfong — Baby Shark Dance (6.57 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 inspired 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 featuring Daddy Yankee (6.97 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 Rican 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.