YouTube's Most Viewed Music Videos of All Time
The best-known musicians certainly have popular channels. Most of them gained their fame by having many people watching their music videos. None of them have one-off videos with world-shattering viewing figures. In comparison, Adele’s Hello with nearly 2.2 billion views only ranked #15 and off the list.
1. Despacito - Luis Fonsi (5.4 billion)
Total views: 5.393.408.546
Despacito’s rise to the top of this list in 2017, demonstrates two essential points about YouTube. Firstly, it shows that YouTube’s popularity is forever increasing. There was a time when nobody thought that anybody would overtake Gangnam Style.
The song topped the charts of 47 countries and entered the Top 10 in ten others. It was the first song to top the Billboard 100 in Spanish in 20 years.
Interestingly, Justin Bieber released a remix version a few months later, where he sang some lines in English. While this probably helped the original’s YouTube performance, it didn’t overtake it or enter the YouTube Most Viewed charts.
Despacito became the first video on YouTube to achieve the milestones of both three and four billion views. It overtook See You Again to take YouTube’s All-time Number 1 spot in August 2017.
2. See You Again - Wiz Khalifa (3.7 billion)
Total views: 3.687.807.448
See You Again held YouTube’s Number One position from July 10 to August 4, 2017, and was the video that finally broke “Gangnam Style’s” hold on the top rank. It was, of course, only 25 days, until Despacito made its charge and overtook See You Again.
The main reason for See You Again’s success was that it was commissioned as the theme for the movie, “Furious 7”. It was written as a tribute to fan-favorite, the late actor Paul Walker.
It is both Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s most successful track to date. The song spent 12 weeks at the top of the US Billboard 100 and reached Number One in a number of other countries.
It also held the record for the most streamed track in a single day on Spotify in the US, as well as records for most streams in a week worldwide and in the UK.
3. Shape of You - Ed Sheeran (3.7 billion)
Total views: 3.673.971.500
Ed Sheeran had a hugely successful 2017. No matter where you went, there always seemed to be an Ed Sheeran song playing. He even performed a cameo role in an episode of “Game of Thrones.”
He released Shape of You as a digital download on 6 January 2017. He also included it as part of his third studio album.
The song made it to Number 1 on the singles charts of 44 countries. It topped the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 2017. It was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
Ed Sheeran released a lyric video for the song on his channel. People have viewed that version over 750 million times to date. On 30 January 2017, the official video was uploaded to YouTube. The video became one of the fastest videos to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. It achieved this milestone on 8 May 2017, just 97 days after its release.
4. Gangnam Style - PSY (3.2 billion)
Total views: 18.104.22.1685
It would be fair to say that Gangnam Style was an unexpected mega-hit, that set records on YouTube, that some people believed would never be bettered.
The video shows Psy poking fun at the style of Seoul’s Gangnam-gu. This is claimed to be, “a flashy district with high rents, high expectations and a focus on the high-status lifestyle."
Psy’s official YouTube account uploaded the video on July 15, 2012. On November 24th that year, Gangnam Style overtook Justin Bieber’s then-record of 803,700,000 views to take the coveted Number 1 spot on YouTube. It stayed in that position for an incredible 1,689 days.
Gangnam Style didn’t take long to take the accolade of being the first video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, receiving that honor in December 2012. It reached 2 billion views in June 2014, and 3 billion in January 2018.
The video holds a few other YouTube records. It was the most rated video until February 2017, and most liked video until August 2016. Until Adele’s Hello passed it on January 18, 2016, it held the record for the fastest video to reach 1 billion views. It still holds the record for being the most discussed video.
5. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson (3.2 billion)
Total views : 22.214.171.1242
UpTown Funk was recorded by British record producer, Mark Ronson, along with American singer/songwriter, Bruno Mars. It was released as a single on 10 November 2014.
It spent 14 consecutive weeks at Number 1 on the US Billboard 100, and also reached Number 1 in the charts in several other countries.
UpTown Funk became the second best-selling single of 2015. It won two Grammy Awards, including the record of the Year.
The music video was released a week after the single – 17 November 2014. It shows Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, and the Hooligans walking around cities, kitted out in brightly colored suits and chains. It was filmed in a range of cities where Bruno Mars was touring.
The video was almost as popular as the song, gathering more than 3 billion views to date.
5. Sorry - Justin Bieber (3 billion)
Total views : 2.974.502.774
It should surprise nobody that Justin Bieber has a video on YouTube’s Top 10. He is one of the most visible symbols of the YouTube generation. It is perhaps surprising that he cannot claim more of the videos in this top group, although he does have videos of his songs in positions 23 and 24.
Sorry comes from Justin Bieber’s fourth studio album, “Purpose.” It was released on October 23, 2015. The song topped the charts of 13 countries, including seven weeks in the top spot in Bieber's native Canada. Globally, people bought more than 10 million copies of the song in 2016.
Unusually, they made the dance video of the song in New Zealand, featuring New Zealand dancers – the ReQuest Dance Crew, and New Zealand choreographer, Parris Goebel. Although this was originally just intended to be a lyric video, it ended up as the main one. It became the fifth fastest YouTube video to reach 1 billion views, and the fourth fasted to reach 2 billion views.
6. Sugar - Maroon 5 (2.7 billion)
Total views : 2.700.759.958
Sugar was recorded by Maroon 5 for their fifth studio album, “V.” It was released as a single on January 13, 2015.
It peaked at Number 2 on the US Billboard 100.
The band worked with film director, David Dobkin on the music video. He had previously directed the movie “Wedding Crashers,” and used that as inspiration for this video.
In the video, Maroon 5 crashes weddings across Los Angeles. This is not staged. Maroon 5 has genuinely crashed the weddings shown in the video. In reality, each groom was given some notice and agreed to let an unnamed, but famous band play at their wedding, but nobody else connected with the marriages had advance notice. It must have been a shock to the brides to find Adam Levine serenading them at their weddings.
The production team worked with wedding planners in Los Angeles to find suitable weddings for the video.
The band found it a fantastic experience. They were nervous that they would take attention away from people’s big days. Some of the grooms got cold feet and had to be talked into allowing the activity take place.
Everybody loved the surprise, however. Adam Levine stated, "It was an out of body experience. I had no idea I would be affected by the overwhelming reactions we received from the couples and guests.”
7. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (2.6 billion)
Total views : 2.612.318.874
Taylor Swift recorded Shake it Off as the lead single for her fifth album, “1989”. The song premiered on a Yahoo! Live stream on August 18, 2014. The studio released the video on YouTube and made the song available for digital download on the same day.
Shake it Off is Taylor Swift’s most successful Billboard Hot 100 song to date. It stayed in the chart for 50 consecutive weeks.
Mark Romanek directed the video, and it features dances choreographed by Tyce Diorio. It incorporates dancing in the styles of hip-hop, lyrical, ballet, jazz, and cheerleader – even “twerking.”
If you exclude the cartoon character of Masha, this video holds the record for the most views of a video by a female artist.
8. Roar - Katy Perry (2.6 billion)
Total views : 2.586.502.583
Who hasn’t seen the Katy Perry video for Roar, with Katy in her jungle, populated with wild animals?
She released Roar as the lead single for her 2013 album, “Prism” The lyrics focus on standing up for yourself and self-empowerment. The song was a huge success. It was certified as Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making her the first artist to have three Diamond Awards.
The video tells a (fictional) story of Katy Perry adapting to life in the jungle after surviving a plane crash. She even tames a tiger. It was filmed at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
When Roar reached 1 billion video views on YouTube, in July 2015, Katy Perry became the first artist to have two music videos exceed that milestone.
9. Bailando - Enrique Iglesias (2.5 billion)
Total views : 2.546.814.590
Bailando is another music video that highlights the international appeal of YouTube.
Spanish singer, Enrique Iglesias, recorded Bailando for his tenth studio album, “Sex and Love” in 2014.
He recorded several versions of the song. The original Spanish version also included vocals by Cubans, Descemer Bueno, and Gente de Zona. A Spanglish version features vocals by Jamaican singer Sean Paul. Enrique Iglesias also recorded two versions in Portuguese (with different people doing the additional vocals) for different markets.
The original Spanish version acts as the theme song for the soap opera Reina de Corazones.
They recorded four music videos– one for each version of the song. They filmed the videos for the Spanish and Spanglish version of the song in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The Spanish version has proven particularly popular, having been viewed more than 2.5 billion times. People have also watched the Spanglish version 250 million times.
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