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, until recently, had been the majority of the most-viewed videos in YouTube’s history. Music videos still account for a substantial portion of the top 10 most-viewed videos, however. 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.
Baby Shark Dance is the most-viewed video ever on YouTube. The children’s song overtook the all-Spanish version of Despacito in November 2020.
- Pinkfong — Baby Shark Dance (11.04 billion views)
- Luis Fonsi — Despacito featuring Daddy Yankee (7.93 billion views)
- LooLoo Kids — Johny Johny Yes Papa (6.40 billion views)
- Ed Sheeran — Shape of You (5.77 billion views)
- Wiz Khalifa — See You Again featuring Charlie Puth (5.59 billion views)
- Cocomelon Nursery Rhymes — Bath Song (5.54 billion views)
- ChuChu TV — Phonics Song with Two Words (4.76 billion views)
- Mark Ronson — Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars (4.64 billion views)
- Miroshka TV — Learning Colors Multi-Colored Eggs on the Farm (4.60 billion views)
- Masha and the Bear — Recipe for Disaster (4.50 billion views)
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 video on this list that isn’t a song (or features one song heavily) 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 on Netflix in a collective episode format.
The Recipe for Disaster episode is of particular interest due to its astronomical view count.
Get Movies, the channel that uploaded Recipe for Disaster, earned loads of viewers just from this one specific episode.
Educational videos being among the most-viewed content on YouTube 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 4 billion views in the four 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.
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 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 billions of views. Uptown Funk still manages to eclipse those achievements.
It’s a pretty straightforward educational children’s literacy video. Phonics Song with Two Words features a simple tune that goes through the entire alphabet, going over pairs of words that use each of the letters in the English alphabet. The video even provides illustrations of these words and explains how to pronounce the sounds of each letter in their respective example words.
This video has been around since March 6, 2014, and has racked up over 4 billion views.
Slowly but surely, educational videos for children are taking over the top 10 most-viewed YouTube videos of all time. In fact, Cocomelon’s Bath Song is now No. 6 on our list, as other videos like Gangnam Style have been knocked out of the top 10 completely– which is weird when you think about it. It’s just a simple song about bath time that’s less than three minutes long and has a Baby Shark Dance-esque chorus. And yet, it managed to snag its spot on this list, speeding far ahead of a video from an internationally famous singer.
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 has managed over 5 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 the most-viewed video on YouTube, dethroning Gangnam Style. That reign was only temporary, as it was later 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.
4. Ed Sheeran — Shape of You (5.77 billion views)
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’s No. 4 on this list, has over 5 billion views, and was the second video to nab 4 billion views.
Shape of You debuted in January 2017.
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 more than 6 billion times.
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, 6 billion, and now 7 billion views.
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 number one video on this list and has inspired countless variations found across YouTube.
Let’s be honest: Baby Shark Dance‘s success isn’t really all that surprising. 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 reign as the most-viewed video to continue.
Do you want to watch these videos without an internet connection? Read our guide on how to download YouTube videos.