Did you know that every minute 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube?
How, then, did some videos on YouTube manage to gather such an incredible number of views? That is our topic for today: the 10 most watched videos on YouTube of all time, how they got there and whether or not they should be on the list.
Having your video make the list, i.e. go viral, is largely a matter of popularity combined with sustained marketing efforts – at this point it”s important to remark that the professional marketing industry has taken note of virality and is trying to fashion a science of virality, through the sustained efforts of several researchers and speakers such as Prof. Jonah Berger, a Marketing researcher from the University of Pennsylvania. According to Berger, content that goes viral should fulfill the following five qualities: it should be surprising, interesting (duh…), intense, as well as positive and practically useful.
Do the ten most watched videos on YouTube of all time meet those criteria? You be the judge. Also, bear in mind that the competition for a spot in this chart is fierce. Wikipedia”s own list, for instance, also mentions the attempts at tampering with YouTube”s counts, which some dabbled in, either for the sheer appeal of popularity, or for more subversive marketing reasons. This “black list” includes pop singer Avril Lavigne, as well as the corporate accounts of Universal and Sony Music, which were stripped of over 2 billion views by YouTube, following accusations of having used unethical SEO tactics.
1. PSY – GANGNAM STYLE: 1,771,177,301 views
PSY needs no introduction and just about everyone can admit that having performed his dance routine at least once. Gangnam Style has become a worldwide phenomenon and PSY is recognized as that chubby guy who can dance. The song Gangnam Style is a hilariously funny parody about rich people living in a district from Seoul called Gangnam. The artist earns $ 0.02 whenever his song is played off a streaming device in South Korea, which, more specifically, means that he”s made about $61,000 dollars by now. And he”s surely making plenty more money from the video: it has been estimated that views of the video, combined with visits to PSY”s account page have earned him some $894,000 in profit from commercials alone. PSY, a.k.a. Park Jae-sang, is part of a family that owns 30% of Mr. Corp., a South Korean company that produces items for computer chips. The selling price of the Mr. Corp shares has doubled with the release of the song.
2. Justin Bieber – Baby ft. Ludacris: 897,446,738 views
Who would have thought that the Bieber – Ludacris duet would be such a hit? “Baby” is number two in our top with 897,446,738 views. The song is one of the tracks off the My World 2.0 album and was released on January 18, 2010. This single has been , which means it went platinum 12 times, making it the most purchased song in the history of American music. JayBee was the uncrowned king of YouTube views, until PSY stole the show, passed the billion view mark and turned Gangnam Style into a hit. Even so, Biebs has plenty more reasons to celebrate, as he is the first ever singer to have produced five consecutive No.1 albums by the age of 19 on the Billboard charts. The fifth one in the string of successes was released little under a month before his 19th birthday and knocked out Miley Cyrus”s previously held record of 4 chart-topping LPs before the age of 19.
3. Jennifer Lopez – On the Floor ft. Pitbull: 691,240,877 views
On The Floor is a music video produced for J.Lo by RedOne and directed by TAJ Stansberry. The video has seen its fair share of controversy and media coverage, as J.Lo was accused of copying Kat DeLuna”s video. Although DeLuna made no snide comments regarding J.Lo, sources within the industry say the two Latina pop singers had previously been at odds, when, in 2007, Lopez had asked her label to withdraw a song from one of DeLuna”s albums, so she could record it for her own LP. The video had a simultaneous premiere on Vevo as well as during one American Idol episode in 2011. Lopez was a jury for that season of the competition, in a concerted attempt to regain her title of Queen of Dance Floors. During that night”s show, fans were able to vote for their favorite ending for the video out of three versions – according to Lopez, the idea was to allow the fans to experience her life as directly as possible. The video is heavily laden with product placement, exclusively of luxury brands such as BMW, Swarowski crystals, and Crown Royal whiskey.
4. Eminem – Love The Way You Lie ft. Rihanna: 596,233,984 views
Everything that Eminem performs becomes a hit and his collaboration with Rihanna was bound to be successful – no wonder it”s one of the most watched YouTube videos of all time. Love the Way You Lie was included on the Eminem’s album Recovery and was released on June 8th 2010. In an interview for MTV, Eminem stated that he wouldn’t have imagined anyone else singing this song other than Rihanna and that both her and Pink (another artist singing on Recovery) are very talented. The story of the video is based in large part on Eminem’s problems with Kim in the past and generally focuses on domestic violence. The video is directed by Joseph Kahn, who actually postponed working on a feature-length film in order to do this video. In the director”s own words, the theme of the song was that important for him. The video also features the beautiful Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan (Lost, FlashForward, etc). The video has seen its share of abrupt criticism, with one critic from NPR calling it “sickening” and AOL listing it at number 5 on its list of the 10 Most Controversial Pop Videos Ever.
5. LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock: 569,561,714 views
Party Rock Anthem was released as the first single from LMFAO’s second album, Sorry for Party Rocking, in 2011. The single reached the number one position in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States and top five in Norway and Italy. Worldwide, it was the third best-selling digital single of 2011 with sales of 9.7 million copies and the third best-selling digital song in US history. Featured in the film 21 Jump Street, the song won the 2011 MTV Movie Award for Best Music. The song also won Favorite Song at the 2012 Kids” Choice Awards. The video is a parody of popular 2002 horror flick 28 Days Later and, much like Gangnam Style, it also features a dance that went viral – the Melbourne Shuffle, a style which originated from Australia”s “80s dance and rave scenes.
6. Charlie bit my finger – again! 557,659,107 views
Charlie bit my finger is the only non-musical video on our list of the most watched YouTube videos of all times and something we recommend you watch whenever you’re feeling down. The two British boys in the video are simply hilarious. On the one side we have baby Charlie who like to bite fingers and laugh about it, and his brother who is always the victim. How he cries and laughs at the same time because Charlie bit his finger is simply precious. The video was uploaded to YouTube by the kids” father in 2007 and was filmed when Charlie was one year old, while Harry was three. According to the dad, he simply shot the video as a way of documenting the kids growing up and only realized how funny it was a few weeks later, when he watched it on his computer. He then uploaded it onto YouTube because he wanted the kids” godfather to watch it, but the file size wouldn”t allow him to send it as an email attachment. Following the video”s popularity boom, he decided to upload a video of the kids every six weeks, including their younger brother Jasper. Aside from the video series, the kids are featured on a personal blog, as well as on merchandise. The dad says he is adamant about keeping their private details out of the videos and does not plan to upload videos of them as they become older. At one point (in October 2009), the video actually became the most watched one on the website.
7. Shakira – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa): 552,199,772 views
The official song of the FIFA World Cup 2010 was launched on May 7th 2010, but the song remains a hit even 3 year later, with a staggering 552,199,772 views. The song Waka Waka (This Time For Africa), a unique collaboration between Shakira and Freshlyground, a popular South African band, was chosen as the official anthem of FIFA World Cup 2010, which took place in South Africa. Shakira and Freshlyground performed the song at the closing of the competition on July 11th in Johannesburg. Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) manages to combine the energy of the most important sporting event in the world with the unique spirit of South Africa and the unmistakable style of Shakira. The video is also available in 3D and is the first ever 3D video produced by Sony. It features some of the best and most famous soccer players of all time: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Denilson, Pelé, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, and Roberto Baggio.
8. PSY – GENTLEMAN M/V: 545,399,425 views
Gentleman proved that PSY is here to stay and that Gangnam Style was not his only hit. And he is right, since he is present in the top ten most viewed clips on YouTube with two songs, an honor which also earned him the title of K-pop”s first breakthrough artist into the Western music industry. PSY released the new song on April 2013 and he said that the week of the release was “the worst time ever”, since he was nervous about people’s reactions. He also admitted to changing the song many times until he finally got what he wanted. The video has earned the Guinness World Record for the most watched video online within only 24 hours, thus surpassing KONY 2012. The choreography featured in the video was conceived of with the input of Lee Joo Sun, the same choreographer that had previously worked with PSY on Gangnam Style. It is the so-called “arrogant dance”, featured in the video of Abracadabra by Korean band Brown Eyed Girls.
9. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance: 533,790,597 views
During a single year, Lady Gaga morphed from a struggling singer on the music scene in New York, into the most famous pop figure of the new decade. Two acclaimed albums, live performances prepared thoroughly, and more than just eccentric stage outfits, but even shocking, political and sexual thoughts expressed without any hesitation, all part of the global phenomenon that carries a recipe inspired by a song from Queen, Radio Ga Ga. Bad Romance managed to accumulate 533,790,597 views since its release, showing that Gaga will never fail to surprise us. The video was directed by Francis Lawrence, who has also worked with Jay-z, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and many others. The video was nominated for 10 MTV Video Music Awards and won 7 of them, including Video of the Year, and also won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. Billboard readers voted it the best video of the 2000s, surpassing Britney Spear”s Toxic by a small margin. Some of the dance and setting elements in the video have prompted critics to compare it to Michael Jackson”s seminal Thriller video.
10. Michel Telo – Ai Se Eu Te Pego – Oficial (Assim voce me mata): 524,298,811 views
Michel Telo began singing at six and played the accordion at 10, then entered the band Grupo tradição, with which he performed for 11 years. In 2008, Michel decided to continue his career on his own and the great success came in 2011 when he included a cover of a song written by another Brazilian act, Ai Si Eu Te Pego in his repertoire. In 2012 in Brazil alone Michel amassed over 17 million viewers for 220 performances, which earned him over $ 18 million, plus countless fans. Telo has also released an English version of the song, titled Oh, If I Catch You! Since its launch, the song has been covered in Russian, Polish, Japanese, Uzbek, Dutch, Greek, Latvian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and many other languages.
Do you think these videos deserve the views that they received?