MTV’s steady and somewhat sad transformation into a channel more widely know for reality TV programming than for music seemingly signaled the end of the music video era. But in February of 2005, YouTube came along and completely changed the game. Not only did YouTube’s massive popularity help bring the visual art form known as the music video back to life, the site quickly became an extremely popular destination for people to listen to music.
By 2015, YouTube had emerged as the unassuming king of music streaming, besting out industry heavyweights like Pandora and Spotify by a wide margin. In fact, during the first half of 2015, an estimated 57% of all 135.2 billion music streams were reportedly served by YouTube.
All that being said, if you take a look at the top 10 most-watched YouTube videos of all-time, you probably shouldn’t be too surprised that they’re all music videos. And speaking to YouTube’s popularity and nearly global reach (it’s still blocked in China), the number of views on this top 10 list have all surpassed the 1 billion threshold.
Psy- “Gangnam Style” – 2.49 billion views
Originally released on July 15, 2012, “Gangnam Style” quickly became a cultural and global phenomenon, anchored by an arguably catchy tune and a ridiculously bizarre, delightful, and visually engaging K-pop video. And oh yes, did we mention it came with its own dance? Thankfully, the dance has since gone the way of the dodo, but “Gangnam Style” still holds the record for being the fastest song to ever accumulate 1 billion YouTube views, having achieved the feat in only 160 days.
But Psy might want to watch is back as Adele’s song “Hello” has already amassed nearly 950 million views since hitting YouTube in October.
Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” – 1.39 billion views
Ah, good ole Taylor Swift. Say what you will about Swift, but she sure knows how to churn out hit single after hit single. Her video for “Blank Space” hit YouTube on November 10, 2014 and became an immediate hit, mirroring the song’s commercial success on the billboard charts. The song famously covers Swift’s string of ex-boyfriends, with the twist being that Swift, in the song, purposefully takes on an exaggerated version of her media persona.
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again” – 1.33 billion views
Part of the Furious 7 soundtrack, this song was famously written for and dedicated to actor Paul Walker. Walker, if you recall, tragically died in a car accident in late 2013.
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” – 1.28 billion views
Just barely a year old, Uptown Funk almost has 1.3 million views, which perhaps isn’t too surprising given its catchy tune. The song was nominated for two Grammys.
Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris – “Baby” – 1.27 billion views
Teenage girls love YouTube, apparently. Nearly six years after this video dropped, Justin Bieber, somewhat surprisingly, is an even bigger star today than he was back then. You know what I mean.
Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off” – 1.26 billion views
A fun and catchy jingle, this song was everywhere during the summer of 2014.
Katie Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse” – 1.243 billion views
A kooky and visually stunning video, “Dark Horse” was a genre crossing hit that received heavy radio play and quickly racked up the YouTube views. As catch as the song is, it also boasts one of the stranger lyrics you’ll hear in any song, with Juicy J rapping: “She’s a beast, I call her Karma, she eat your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer.”
Enrique Iglesias ft. Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona – “Bailando” – 1.24 billion views
Catchy, catchy, catchy.
Katy Perry – “Roar” – 1.21 billion views
Katy Perry strikes again with “Roar”, which debuted on YouTube on September 5, 2013. A decent song, this was way overplayed in sports montages a few years back.
Meghan Trainor – “All About That Bass” – 1.2 billion views
The unofficial summer song of 2014, Meghan Trainor released this song when she was just 20 years old. And for any pop aficionados out there, here’s a bit of interesting trivia for ya; Trainor co-wrote the song with Kevin Kadish, the man behind Stacie Orrico’s pop hit “There’s Gotta Be More To Life.” How’s that for a random throwback?