Throughout the years, YouTube has hosted some of the best videos on the Internet. From Charlie biting his brother’s finger, to an invisible horse dance, to a Latin song uniting the world; these have all contributed to the evolution of YouTube as a platform. Read this resource to see the top 10 videos with the most views on YouTube, and how they attained worldwide fame.
YouTube videos with most views: Despacito
“Despacito” (“Slowly,” in English) is by far the most viewed YouTube video. This Latin record-breaker is a song by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee. The music video was uploaded to YouTube on January 12, 2017; and it hasn’t stopped breaking records since then.
“Despacito” is a reggaeton and Latin pop song with lyrics revolving around an erotic relationship, with a very smooth performance. Upon release, the song received positive reviews from music critics and speedily rose the music charts. The remix version, featuring Justin Bieber, was released on April 17, 2017 and helped improve the song’s chart performance in English-speaking countries, it could be considered influencer marketing.
“Despacito” surpassed the music video for “See You Again” from Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa to take the throne as the most viewed video on YouTube on August 4, 2017, and broke a lot of other records on the way:
- Fastest YouTube video to reach 2 billion views (154 days)
- Second-fastest YouTube video to reach 1 billion views (96 days)
- First YouTube video to reach 3, 4, and 5 billion views
- Most viewed YouTube video with over 5.1 billion views
Unlike PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” which reigned as the most viewed video on YouTube for five years, “See You Again” managed to hold the crown for only three weeks. It took an impressive seven months for “Despacito” to become the number-one YouTube video, and it looks like things aren’t going to change for the foreseeable future.
YouTube videos with the most views: See You Again
Originating on the soundtrack from the movie Furious 7, “See You Again” is the second-most viewed video on YouTube. The song was created by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth as a tribute to the late Paul Walker. “See You Again” was the most viewed video on YouTube from July 10 to August 4, 2017. Today, it stands as the second-most viewed video with over 3.5 billion views.
“See You Again” is a hip-hop and pop-rap ballad written by DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, and Andrew Cedar. The music video was uploaded on YouTube on April 6, 2015. Apart from being the second-most viewed video on YouTube, “See You Again” achieved other impressive feats:
- Most-liked YouTube video from August 28, 2016, to July 25, 2017
- The second ever video to record two billion and three billion views
- The second video to reach 10 million likes
- The second-most-viewed and liked video with over 3.5 billion views and 19.9 million likes
The song spent 12 weeks at the top of the US Billboard 100, and holds the record for the most streamed track in a day on Spotify in the US. “See You Again” was the best-selling song in the world in 2015, and is to date the most successful track for both Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. The overwhelming number of likes this video received shows that likes are an integral aspect of YouTube marketing.
YouTube videos with the most views: Shape of You
2017 was massively successful for Ed Sheeran. Apart from performing a cameo role in a “Game of Thrones” episode, Ed Sheeran had major success with his latest album. “Shape of You” was written as the last song for Ed’s award-winning, third album “Divide.” The song is today the third-most viewed video on YouTube.
Ed Sheeran released “Shape of You” as a digital download on January 5, 2017. Ed also released an official lyrics video on his YouTube channel, which has an addition 770 million views. The official music video for the song was uploaded on January 30, 2017. The music video starred American dancer and model Jennie Pegouskie.
On May 8, 2017, exactly 97 days after its release, “Shape of You” became one of the fastest music videos to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. Apart from that, “Shape of You” achieved other noteworthy YouTube milestones:
- Third-most viewed YouTube video with over 3.4 billion views
- Second-fastest video to reach 2 billion views on YouTube (187 days)
- Third-fastest video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube (97 days)
- Third video to reach 3 billion views
The success of “Shape of You” is no fluke. Ed’s marketing team expertly promoted the song by posting a six-second teaser of it on social media. In addition, Sheeran allowed hype to be built prior to releasing his official video; which arrived on YouTube at an optimal time, after having laid the groundwork with the lyrics video. It is clear that the success of “Shape of You” is a result of impeccable content and marketing efforts.
YouTube videos with the most views: Gangnam Style
“Gangnam Style” is the famous mega-hit that caught everyone by surprise on YouTube. The catchy tune by the South Korean Psy went viral in August 2012 and influenced YouTube like no song before. The song, accompanied by Psy’s amusing dance moves, will forever be remembered as the first music video to reach one billion views on YouTube.
“Gangnam Style” was uploaded on YouTube on July 15, 2012, and it wasn’t long until the video went viral. On November 24, 2012 “Gangnam Style” overtook Justin Bieber’s record of 803,700,000 views to claim the number one spot as the most viewed video on YouTube, and it stayed on top for an incredible 1,689 days. “Gangnam Style” reached other impressive milestones:
- The first video to reach 1 and 2 billion views
- Third video to reach 3 billion views
- Most viewed YouTube video from November 24, 2012, to July 2017
The video literally changed how YouTube works after it almost exceeded YouTube’s view limit and forced YouTube to update its system and change from 32-integer to 64-integer; raising the bar from 2,147,483,647 to 9 quintillion (Yes… quintillion).
YouTube video with the most views: Masha and the Bear: Recipe for Disaster
This has to be the most unusual and unexpected video on this list. The cartoon “Маша и Медведь” (Masha and The Bear) is a Russian animated TV series based on a children’s folk story. All of the series episodes have been uploaded on YouTube over time, and some of them have exceeded 1 billion views.
This particular episode, “Recipe For Disaster,” was uploaded on YouTube on January 31, 2012, and somehow managed to garner over 3 billion views. Given that Russia’s population is 144 million, this fact is impressive. How impressive? Just let the math do the speaking:
- 24 million of those 144 million people are children under the age of 14 in Russia
- 3 billion views divided amongst those 24 million children translates to 125 views for each child in Russia
Given that this video was uploaded nearly 6 years ago, and many of the children who are now 14 or over could have watched it at a younger age, and there could be children outside of Russia watching, those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, these numbers are impressive. Additionally, this video is the only one of YouTube’s 10 most viewed videos list that isn’t a music video, which makes it all the more peculiar.
Music videos are dominating on YouTube
Apart from “Masha and the Bear,” which is the biggest surprise, the rest of YouTube’s most viewed videos are music videos:
- Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk – 3.04 billion views
- Justin Bieber – Sorry 2.9 billion views
- Maroon 5 – Sugar – 2.57 billion views
- Taylor Swift – Shake It Off – 2.55 billion views
- Enrique Iglesias – Bailando – 2.5 billion views
Justin Bieber is the only artist to have 5 videos exceeding one billion views, while Katy Perry has 4. Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Ed Sheeran are the only artists to have 2 videos exceeding 2 billion views on YouTube. Additionally, “Closer” from the Chainsmokers, is YouTube’s most viewed lyrics video with over 2.08 billion views.
Only 1 of YouTube’s top 10 most viewed videos is not a music video, and only 6 videos in YouTube’s top 100 are not music videos. This only proves that music videos are a force to be reckoned with on YouTube, and that YouTube is the MTV of this generation.
How these videos achieved astonishing YouTube success
It may not be plainly obvious, but it took some meticulously thought out planning for these videos to achieve such remarkable feats on the platform. Efforts in both marketing and content planning have played a crucial role in the success of each of these videos:
- Ed Sheeran promoted “Shape of You” with a teaser video and built hype for the song prior to releasing the official music video. This is an important strategy that many of the top YouTubers use to grow.
- “See You Again” was created with the intention of honouring the late Paul Walker. This created a viral sensation around the song and it was one of the reasons why the song exploded and became the most viewed video at one point.
- “Despacito” originally had the “Puerto Rico” verse at the beginning. They later decided to move it to the back as they wanted the song to approach people on a more general note. In addition, the remix with Justin Bieber was intended to target English-speaking countries in order to expand the reach of the song. This was a clear influencer marketing tactic.
- Psy benefited greatly from social media influencers, particularly on Twitter where some of the biggest stars in the world tweeted out his song to their massive audiences.
Help, I'm in a gangnam style k hole: http://t.co/KboJd2OO
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) August 21, 2012
Success is no coincidence. This is what we can learn from the most viewed videos on YouTube, and what every aspiring YouTuber should take note of. Going viral is indeed possible, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort, quality content, timing, marketing, and luck. If you’re trying to increase your views, use a little bit of extra luck and considering reading reviews of the best YouTube view providers in the industry. One little bump could be all you need to skyrocket your best video.