Views: 2.14 billion
The sets, background choreography, and cinematography here are all beautiful. But the true highlight? When singer-songwriter-slash-person-who-stands-on-fancy-chairs MØ bumps her noggin. D’oh!
“Katy Perry – Roar (Official)”
Views: 2.20 billion
“Roar” deserves major style points — it boasts lush colors; tells a quick story with a clear beginning, middle, and end; and incorporates deliciously cheesy special effects. Its one flaw: Katy reveals near the end that she’s had access to a phone the whole time. Makes you think.
“Maroon 5 – Sugar”
Views: 2.23 billion
Adam Levine and his henchmen (kinda) terrorize as many weddings in LA as they can. Because this is a band that insists on making us all say the same thing as the woman at 3:20.
“Enrique Iglesias – Bailando (Español) ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente De Zona”
Views: 2.29 billion
“Bailando” is great because it offers a few choice lessons: If you buy pants with a normal crotch, you won’t have to run weird. If you buy a lot of hats, you won’t have to wear the same one in every shot. And if you buy a soccer ball dance-off, you won’t have to make people sit through something that was otherwise forgettable.
“Taylor Swift – Shake It Off”
Views: 2.31 billion
Man, this goes down as smooth as a Gap ad.
“Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk”
Views: 2.60 billion
My favorite part is in the beginning, when Gray Suit Guy walks out of the pawn shop and finds Bruno Mars singing and doing a casual dance with his friends. At first, Gray Suit Guy is curious, like, Hey, you guys dancing? I like to dance.Actually, I LOVE TO DANCE. Maybe I’ll jump in here. But then Bruno Mars says, “Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent / Gotta kiss myself, I’m so pretty,” and Gray Suit Guy, who probably just exchanged his Chucks for that dumb pair of brown dress shoes at the pawn shop, is like, Are you kidding me? It’s a quick, subtle crisis, but a good one.
Overall, this isn’t the most exciting vid. Other notable moments include showcasing a car that the Flintstones would smoke in a drag race. Also, sitting. But — big but — it’s kind of impossible to make it through this entire thing without tapping your foot or bopping your head. At least once. We recommend chasing this with Alex Boye’s send-up, which comes with dancing grannies and a mobility scooter, if you bopped more than once.
“Justin Bieber – Sorry (PURPOSE : The Movement)”
Views: 2.71 billion
Props to the ladies of ReQuest and the Royal Family — these New Zealanders slay. No need for any Bieberflips here.
“PSY – GANGNAM STYLE(강남스타일) M/V”
Views: 2.92 billion
I’ve tried several times to write something coherent about this T-Pain-endorsed piece of art, this once viral king. It’s close to impossible. Instead, here’s a quick list of the batshit stuff you’ll see Psy do: He sunbathes, more or less, fully clothed. He dances for a bunch of horses. He makes two women walk with him through a garbage tornado. He rests his head on the shoulder of Sauna Man. He maybe makes two people explode? He rides a carousel, while dancing. He crashes a yoga class.
Why did this cheesy descent into madness, directed by Cho Soo-hyun, become so popular? Maybe it has something to do with one of the things listed above. Or maybe it’s because, as The Atlantic and countless others have dutifully pointed out over the years, “Gangnam Style” is a carefully crafted satire of South Korea’s 1%. The song, and the visuals above, call out the country — specifically, Seoul’s posh Gangnam District — for its unhealthy materialism. It’s a smart, potent message, one not just applicable to South Korea.
Maybe that’s why, for almost five years, “Gangnam Style” reigned as YouTube’s most viewed video after busting the site’s play counter. As more recent selects on this list — Fonsi and T-Swift, we’re looking at you — have shown, it’s possible for newer hits to rack up billions of views in quicker fashion. But there’s something about 2012’s “Gangnam Style” that won’t die. When I first started writing this post in September 2016, the video had 2.64 billion views. (Only, like, three of the views since then have been mine.) Now it’s verging on 3 billion.
OK, OK — you didn’t come here for an outdated lecture. Back to the list: “Gangnam Style” also shows Psy getting his hair dried via pelvic thrust in an elevator. He does push-ups underneath Hyuna, who doesn’t seem to mind and who did a duet version of this with him later. He dresses up as a chic Nigel Thornberry. He has a dance-off with someone — who may or may not be Lauren Lapkus disguised as a pimp version of Todd from Characters — dressed in all yellow. He arrives at a rave several hours too early. He’s shown dancing with the coolest kid ever, ruining someone’s bath, and dropping a deuce. And he turns into a tiny cartoon man. It’s all mostly insane and a little bit beautiful.
“Wiz Khalifa – See You Again ft. Charlie Puth [Official Video] Furious 7 Soundtrack”
Views: 3.01 billion
This Paul Walker tribute, which briefly held the top spot, features an appropriate number of cars, nostalgic Brian O’Conner snippets, and shots of Drake Bell and Andy Samberg’s long-lost love child playing piano outdoors. It is touching as hell. Have the tissue box handy, and consider dropping everything you have planned today so you can rewatch Brick Mansions and the entire Fast franchise as a proper show of respect. If you aren’t choking up by the time Charlie Puth sings, “Let the light guide your way,” while Paul, laughing and holding a beer, flashes across the screen, you are Miranda Priestly. You do not deserve this.
“Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee”
Views: 3.10 billion
Upon its January arrival, Fonsi’s dance-inducing song quickly began breaking Vevo records, with Billboard pointing to the increasing popularity of streaming, especially in Latin America, as a major eyeball driver. It was simply bound to be king. In less than seven months, “Despacito” did what that old viral titan “Gangnam Style” still hasn’t: It broke the 3 billion mark — showing off chill waves, colorful buildings, and the insane fact that Daddy Yankee stopped aging after “Gasolina” to boot.