Entertainment

The most-viewed YouTube videos of all time

YouTube is a vital part of how music, videos, and news are distributed across the internet. An unimaginable number of videos is added to the site every day. Some estimates put the upload rate at almost 500 hours per minute.

While you could spend a lifetime trying to comb through everything there is on YouTube, a few videos have risen far above the rest and scored some astronomical view counts. Here are the five most viewed YouTube videos of all time (as of September 2019).

5. "Uptown Funk“ – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

3.66 billion views

The oldest video in the top five, “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, was posted to YouTube in November of 2014 and stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks. The video’s popularity was bolstered by Bruno Mars’ 2014 Super Bowl appearance, but still gets a strong number of views, keeping it in the top five.

4. “Masha and the Bear – Recipe for Disaster”

4.13 billion views

The only video in the top five that is not a music video is this episode of “Masha and the Bear,” a Russian language children’s show. “Masha and the Bear” is very popular both inside and outside of Russia. The high view count is due to a few particularities regarding the video, such as:

  • A simple distribution inconsistency, as this is the episode not on the official YouTube Masha channel.
  • The main character is wearing a headscarf, making the show more acceptable to Muslim audiences.
  • Children’s videos tend to overperform on YouTube, a result of young people replaying videos.

3. “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth

4.24 billion views

This Wiz Khalifa track has two factors that helped push it to the top of this list. First, it is the only song that was released as a movie tie-in. It was released ahead of the seventh installment of the “Fast and Furious” film series, one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time and features footage from the movie intercut with Wiz Khalifa performing the track. Second, it served as a memorial to the lead actor of the series, Paul Walker, who died while the movie was in post-production.

The track was so popular when it first came out that it was the first video to unseat “Gangnam Style” as the most watched video on YouTube. Despite its rise to the top of the list, it remained there for a little less than a month.

2. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran

4.41 billion views

While the odd music video, where Ed Sheeran trains as a boxer before showing down with a sumo wrestler, may be a little off-putting, the infectious tune behind it catapulted this track to number two. While it may have only a slim lead over “See You Again,” Sheeran managed to rack up these numbers in a much shorter time frame than Wiz Khalifa did.

In addition, an alternate lyric version of the same video has about 800 million views. If you add the two together, “Shape of You” is in a comfortable second place.

1. “Despacito” – Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee

6.45 billion views

While Ed Sheeran may have some bonus views, he still comes nowhere close to “Despacito.” Luis Fonsi’s almost entirely Spanish language track has a commanding lead as the only video to crack the 6-billion-view mark – or the 5-billion-view mark, for that matter.

The song was released in 2017 to worldwide popularity. It was at the top of the charts in 47 different countries, including the US, where it became the first Spanish-language single to top the Billboard Hot 100 in more than 20 years. There is also a version in which Justin Bieber sings some of the verses in English, helping the song’s initial popularity.

Cover image credit: 4kodiak/ iStock