Last Updated: September 9, 2021
You spend most of your time on YouTube, instead of being productive.
I’m not judging you! It’s an unending stream of content — every minute, 500 hours of video footage are uploaded!
That’s a lot of cat videos.
You might be curious what draws viewers in the most. I know I was, so I created this list of 15 most-watched YouTube videos.
You’ve probably guessed a few (you can’t escape “Despacito”), but there are more than a couple of surprises as well.
Check it out!
Incredible YouTube Stats
In this dizzying era of information, viral hits suddenly appear and fade away like shooting stars.
So, what are the most-watched YouTube videos currently?
First, let’s go through some compelling YouTube stats together as a fun little appetizer of what’s to come:
- The top four content categories watched by users globally are comedy, music, entertainment/pop culture, and how-to.
- Most often, males watch videos from the following five categories – soccer, strategy games, Xbox, basketball, and shooter games.
- Females favor five categories – makeup, skin and nail care, weight loss, East Asian and pop music.
- 86% of millennial dads rely on educational videos on YouTube as a convenient guide for parenting.
- 94% of American young adults (18—24 years old) use YouTube regularly.
Some of these stats will make perfect sense as you venture down the list. And at the end, you can find the one clip to rule them all — the most viewed YouTube video.
Let’s dive in!
15. Katy Perry — Roar
Number of views: 3.41 billion
Perry’s 2013 pop anthem “Roar” is still going strong. In February 2020, it made history: it became the first female-led video to reach 3 billion views. No wonder it’s one of the most popular YouTube music videos.
The action-packed clip starts with a plane crash right in the middle of a jungle. Perry and her boyfriend deal with the hostile environment the best they can until a tiger shows up. The unlucky boyfriend becomes tiger food, and Perry continues her adventures solo. Now that’s a messy breakup!
The clip culminates as a cheesy self-growth and female empowerment metaphor, with Perry using her stiletto heel as a spear and taming the tiger by roaring at it.
14. Justin Bieber — Sorry
Number of views: 3.46 billion
Bieber’s 2015 tropical pop/house piece is just a bit ahead. This YouTube dance music video is simple but catchy: an explosion of neon colors packed with powerful moves. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t even feature the pop star. The talented ReQuest Dance Crew and the Royal Family Dance Crew are in the spotlight.
All in all, it’s a certified summer hit that nostalgic viewers keep returning to.
13. Maroon 5 — Sugar
Number of views: 3.53 billion
Moving on in a (disappointingly) non-alien direction, next on the list is the 2014 coffee-shop radio hit “Sugar” by Maroon 5. The band’s showstopping YouTube clip had viewers guessing whether it’s real or staged.
Just like in the rom-com Wedding Crashers, Maroon 5 has crashed five weddings in Los Angeles for their clip. This risky idea paid off, as you can clearly see the brides and grooms having the time of their life.
No weddings were hurt during the making of the video.
12. El Chombo — Dame Tu Cosita feat. Cutty Ranks
Number of views: 3.56 billion
And now, ladies and gents: dancing aliens! It’s one of those internet things you’d have a hard time explaining to your parents. Still, it’s one of the most watched YouTube videos today.
This 2018 cinematic masterpiece is actually a remix of the 1997 original release. It gained notoriety after a series of lip-syncing challenges on Musical.ly. People all around the world were attempting to dance like the little green guy.
11. Phonics Song with TWO Words — A For Apple — ABC
Number of views: 4.11 billion
You probably weren’t expecting an ABC song.
But here’s the deal – there are many more similar video clips with billions of YouTube views. They are all slightly creepy, surreal animated nursery rhymes that will haunt your thoughts for days. Kids, however, love that stuff.
You can guess what this clip is about: it’s supposed to teach its little viewers the alphabet, with cute examples for every letter.
10. PSY — Gangnam Style
Number of views: 4.16 billion
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? You can’t have a list of the most popular YouTube videos without mentioning Gangnam Style! The 2012 mega-hit gave a new meaning to “viral”. It became the first video in the history of YouTube to reach one billion views.
Even now, it’s a pop-culture force to be reckoned with.
9. Mark Ronson — Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars
Number of views: 4.27 billion
Another popular YouTube musical giant is the 2014 funky collab between Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. The retro-styled video closely follows the song’s 80’s boogie-funk sound, with Ronson, Mars, and the backing band dancing and prancing down the street. At one point, they’re even getting their hair done, perm-style. Truth be told, Mars is doing most of the moves, while Ronson focuses on nodding his head to the beat.
Although it’s not the most original concept (dancing in the street, really?), it’s deemed one of the best music videos of all time. The clip received the award for Best Male Video at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
8. Masha and the Bear – Recipe for Disaster
Number of views: 4.45 billion
This particular episode of Masha and the Bear has the most YouTube views. The Russian animated TV series has children all around the world glued to their screens. It follows the various (mis)adventures of the mischievous Masha and her bear caretaker.
“Recipe for disaster” is no different: the bear is trying to play checkers while Masha accidentally makes so much porridge that she floods the kitchen with it.
I cook pasta in much the same manner, so I won’t judge.
7. Learning Colors – Colorful Eggs on a Farm
Number of views: 4.47 billion
Yes, this fever dream is also among the most viewed video clips. It’s something only three-year-olds and David Lynch would watch.
The title says it all, and yet nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.
Set to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” six grinning animated eggs jump around, break (a lot!), and get cut in half. Then they turn into a giant destructive supreme overlord egg.
In the end, I did learn the names of the colors in Russian, so I can’t really complain.
6. Bath Song — CoComelon Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs
Number of views: 4.47 billion
Yep, that’s three kids-oriented videos on YouTube in a row. Definitely a pattern here.
Nursery rhyme clips are a big hit among toddlers and their parents. So, there’s been a noticeable influx of such content on YouTube. That, in turn, provided an easy opportunity for advertisers and content creators.
Things take a decidedly weird turn with channels that only post fully automated infinite iterations of the same popular kids’ videos, boosted with a hefty dose of keywords and hashtags.
Anyway, this 3D animated YouTube clip is about the joys of bathing and getting clean. As in the previous animations, the models are a bit uncanny. The song is maddeningly catchy — and a near-perfect copy of the “Baby Shark Dance” melody.
Sorry for the earworm, guys.
5. Wiz Khalifa — See You Again ft. Charlie Puth
Number of views: 5.23 billion
The simple and somber music video was the most viewed YouTube video for a short time (from July 10 to August 4, 2017). The song is part of the Furious 7 (2015) soundtrack, a tribute to Paul Walker.
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth (ft. a lot of cars) let emotions run wild in the accompanying clip. It ends on a bitter-sweet note, with the words “For Paul” appearing and then fading away.
Fans still visit and pay tribute to the deceased actor in the comments section.
4. Ed Sheeran — Shape of You
Number of views: 5.43 billion
This isn’t your typical sad strummy guitar Sheeran track. It’s an upbeat tropical-house tune about the more physical side of love. The music video perfectly reflects that.
Sheeran and US dancer and model Jennie Pegouskie train together, get something to eat, kiss in a taxi, and fight a 584lb sumo wrestler — you know, romance stuff.
3. Johny Johny Yes Papa — LooLoo Kids
Number of views: 5.65 billion
Sorry, Ed Sheeran, this nursery rhyme that turned into a 2018 meme has more YouTube views than your music video.
Set to the sound of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” Johny repeatedly tries to eat sugar behind his papa’s back, only to get caught.
In the end, Johny gets the last laugh. He manages to sneak a whole bunch of sugar cubes right under his snoring father’s nose.
Yeah, it makes no sense.
2. Luis Fonsi — Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
Number of views: 7.50 billion
Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve actually felt bone-deep relief when I saw “Despacito” this high on the ranking of most watched YouTube videos? At this point, I’d take it over any other unsettling kids’ song.
The 2017 clip for this Latin pop colossus became the first video in history to reach seven billion views on YouTube.
The video is all about having a good time. It’s a snapshot of the vibrant La Perla neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The 2006 Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera also shows up in the video.
1. Baby Shark Dance
Number of views: 9.21 billion
With a whopping 9.2 billion views, the “Baby Shark Dance” is the most-viewed YouTube video! It features real kids, for starters — not weirdly soulless 3D animation.
Why is it that popular, though?
The earworm tune and the cute, easy-to-follow dance movements have propelled “Baby Shark Dance” to fame. K-pop groups like Red Velvet and Black Pink have also performed their own versions, which gave rise to various dance challenges. A fantastical internet chain reaction example.
The thing with this particular platform is that you can rarely guess what type of content will score the most YouTube views.
Right now, the list looks pretty clean-cut. We have the star-studded music videos and then we have animated content aimed towards children and toddlers. Oh, and there’s “Dame Tu Cosita” as the random alien element.
Both “Baby Shark Dance” and “Despacito” are in the lead, and it will be hard to overtake them — but not impossible.
To sum up:
Never underestimate the combined number-boosting powers of toddlers with phones, nostalgia, bots, memes, and internet challenges.
Hopefully, this ranking of most watched YouTube videos has sated your curiosity. And sorry about the earworms.
As of this moment, the most-viewed YouTube video is the “Baby Shark Dance.” And honestly, the considerable view gap between it and the other clips suggests that it will stay that way for a while.
The current big five are, in descending order:
- Baby Shark Dance
- Luis Fonsi — Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
- Johny Johny Yes Papa — LooLoo Kids
- Ed Sheeran — Shape of You
- Wiz Khalifa — See You Again ft. Charlie Puth.
This amazing feat belongs to BTS, with their official music video for “Butter.” On May 22, 2021, the clip was viewed 108,200,000 times!
Over 200 videos have crossed the one billion threshold. You can find the first clip to do so in our collection of most watched YouTube videos above — it’s “Gangnam Style.”