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Top 15 most watched YouTube music videos of all time

The most watched music videos on YouTube: A ranking of the top 15

  • 26 January 2023

YouTube has become the go-to platform for music videos, and these 15 videos have left a lasting impact, achieving billions of views. From Ed Sheeran's ‘Shape of You’ to PSY's ‘Gangnam Style’ and the unforgettable Crazy Frog version of the Beverly Hills Cop theme, these are the most-watched music videos on YouTube of all time, not including nursery rhymes.

Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee – Despacito (8 billion views)

At the top of YouTube's most-watched music video chart sits "Despacito," a song credited with bringing Spanish-language pop music to the mainstream market. A fusion of reggaeton and pop, the hit was the lead single from Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi's 2019 album, 'Vida', whilst it had been released as a stand-alone single in 2017.

Ed Sheeran – Shape of You (5.8 billion views)

'Shape of You' dominated the charts, securing the top spot in 34 countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK, Australian and Canadian singles charts. The track made history by holding the number one position for an impressive 16 consecutive weeks on the Canadian Hot 100, and became the first-ever song to reach 2 billion streams on Spotify. As of December 2019, it's now the second-most streamed song on Spotify and the most-streamed song of the decade, solidifying its place as a modern-day classic.

Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – See You Again (5.7 billion views)

'See You Again' is a track that was created as a tribute to the late Paul Walker for the Furious 7 soundtrack. It turned out to be the biggest hit single for both Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, achieving massive success and tying Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' for the second longest-running rap number-one single in the US, only behind Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road'. The song held the record for the most-streamed track in a single day on Spotify in the US, until it was surpassed by 'Drag Me Down' by One Direction. The music video for the song was the most-viewed video on YouTube from July to August 2017, proving its enduring popularity among fans.

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk (4.8 billion views)

'Uptown Funk' is a catchy tune that became a cultural sensation, appearing in Glee and Skippy peanut butter commercials. The song topped the charts in 19 countries and reached the Top 10 of 15 others, making it the most successful single for both Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. With its undeniable hooks and infectious beats, it's no surprise that it quickly became an earworm that people couldn't get enough of.

PSY – GANGNAM STYLE (4.6 billion views)

It's a song that became a cultural phenomenon, largely due to its goofy music video and easy-to-recreate dance moves. In December 2012, the song made history by becoming the first YouTube video to reach 1 billion views. It held the title of the most-viewed video on YouTube from November 24, 2012, until July 10, 2017, when it was overtaken by 'See You Again' by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth. The song's infectious beats, quirky lyrics, and iconic dance moves made it an instant hit with audiences around the world.

El Chombo ft. Cutty Ranks – Dame Tu Cosita (4.2 billion views)

El Chombo's 'Dame Tu Cosita' is a viral sensation that has cemented its place in pop culture as an internet meme. Originally released in 1997 as a short version, a remix of the track was dropped in 2001, serving as the foundation for the now-iconic 2018 version. Capitalizing on the song's viral success, French label Juston Records signed El Chombo and commissioned an extended version of the track, paired with a fresh music video. The revamped version was uploaded to Ultra Music's YouTube channel in April 2018, where it swiftly gained massive popularity among audiences worldwide.

Maroon 5 – Sugar (3.8 billion views)

Maroon 5's 'Sugar' is a catchy tune that's hard to shake, and its music video, directed by David Dobkin, known for his hit film Wedding Crashers, takes the infectious track to the next level. Dobkin, the mastermind behind the video, teamed up with several unsuspecting couples by arranging for the band to crash their weddings, adding an element of surprise and a dose of reality to the final product. The innovative video, which plays out like a mini-reality show, premiered on YouTube in 2018, providing fans with an unforgettable viewing experience.

Katy Perry – Roar (3.7 billion views)

This is a chart-topping anthem that saw Katy Perry embracing her wild side in its accompanying music video. The jungle-inspired visual, which features Perry befriending a tiger, helped her make history by becoming the fourth video to reach 1 billion views on Vevo in 2015. This milestone also made her the first artist to have two music videos with over a billion views on the platform. The video's popularity continued to soar, reaching 3 billion views in early 2020, making Katy Perry the first female artist to achieve this milestone on the platform.

OneRepublic – Counting Stars (3.7 billion views)

'Counting Stars' is a smash hit from OneRepublic that has dominated charts worldwide. The single hit number one in countries like the UK and Canada, and reached the number two spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also made it to the Top 10 in over 20 countries. Despite being stuck at number two for two weeks behind 'Timber' by Pitbull featuring Kesha, it stayed in the Top 10 for a staggering 25 consecutive weeks. This makes 'Counting Stars' tied with 'Apologize' as OneRepublic's highest-peaking single in the United States, solidifying its place as one of the band's most successful singles to date.

Crazy Frog - Axel F (3.7 billion views)

'Axel F' is a timeless classic that has a rich history, starting off as an electronic instrumental track by German musician Harold Faltermeyer, serving as the theme for the 1984 Eddie Murphy film Beverly Hills Cop. The original version of the track was an international number-one hit in 1985. The song was then re-imagined in 2005 by Crazy Frog, at the peak of the novelty ringtone craze. The new version became a summer hit and was heavily marketed as a ringtone.

Justin Bieber – Sorry (PURPOSE: The Movement) (3.6 billion views)

It's a smooth dancehall hit that seamlessly blends tropical house rhythms and dembow beats. The single spent a total of seven weeks at the top of the Canadian Hot 100 and three weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was replaced at number one by another Justin Bieber single, 'Love Yourself', just before Valentine's Day in 2016. This made Bieber the 12th artist to achieve the impressive feat of self-replacing at number one on the Hot 100.

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud (3.5 billion views)

It is a timeless ballad that spent 19 weeks in the UK's Top 40, before reaching the summit in November 2014 and becoming Ed Sheeran's second number-one single. The song also claimed the top spot in countries like Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Denmark, Netherlands, Slovakia, and South Africa. It reached the number two position on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100. In 2015, it made history by becoming the first single to spend an entire year in the UK Top 40, cementing its place as a classic hit in popular music.

Katy Perry ft. Juicy J - Dark Horse (3.4 billion views)

'Dark Horse' is an electrifying hit that reached the top ten in nearly 20 countries, including the UK, New Zealand and Sweden. The song, a fusion of electropop and trap elements, has been credited by Billboard for helping to establish trap music's place on the charts. The accompanying music video, directed by Mathew Cullen, became the first from a female artist to reach 1 billion views on Vevo and YouTube. It also holds the distinction of being the second most-viewed music video of all time by a female artist, behind another Katy Perry hit, 'Roar'.

Alan Walker – Faded (3.3 billion views)

'Faded' is a trailblazer in EDM, becoming the first track in the genre to reach the 3 billion view milestone on YouTube. As of April 2022, it holds the 48th spot on Spotify's list of most-streamed songs with a staggering 1.5 billion streams. Initially released in 2015, the song's success can be attributed to the copyright agreement that allowed content creators on YouTube to use it freely, which helped it gain widespread popularity. Charting in multiple countries, It reached the Top 10 in most of them and even hit the number one spot in over ten countries, solidifying its place as a true hit.

Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B – Girls Like You (3.3 billion views)

Maroon 5's 'Girls Like You' which features Cardi B, is a powerhouse hit that has made waves in the music industry. A re-release of the 2017 song, the collaboration between the two artists spent an impressive seven weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it Maroon 5's fourth and Cardi B's third chart-topping single. The song tied with Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You' and Post Malone and Swae Lee's 'Sunflower' for the longest Top 10 run in the chart's history, with an impressive more than 30 weeks. It also reached the summit of the charts in eleven other countries, solidifying it as a global hit.

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