Celebrating 10 Years of YouTube’s Billion Views Club and the Video that Started it all: Psy’s 'Gangnam Style'
On July 15, 2012, music video history was forever changed as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video made its unforgettable debut on YouTube. Psy immediately took the world by storm, with viewers around the globe flocking to YouTube to experience and share the viral sensation. Less than six months later on December 21, 2012, the game-changing video would go on to earn the honor of the first music video ever to hit one billion views on the platform, establishing YouTube’s Billion Views Club (BVC).
With over 4.4 billion views on the video to date, Psy demonstrated the immense power that music videos on YouTube have in connecting artists with their fans around the world, while inspiring others to reach record breaking milestones of their own.
Being the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube was an extraordinary feeling 10 years ago and it still is today. To have played a role in paving the way for music of all kinds to transcend borders is a true honor.” Psy
It took over a year for another music video to match the achievement — Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby” — but 10 years later YouTube’s Billion Views Club has grown to include some of the most iconic music videos that have stood the test of time and made an impression on viewers worldwide. Achieving the billion views milestone on YouTube remains nothing short of extraordinary and is being honored today in a Billion Views Club custom YouTube logo created especially for the anniversary.
“When Psy’s Gangnam Style reached 1 billion views on YouTube it was an extraordinary moment that made history," shared YouTube's Sun Lee, Director, Music Partnerships (Korea & Greater China) & Artist Relations APAC. "The combination of singing in Korean, incorporating unique dance moves into his music video and the global reach of YouTube, led to achieving this incredible milestone which is still cherished by many around the world."
As YouTube’s BVC turns 10, we look back on these and many other unforgettable music videos that have made their place in history as part of the club; including a genre- and generation-spanning collection of some of the most memorable music videos ever made. The elusive list features the likes of Luis Fonsi’s record-breaking sensation “Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee,” BLACKPINK’s “How You Like That,” Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” a-ha’s “Take On Me,” Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again ft. Charlie Puth,” Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk (Official Video) ft. Bruno Mars,” Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” and the club’s most recent entry with BVC first-timer Coolio for his ‘90s hit “Gangsta’s Paradise”.
It's easy to forget just how big a billion really is. If released pre-internet, while it's not the only metric for timelessness, it means the music has traveled through time and the fandom came with it and evolved.” Ryan Thornton Head of Catalog Music, YouTube
J Balvin and Justin Bieber are tied for the most billion views entries as a lead, featured artist or collaborator, with 11 official music videos each, Adele’s “Hello” is the fastest entry into the Billion Views Club, reaching the milestone in just 88 days, and Guns N’ Roses defy decades with the first billion-view music video from both the ‘80s (“Sweet Child O’ Mine”) and ‘90s (“November Rain”). And despite being nearly a decade-running, the achievement continues to be a distinguished milestone celebrated by artists, industry and fans alike.
Coolio recently shared on his first BVC entry, “Who knew that when the door to Gangsta's Paradise opened we'd be standing here 1 BILLION VIEWS later! Stay with me, the journey is just beginning.”
Dua Lipa who has 2 billion views plus videos shared, “The “New Rules” video is so special to me. It was so key in connecting people to the song and it’s just absolutely mad that it’s been viewed over two billion times!”
Cyndi Lauper recently shared, “A lot of people don’t realize this but ‘Girls’ is really a political song. When I got my feminist hands on it, I knew I wanted to make it into an anthem for all women. Sonically, I wanted the song to be uplifting, joyful. When it came time to make the video it was really important to me to make sure we included women from every walk of life. I wanted every little girl watching the video to have the joyful experience of seeing herself on that screen. I wanted us to be a community.
Years later, at the Women’s March I saw that community in action. I saw all types of women and girls carrying signs saying ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun-damental Rights.' And now here we are at a Billion views. Back when we made the video there was no YouTube, so when you think about it it’s really extraordinary. The reach that this song has. The longevity. That people still purposely seek this video out and press play. Wow. I’m really grateful. Thank you.”
Alan Walker, who has 3 videos in BVC shared, “Youtube is where it all started for me! The community has been such a massive part of my life. Since the beginning, I have loved scrolling down the comment section to see how the community reacts to my uploads. The comments section has become a place that keeps my feet on the ground, gives me inspiration and even new connections. To have three videos that have amassed 1 Billion views goes so far beyond what I imagined was possible when I started. And it wouldnt be possible without you. Thank you!”
Los Ángeles Azules shared,"It is an honor for us to include a part of Mexico in the Billion Views Club and achieve it with the videos "Mis Sentimientos" and "Nunca es suficiente" next to our beloved and talented artists Ximena Sariñana and Natalia Lafourcade, respectively. We've always taken our music of Iztapalapa to the world and, thanks to platforms like YouTube, today it is more evident than ever."
Fergal Lawler of The Cranberries recently shared when "Zombie" crossed the BVC mark, “We are so delighted with the news that ‘Zombie’ has reached 1 billion views on YouTube. We are sure Dolores has a big, proud smile on her face too. Thank you so much to all our fans around the world for supporting us over so many years. Hopefully you are all safe and well and managing to find some hope and positivity in our music.”
Zack Gershen, mtheory Partner & Head of Digital Strategy echoed similar sentiments, “YouTube's massive global reach and robust suite of on-platform marketing and analytics tools empowered Major Lazer to develop a truly global fanbase, and to do it independently. The ascent of both the "Lean On" and "Cold Water" music videos to 1 billion views is a testament not only to the incredible cultural impact that Major Lazer has had on a generation of music fans, but also to the power of YouTube to connect artists to fans all over the world.”
The Billion Views Club represents the diverse mix of global sounds and voices that have helped make YouTube the home of music.” Kevin Meenan Music Trends Manager, YouTube
For 15+ years YouTube has been home to music videos and so much more. We’ve recently introduced Premieres: Live Redirect, Trailers, Countdown Themes, Shorts and other product innovations that have enhanced the video experience for artists and fans alike. And today, we are celebrating the artists and fans who have helped hundreds of music videos achieve this remarkable Billion Views Club milestone.
“The Billion Views Club represents the diverse mix of global sounds and voices that have helped make YouTube the home of music," YouTube Music Trends Manager Kevin Meenan says. "The list serves as a reminder of the power of the visual pairing with a great song, with the music video – alongside features like Premieres and Shorts -- serving as the ultimate way for artists to share their art and vision directly with fans."
Below are just a some of the most astounding stats held by artists across the globe for their billion-view-plus music videos:
Artists with the most official music video entries in the BVC
- J Balvin - 11 [tied]
- Justin Bieber - 11 [tied]
- Ozuna - 10
- Rihanna - 8 [tied]
- Nicki Minaj - 8 [tied]
- Maluma - 8 [tied]
*Methodology: Official music video entries as a lead, featured artist or collaborator
Fastest music videos to reach 1 billion views
- Adele - Hello - 88 days
- Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video) - 97 days [tied]
- Luis Fonsi - Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee - 97 days [tied]
- J Balvin, Willy William - Mi Gente (Official Video) - 103 days
- Luis Fonsi, Demi Lovato - Échame La Culpa (Video Oficial) - 111 days
*Methodology: Total days from date of release to date video crossed 1B views
Most Viewed Music Videos of all time:
- Luis Fonsi - Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee - 7.9B
- Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video) - 5.7B
- Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth [Official Video] Furious 7 Soundtrack - 5.5B
- Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk (Official Video) ft. Bruno Mars - 4.6B
- PSY - GANGNAM STYLE(강남스타일) M/V - 4.4B
Music Videos by the Decade (pre-2000s):
1970s Music Videos in the Billions Views Club:
1980s Music Videos in the Billion Views Club:
- Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine (Official Music Video)
- a-ha - Take On Me (Official Video) [Remastered in 4K]
- Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (Official Video)
- Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (Official Music Video)
- Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Official Video)
- Europe - The Final Countdown (Official Video)
1990s Music Videos in the Billion Views Club:
- Guns N' Roses - November Rain (Official Music Video)
- Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Official Music Video)
- The Cranberries - Zombie (Official Music Video)
- Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You (Official 4K Video)
- 4 Non Blondes - What's Up (Official Music Video)
- Metallica - Nothing Else Matters (Official Music Video)
- AC/DC - Thunderstruck (Official Video)
- Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way (Official HD Video)
- Dr. Dre - Still D.R.E. (Official Music Video) ft. Snoop Dogg
- Aqua - Barbie Girl (Official Music Video)
- Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
*Methodology: Official music videos from the 70s, 80s and 90s to reach 1B views. Decade is based on the original release year of the standalone music video.
The only questions left to ask are: Whose music video will be the next to reach 5 billion views? And which music video will be the first to reach 10 billion views on YouTube? Only time will tell, so keep tuning in!