Gummy Bears, Dancing Sharks, Surprise Eggs & Other Aberrations of the Top 50 Most Viewed Youtube Videos of All Time
Because I am the father of a four year old boy who will watch anything as long as it is on Youtube I was recently introduced to the 2007 smash bubblegum novelty sensation “”I’m a Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)”
Now I am not talking about the theme song to the 1980s Disney cartoon. That song was, and remains, a jam. That song rocks nearly as hard as the Ducktales theme song.
No, I’m talking about the most sadistic earworm this side of the Silver Shamrock jingle from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. After listening to the infernal kiddie ditty for the first time in a state combining visceral horror and morbid fascination I didn’t know whether to play it over and over again in a fever of masochistic obsession, each repetition further injuring my brain cells and eardrums, or to hurl my laptop against a wall so that I can never hurt myself by playing the song on it again.
It’s a horrible, horrible song that wedged itself deep into my subconscious the first time I heard it and retains an awful hold on me. I’m clearly not alone because according to Youtube this nonsensical bit of doggerel has been viewed one and a half billion times. No, not one and a half million times. One BILLION and a half times. As in, there are seven billion people on earth and on average about one in four has had their intelligence insulted and their brain attacked by this singularly irritating bit of sugary nonsense.
One and a half billion. It’s hard to even fathom a number that vast. Think of it this way: imagine a number in your mind. Now double it. Quadruple it. Now multiply it by a thousand. Jesus, you’re still only up to thirty eight thousand. You’re simply not that good at thinking up large numbers.
Let’s put it this way: “I’m a Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)”, with its hypnotically wrong close-up footage of a cartoon bear’s ass jiggling rhythmically in time with music is one of the top 50 most viewed Youtube videos of all time. That made me wonder about what else is on that list.
After all, Youtube views aren’t like album sales or box office gross. As huge as Youtube is, it’s still a weird world onto itself with its own galaxy of stars who have won the hearts and minds of easily impressed children, tweens and teens without making any impact whatsoever on the outside world.
It’s a world where the Paul brothers are Gods, PewDiePie is a huge, controversial and much-discussed figure and obnoxious families opening blind bags of Star Wars, Marvel and Disney mini-figures while communicating through a series of cartoon-style, Alvin & The Chipmunks-like vocal distorters wrack up millions upon millions of hits for videos that don’t qualify as entertainment under even the most lenient standards. Hell, they barely qualify as videos.
The Youtube all-time top 50 is a fascinatingly random hodgepodge of ephemera from across the pop culture spectrum. Massive pop stars like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber are predictably well-represented but they share space not just with inane novelty ditties like “I’m a Gummy Bear (Gummy Bear Song)” but also child-oriented nonsense like something called “Baby Shark Dance”, which has wracked up nearly two billion views, and LittleBabyBum’s frankly undistinguished version of “Wheels on the Bus”, which has passed the two billion mark, and not due to quality or importance, needless to say.
Sorry, Jay-Z. In the universe outside of Youtube, you are a God among men and one of our biggest and most respected pop stars and artists but in this bizarre realm nothing you’ve done can compete with “Baby Shark Dance” for sheer popularity. Watch this video and I’m sure you’ll see why.
Heck, nothing Jay-Z has done has surpassed a video called "Huge Eggs Surprise Toys Challenge" from Ryan's Toy Review for views, with the surprise egg opening video clocking over one billion and six hundred million views. Why? Easy. Because it’s a masterpiece of storytelling and composition that single-handedly elevates the surprise egg opening video to the realm of high art.
Just kidding! It’s just another fucking surprise egg video, albeit one that has been viewed a ridiculous number of times. The list of the top 50 most seen Youtube videos includes two episodes of a Russian show called Masha and the Bear, the most popular of which has been seen over three billion times.
Youtube’s 50 most seen videos reflect the unique, international and kid-friendly nature of the powerhouse website. When it comes to commanding eyeballs I’m afraid legends like Bruce Springsteen can’t compete Youtubers who know all too well that you don’t need to be a great artist or create great art or entertainment to reach these simultaneously rarified and strangely undistinguished heights of online popularity. Instead you need to know how to game the system and create viral content guaranteed to score billions of views without being any damn good at all, just laser-focused on weird little niches that are huge on this particular website and all but non-existent outside it.
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