The Other Billion-View Song You Never Saw Coming

March 11, 2015

There is one video that sits atop the mountain of YouTube videos bearing the crown inscribed “Most Watched YouTube Video of All Time,” and it is a video for a song. That song is "Gangnam Style" by Psy. Uploaded almost three years ago by OfficialPsy, the video has tallied 2.3 billion views. This number, which is almost mind boggling, would have seemed unthinkable when the video was released. And yet, here we are.

"Gangnam Style" became the first video and song to cross 1 billion views on YouTube in December 2012. Next came Justin Bieber’s "Baby," which crossed a billion views last year. If you look at the list of YouTube’s most-viewed videos, you’ll see that there are a couple more videos, all songs, that are close to accomplishing this feat. Psy has another contender with "Gentleman," already at .8 billion, Katy Perry has "Roar" at .8 billion and "Dark Horse" at .9 billion. But there’s one other song that has already passed this prestigious mark and doesn’t appear on the list of the ten most-viewed videos of all time, and there’s no way you’ll ever guess what it is. Here’s a hint: It was released in 2007.

In 2007, the first iPhones was released, the last Harry Potter book went on sale, destined to become the fastest-selling book of all time, and a humble Gummy Bear began singing a self-affirming ditty titled I’m A Gummy Bear. For those who are unfamiliar, or are in need of a reminder, this is "I’m A Gummy Bear."

"I’m A Gummy Bear" was a phenomenon. While it had debuted as a 30-second video clip in Hungary in August 2006, the full-length song was unleashed on the world in October 2007. Not only did the song spend eight months atop Hungary's ringtone charts, but the song charted in the US as a dance track, where it has gone double platinum. Gummy Bear has spawned video games, movies, and licensing deals galore. This video, the English version of the song, has received 528 million views since being uploaded in October 2007. Of course, 528 million views is an astonishing number, but it’s nowhere near a billion. Well, this isn’t the only official upload of this song.

"I’m A Gummy Bear" has been translated into dozens of languages and uploaded to the official YouTube channel, "ICanRockYourWorld.” If you add up all the different translations of the song uploaded to ICanRockYourWorld, you arrive at: 921 million views. That moves the Gummy Bear song past Dark Horse and Roar, but it isn’t quite the 1 billion views promised above.

Not a problem.

There’s the other official Gummy Bear channel, “GummyBearIntl,” which also hosts the song and even more translations.  If you add those views to the mix, you get 1.1 billion views, making this a third song to have crossed one billion views on YouTube.

Psy’s "Gangnam Style" was unique. It was a song sung almost entirely in Korean, a language spoken by less than .01% of the world’s population, that managed to charm the world. Justin Bieber’s "Baby" had an army of Beliebers behind it and the benefit of being in English, the lingua franca of the pop music world. "I’m A Gummy Bear" became a force to be reckoned with by greeting people around the world on their own terms in their own languages - my gummy bear, your gummy bear, everyone’s gummy bear.

- Earnest Pettie