Baby Shark, the cute and ultra-catchy children’s song recorded by South Korean company Pinkfong, has become the most viewed video ever on YouTube.
At 7.04bn views, it edges past Despacito, the 2017 single by Puerto Rican pop stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
Baby Shark has claimed the crown more than four years since it was first uploaded. The original writer of the song is unclear – it has long been a nursery rhyme – but it became a global phenomenon after being recorded by 10-year-old Korean-American singer Hope Segoine.
Produced by educational company Pinkfong and accompanied by piscine dance moves, it first went viral in south-east Asia, then later in the US and Europe. It reached No 6 in the UK singles chart, and No 32 in the US.
At just one minute and 21 seconds long, its nagging “doo-doo-doo-du-du-du-du-du-du” refrain invites endless replays, contributing to its record-breaking total. The earworm has prompted a spin-off live tour, merchandise, books and more, plus reworkings of the song, including one featuring Luis Fonsi and another promoting handwashing during the coronavirus pandemic.
The song is in the public domain and not owned by Pinkfong, but the company was sued in 2019 by children’s songwriter Jonathan Wright, who had recorded a similar version to Pinkfong’s in 2011 and argued that he held copyright on his own take on the material. No outcome has yet been reported in the case.
Last month, the song was at the centre of further alleged wrongdoing, when three Oklahoma prison workers were charged with prisoner cruelty after allegedly handcuffing inmates and forcing them to stand and listen to Baby Shark for as long as two hours. District attorney David Prater said the repeated song would have added “undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering”.