While most people turn to YouTube for influencers, tutorials and viral clips, a lot of us sign on to watch our favorite music videos. Unlike the past when we would tune into MTV to binge the best videos from popular stars, at the few clicks of a button, billions are rewatching (and rewatching and rewatching) these clips on YouTube. So much so, that the most-viewed clip has garnered a whopping 6 billion viewers!
If you’re bored of your current playlist and want to find out whose clip is worthy of the repeat button, here’s a list of the top 20 most popular music videos ever!
View counts are from September 2020. Views and rankings will change as we update this article over time.
20. Blank Space – Taylor Swift (2014)
Views: 2.64 billion
This warming yet hilarious video shows single Taylor meeting a charming bachelor and welcoming him into her life with open arms. But like most of Swift’s relationships – as they’ve played out in the media (at least) – it ends sourly. The popular song and video play on the way Taylor has been portrayed and shines humor on her ‘psycho’ public persona. It was after this clip when everyone realized Taylor Swift is not only a sweetheart, but a satirical self-assured star who owns her crazy man-eater reputation.
19. Hello – Adele (2015)
Views: 2.71 billion
The Internet almost broke when Adele teased the music video for her eagerly-awaited comeback single, Hello, after a four-year hiatus. Although the clip is no Oscar film, it is the love song which likely attracted the clicks. The hit single broke the Vevo record for the most views in a day (27.7 million) and BBC News reported that it was being viewed an average one million times an hour. Hello also became an international number one song and the fastest-selling digital single in the US in 2015.
18. Mi Gente – J Balvin and Willy William (2017)
Views: 2.77 billion
Latin singer J Balvin had his big break with the hip-moving single Mi Gente. The smash-hit was the first-ever Latin video to pass millions of views on YouTube in just 47 days. If listening to this song isn’t enough to get you dancing, then the vibrant and fast-moving video is. The clip features men and women from around the world showing their unique moves to the hit banger, and we just can’t stop watching (and grooving)!
17. Let Her Go – Passenger (2012)
Views: 2.78 billion
Needless to say this is one of the most popular breakup songs! This simple yet effective video sees Passenger performing his hit single on stage, allowing the viewer to focus on the lyrics rather than what’s happening on screen. Although a rather average video; the simplicity of the clip really depicts the feeling and the importance of the lyrics. The single alone gained international success selling over one million digital copies in the UK, and over four million in the US (July 2014).
16. Girls Like You – Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B (2018)
Views: 2.81 billion
While the lyrics are about a man thanking a girl for putting up with him, the famous music video sends a different kind of message. The Girls Like You clip features over 20 female celebs (Camila Cabello, Cardi B, J.Lo, etc) shedding light on identity politics and various social issues. By featuring lots of famous faces from different nationalities and backgrounds, the video highlights how all types of women are equal. Girls Like You is officially YouTube’s ninth most liked video and is ranked as one of the most iconic pop clips of the decade by PopSugar.
15. Faded – Alan Walker (2015)
Views: 2.85 billion
EDM DJ Alan Walker had his breakthrough with the hit single Faded which despite being five years old, is still one of the most streamed songs on Spotify. While the successful single itself hit the top spot in more than 10 countries, the accompanying video has been marked as the 15th most popular music clips of all time. The gloomy video which sees a lost young boy wandering through derelict buildings in search for his home is a great fit for the psychedelic song.
14. Dark Horse – Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (2014)
Views: 2.86 billion
Katy Perry never fails to amaze us with her imaginative performances. The Dark Horse video embraces Egyptian culture and sees the star transform into a Pharaoh Katy Patra. Although it’s had over two billion views, the video has had its fair share of criticism with many believing that it’s discarding Egyptian culture. What’s more, conspiracy theorists also bashed the clip for its apparent Illuminati references. Despite its backlash, the music video became the first clip by a female artist to reach one billion views on Vevo.
13. Lean On – Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ (2015)
Views: 2.88 billion
The Bollywood themed video shows the artists dancing in unison with professional Indian dancers. Recorded in India and Sweden, the Lean On video has captivating scenery and rhythm that makes you want to keep watching and even join in. The colorful clip has garnered over two billion views, while the catchy song itself was Spotify’s most streamed song of all time (until Drake’s One Dance overtook it) and is also dubbed one of the best-selling singles of all time with 13.1 million sales worldwide.
12. Bailando – Enrique Iglesias featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona (2014)
Views: 2.90 billion
Bailando is the longest-standing number one single on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart (41 consecutive weeks), and it’s not hard to see why! Not only is the song a spicy Spanish smash-hit, the video truly embraces the Latin culture, making you want to learn how to move just as well as the professional Flamenco dancers. Bailando earned Enrique Iglesias three Latin Grammys including Song of the Year in 2014. No surprise then why it’s gained click after click!
11. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (2014)
Views: 2.96 billion
The fun video shows a playful Taylor shaking off the bad vibes from her haters and having a rebellious, good time. After all, she’s one of the only stars who can brag about having two music videos in the most-viewed list! Crooning about ignoring the false rumors and mimicking other celebs like Lady Gaga, Tay shows off her (pretty terrible) dance moves and makes us chuckle throughout the satirical piece. It was this clip that helped Taylor become the first female to have a video on YouTube reach two billion views.
10. Counting Stars – OneRepublic (2013)
Views: 3.05 billion
Although Counting Stars has a strong message about heartache and lost love, this isn’t quite depicted in the video. Instead, it’s a simple clip of OneRepublic jamming in their garage. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped the video from reappearing in the hit-list year after year – even a decade after its release. The Counting Stars clip made history by being the first by a band to reach one billion views in 2015 – yes, that’s more than any One Direction or Little Mix visual can brag about.
9. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran (2014)
Views: 3.07 billion
This song quickly became the theme track of every wedding since it’s release. The sweet and strong lyrics marked it as one of the greatest love songs of all time, also winning the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 2016. Although the hit was written for his wife, the romantic video shows Ed Sheeran ballroom dancing with a model – we really didn’t know Ed could move like that! Apparently, the singer spent five hours a day for three weeks practicing his moves! The popular music video not only attracted views thanks to Ed’s moves, but also because it’s one of the few to be shot continuously.
8. Roar – Katy Perry (2013)
Views: 3.17 billion
Unsurprisingly, Katy Perry’s Roar is also among the most-watched music videos and songs on YouTube. In fact, she is the first female artist to reach 3 billion views on YouTube, thanks to this clip. Once again, the great storyteller definitely doesn’t disappoint with a theatrical appearance in a jungle including great scenery, costumes, and yes, animals. A cheesy video that’s highly entertaining, there’s no denying you didn’t hear this track over and over again upon its release in 2013.
7. Sugar – Maroon 5 (2015)
Views: 3.28 billion
The popular song may tell the story of a man who needs love and affection from his partner, but the video, however, is rather amusing. In the clip that has garnered over three billion views in just four years, we see Adam Levine and co. crashing as many weddings as they can to perform their hit single and surprise the bride and groom. While the music video had major success, the song only peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. That’s not to say it wasn’t one of the most-heard or catchiest songs of the year, though.
6. Sorry – Justin Bieber (2015)
Views: 3.34 billion
This stylish video throws it back to a classic dancing clip (with no hidden meaning or motive) – and we absolutely love it! If you’re anything like us, you’ll have guiltily paused it a few times to learn some of the moves. As the first released single after a long-time, Justin’s public apology in the form of this song has been welcomed and played over three billion times. That’s surprising considering Bieber doesn’t even make a cameo in this clip. We guess the dance moves were just too darn compelling.
5. Gangnam Style – PSY (2012)
Views: 3.78 billion
Whether you love it or hate it, you have definitely had this song on repeat. Gangnam Style has after all become a pop culture phenomenon since its release in 2012. The wild video is just as loud as the song, with singer PSY passing through crazy scenes until he busts out his famous horse-riding dance. The outrageously fun clip was actually the first ever video on YouTube to hit one billion views, however it is also the 19th most disliked on the streaming platform.
4. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (2014)
Views: 3.94 billion
This funk-pop hit is Bruno Mars’ most successful single to date, having topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks and being the 4th most-watched music video on YouTube. The Uptown Funk video is as smooth as Bruno’s dance moves. With most of it featuring him and his pals grooving to the beat, it’s hard to not bop along. With their 70s and 80s outfits, Bruno and Mark Ronson give us a fun, retro vibe, truly making this clip a colorful classic. While there’s no real story, it’s an addictive and uplifting video that is a must-watch.
3. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (2015)
Views: 4.71 billion
You know a video is good when it manages to surpass the ever-popular Gangnam Style. In fact, the See You Again clip is ranked as the second most-liked video on YouTube. This song and video is a touching tribute to actor Paul Walker who sadly passed away in 2013. With plenty of scenes from Furious 7 throughout the nostalgic clip, it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to the amazing actor. If you haven’t seen the video, be prepared with a box of tissues by your side! The third most-viewed song is a tear-jerker.
2. Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (2017)
Views: 4.97 billion
Another hit love song comes from the one and only Ed Sheeran. This time, the track has a faster tempo with a more active video to match. Filmed in a boxing ring, the video shows Ed showing off his punching skills with a cute girl by his side. Shape of You not only became one of the fastest music videos to reach one billion views on YouTube (seven days after its release), it was also the best-selling song of 2017 and the entire decade in the UK and has been ranked as Billboard’s ninth most successful song of all-time.
1. Despacito – Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee (2017)
Views: 6.96 billion
The top spot unsurprisingly goes to the hit record, Despacito. Five years after its release, and we can guarantee it’s still replaying on your radios. The catchy song is filmed in Puerto Rico, capturing the true element of the city. From colorful buildings, blue seas and stylish clothing, the video depicts the Latin culture perfectly.
Despacito isn’t just the most-viewed music video ever, but the most-watched clip on YouTube – which means it overrides Baby Shark Dance or any other viral vlog PewDiePie has done. In under seven months, Despacito broke the three billion mark and is today officially the most-liked song on YouTube and most popular music video of all time.
So, there you have it! The most popular music videos on YouTube, from theatrics to heartbreaking songs and cool dance moves that keep us all entertained.
Let us know which famous video is your favorite by leaving a comment in the section below!