Few people realize that the first video ever uploaded to YouTube was an 18-second clip titled “Me at the zoo.” Shot by a friend of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo, the video—which is still online—is a quick monologue about elephants with large trunks.
That was in 2005. Less than a year after YouTube’s founding, Google bought the company for $1.65 billion. In the years that followed, YouTube became available in countries outside the U.S. and also launched an HD option. Gamers and vloggers had the earliest success from the debut of ad revenue.
Today, YouTube is the leader in online video hosting, with 300 hours of video uploaded each minute and almost 5 billion videos watched each day. However, the site’s most popular videos have nothing to do with elephants or even zoos. Shockingly, they aren’t vlogs, beauty tutorials, or Vine compilations, either. Music videos dominate the top 100 videos on the platform. And in 2012, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” became the first YouTube video ever to hit one billion views.
That music videos are the most popular type of video on YouTube comes as no surprise. Videos like Drake’s “God’s Plan” and even older ones like Kanye’s “Bound 2” give music fans the ability to associate a stunning visual with their favorite tracks. Of course, if they don’t like the video, this can backfire—but that certainly isn’t the case with some of the most watched videos on YouTube.
Although it’s likely that a lot of music video views come from people simply playing the music without necessarily watching their screen, YouTube has overall proven that even in a post-video-MTV world, music videos are still an incredibly popular form of content. Check out the most viewed YouTube videos below.
Note: View counts as of 10/30/2018