Why the diabolical earworm “Baby Shark” is so popular
Videos for “Baby Shark,” a diabolical earworm, have been watched 3.3 billion times in a viral children-song craze that spans the globe. But why?
The difference between a song people can’t get enough of and a song nobody cares about is…well, no one really knows. And it’s not for lack of trying. Musicians, musicologists and music theorists, statisticians, analysts, and even psychologists have tried for years to figure out the formula. Now they’ve got the slide rules and metronomes out again for a children’s song whose videos have collectively been viewed a jaw-dropping 3.3 billion times. The song is so simple it seems like it couldn’t possibly be the object of such adoration, and yet there it is. “Baby Shark” is a reminder of music’s perplexing hold on the human spirit.
The Baby Shark phenomenon
The song itself appears to be based on a well-worn nursery and camp song going back at least a decade, if not further. It’s not completely dissimilar to the French singalong “Bébé Requin.”
“Baby Shark” began its swim to the top in a 2014 South Korean video from Pinkfong, an educational platform that’s produced thousands of videos for kids. The company’s spokesperson explains to Quartz how the song was composed: “We took a fresh twist and re-created on a traditional singalong chant with our Pinkfong’s Baby Shark.” Pinkfong also added a snippet of Dvorak’s New World Symphony to the front for dramatic effect.
Warning: The song is desperately catchy.
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