Unless you spent the latter half of 2018 on the moon with your hands over your ears, it's highly likely you're at least aware of Baby Shark, the infectious kids' song and scourge of parents everywhere. So popular is this viral sensation that it's now entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart, meaning it's not going away any time soon. Sorry.
Taking 32nd place in the chart (ahead of Ellie Goulding, Lil Wayne, and Ariana Grande's Imagine), the song has been watched over 2.1 billion times on YouTube, making it one of 30 most-viewed videos ever. According to Billboard, it's been streamed 20.8 million times in the past week alone, with 73 percent coming from video.
The song's video origins are what's propelled it into virality, of course -- it's pretty unlikely that it would have seen such popularity without the accompanying visuals that kids find so appealing. And this is a big deal for music. Traditionally, music charts relied on record and CD sales, so making it onto any chart was no mean feat -- Jimi Hendrix featured in the Top 40 only once. Jimi Hendrix! Now, digital sales, online streams and video views account for a large bulk of the numbers, which is why we're seeing more and more outsiders hitting the charts.
In 2012, when Billboard started taking online listening into account, for example, we saw Psy and Gangnam Style rocket into the Zeitgeist. Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan later tweaked the formula to make streams from paid-for services such as Spotify and Apple Music even more valuable to chart figures. The upshot is that music charts are essentially anyone's game now, and that has the potential to change popular culture entirely. Following the success of Baby Shark, the educational company behind it, Pinkfong USA, says it plans to develop Baby Shark into an "entertainment brand what will be enjoyed by generations to come." Well done, everyone.