The 20 Most Popular Music Videos of the 2000s

The 2000s were an interesting time for music videos. MTV slowly lost its firm grip on its position of power with the advent of YouTube in 2005, signaling the new era of streaming and a new way for artists to attract and retain audiences. Fans welcomed music from the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry with open arms on YouTube, but alongside the latest and greatest, some old favorites given a new life on the platform. With billions of views to go around, here are the 20 most popular music videos from the start of the YouTube dynasty.

"Axel F" — Crazy Frog (Daniel Malmedahl)
1/20
However much attention the latest pop and rock stars demanded on YouTube in the 2000s, the most popular music video of the decade doesn’t even feature a real singer or musician — just a Crazy Frog. Daniel Malmedahl created Crazy Frog on a whim after messing around with a computer and remixing sounds he made in imitation of his friends’ mopeds. This eventually turned into the Crazy Frog ringtone (at the peak of ringtones in 2005), a combination of the Frog’s sounds and the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop. It outsold Coldplay that year and amassed 2.34 billion views on YouTube between 2009 when it was uploaded and 2020. 
"I Am A Gummy Bear" — Gummibar
2/20
Crazy Frog almost lost its crown in 2008 thanks to Christian Schneider’s “I Am A Gummy Bear,” more popularly known as "Gummy Bear Song." It’s a song (and ringtone) about being a Gummy Bear, with a video featuring a large green terrifying creature that’s supposed to be one of the candies come to life. The album containing the song managed to make it into the top 20, and the video garnered 2.09 billion views while also turning into a popular meme
"Numb" — Linkin Park
3/20
Linkin Park’s “Numb” (Meteor, 2003) landed on YouTube in 2007 (the same year as the “Gummy Bear Song”), but it wasn’t until much later that the video became the band’s first to surpass a billion views. After lead vocalist Chester Bennington died in 2017, fans started a movement to push views for "Numb" past the breaking point — and they succeeded that same year. Three years later, “Numb” is sitting comfortably at 1.44 billion views.
"November Rain" — Guns 'N' Roses
4/20
Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” Use Your Illusion I, 1991) slides in with 1.42 billion views, even though it took 9 years to push past a billion views after first hitting the band's VEVO page in 2009. When it did, “November Rain” became the oldest song with over a billion views. Whether or not that helped the band recoup the costs from what was the most expensive music video ever at the time is another matter. The chapel in the desert cost $150,000 and that's not including the movie-style special effects and costuming.
"Bad Romance" — Lady Gaga
5/20
Lady Gaga broke plenty of records during her rapid rise to fame in the late 2000s, making “Bad Romance” (The Fame Monster, 2009) the fifth most popular song of the 2000s with 1.25 billion views. It’s no small feat for a song written by a 23-year-old during a bus trip through Norway, and — like most of Gaga's pieces — contains multitudes of meaning. The overarching idea was the “bad romance” between art and commercial success, but the core of “Bad Romance” was based on her experiences with relationships that she wanted to work, yet knew they never could. “Bad Romance” was one of her more highly anticipated singles after a low-quality version leaked shortly before Gaga was set to premier the song on Saturday Night Live.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" — Queen
6/20
Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night At The Opera, 1975) would stay at the top of the charts for centuries — or so Kenny Everett, the first DJ to play the song on radio, thought. “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed at the peak for 9 weeks straight in 1975, and then 5 more consecutive weeks after its re-release in 1991. By 2020 (11 years after making its first official YouTube appearance) “Bohemian Rhapsody” accrued about 1.2 billion views. It’s pretty impressive, considering the most common first reaction on hearing it is wondering what it's going on in the song. It was apparently too much even for Queen, as the band used tapes for the trickier parts during live performances. Regardless, it unseated “November Rain” as the oldest song to hit a billion views in 2019.

 


"Sweet Child O’ Mine" — Guns N' Roses
7/20
One of a few bands with multiple entries on this list, Guns N' Roses' “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (Appetite for Destruction, 1987) began with Slash and a few other band members just “fucking around with this stupid little riff” one day. Frontman Axl Rose heard it and realized it had huge potential, and then took it in a completely different direction from what others expected. For the lyrics, Rose used a poem he’d written for his girlfriend at the time, Erin Everly. For the rest of the song, he reached back to his Indiana days and matched “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The resulting track and video ended up being the first song from the ‘80s to net over a billion views (1.12 billion to be exact) on YouTube.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" — Nirvana
8/20
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nevermind, 1991) unsurprisingly racked up 1.11 billion views in the 11 years since it landed on the band’s VEVO page. NPR called it the genre-changing anthem for a generation that didn’t want an anthem, which is a perfectly true and contradictory statement for the conflicted band as well. Kurt Cobain wanted fame almost more than anything, but also said he didn’t want to be famous at the same time. Nirvana wanted to break free from the old style of rock and roll from their parents’ generation, but relied heavily on styles and foundations from well-known rock stars. Either way, it ended up re-shaping music the way Cobain wanted anyway.
"You Belong With Me" — Taylor Swift
9/20
Long before Taylor Swift became the star she is today, she was blurring the lines between country and pop with the likes of “You Belong With Me” (Fearless, 2008). It's standard romance fare about a girl watching the object of her affection waste his love on someone who doesn’t care for him, and Swift came up with the idea after hearing a friend go through a similar situation. But the video (and its 1.08 billion views on YouTube) turns it into a mini-movie of sorts. In just under four minutes, “You Belong With Me” moves through the whole narrative arc complete with climax, confrontation, and closing at a school dance.
"Halo" — Beyoncé
10/20
Beyoncé’s “Halo” (I Am… Sasha Fierce, 2009) comes in with 1.05 billion views and a popular theory, fueled by Simon Cowell, behind it. According to the theory, the song wasn’t written or intended for Beyoncé, but Leona Lewis was too busy to fit it into her schedule. Writer Ryan Tedder later claimed that wasn’t what happened at all, instead claiming that Beyoncé hadn’t decided whether she wanted the song, so he offered it to Lewis as a threat. Either way, “Halo” turned into Beyoncé’s 18th biggest billboard hit and outperformed all of her other videos on YouTube.
"Zombie" — The Cranberries
11/20
April 2020 marked the first time an Irish band broke the billion views mark for a single video on YouTube, with the Cranberries’ “Zombie” (single, 1994) reaching 1.03 billion views. Inspiration for the song came during a London tour in March 1993, which is when a bomb detonated in Warrington and killed two children. The incident took place not far from where singer Dolores O’Riordan was at the time, and she said she felt compelled to pour her thoughts into song, both condemning the IRA’s actions and pleading with listeners to understand the IRA didn’t represent Ireland and its people.
"In The End" — Linkin Park
12/20

Considering their success in the 2000s, it shouldn't be a surprise that Linkin Park has multiple videos with over a billion views on YouTube. The 1.03 billion viewers of “In The End” (Hybrid Theory, 2000) show the popularity of the band's dark speculation on hopelessness from when the band was rehearsing in the seedy underside of Hollywood (as Mike Shinoda said).

Though the rest of the band loved “In The End,” it wasn’t something Chester Bennington wanted to record. “I was never a fan of 'In The End' and I didn't even want it to be on the record, honestly. How wrong could I have possibly been?” he told VMusic in 2014. “[It] gave me a good lesson, as an artist, that I don't necessarily have to only make music, in my band, that I want to listen to.”

 


"Hot N Cold" — Katy Perry
13/20
“Hot N Cold” (One Of The Boys, 2008) was one of Katy Perry’s first big hits, but it almost didn’t happen. In 2006, Columbia started the process of dropping Perry from their label, but Jason Flom — Virgin’s chairman at the time — was determined to have Perry for EMI. Flom’s first efforts at pitching Perry to EMI didn’t find receptive ears, though that could partly be because he was singing along to every Perry song he played for Virgin’s executive group. EMI finally signed Perry over the next two years with Angelica Cob-Baehler’s help, but not without the label pushing for two guaranteed smash hits for her first album. Thus “Hot N Cold” and “I Kissed A Girl” were born, with the former shooting ahead in popularity with 985 million views.
"Chop Suey!" — System of a Down
14/20
System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!” (Toxicity, 2001) has been viewed 977 million times since 2009, making it the 14th most popular music video of the 2000s. It almost wasn’t called “Chop Suey!” though, as Columbia producer Rick Rubin said the band wanted to name it “Self-Righteous Suicide.” The label refused to sanction such a provocative title, but even with the name change, Rubin said it remains one of the most influential and daring songs ever. To this day, there's still nothing else like it.
"In Da Club" 50 Cent
15/20
50 Cent’s “In Da Club” (Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2003) comes in with 963 million views, but it actually wasn’t meant for 50 Cent. Eminem’s group, D12, took up the song initially but couldn’t figure out the best way to approach the lyrics. It was passed along to Eminem’s friend, 50 Cent, who decided to turn it into a lighthearted song to balance the darkness in the rest of his album. BBC’s Joy Dunbar called it a “spectacular party anthem,” while AllMusic’s Jason Birchmeier described it as “a tailor-made mass-market good-time single” befitting the hotly anticipated album.
"I Am A Gummy Bear" (Spanish version) — Gummibar
16/20
If you thought there would only be one entry for "I Am A Gummy Bear" on this list, you clearly haven't seen its international popularity. It’s the same “Gummy Bear Song” (but in Spanish), and it has 950 million views. The song was translated into 12 different languages, and putting all the views for each language version together makes "Gummy Bear Song" as popular as "Gangnam Style."
"Viva La Vida" — Coldplay
17/20

There’s a noteworthy gap in view counts between the second inclusion of everyone's favorite song about gummy bears and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, 2008), as the Frida Kahlo-inspired song racked up 641 million views since 2008.

Chris Martin chose “Viva La Vida” as the song and album name after seeing Kahlo’s optimistic artwork of the same name and walking away impressed by how positive she could be despite the trials she faced. Yet the song itself is about judging life once it’s over, so there are a few differing views on it.


"Don’t Stop Me Now" — Queen
18/20

Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Jazz, 1978) might only have 611 million views on YouTube, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming what Billboard described as a cultural phenomenon that’s out-streamed The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Stylus Magazine called “Don’t Stop Me Now” an anthem for fun designed to tell the world how much Freddie Mercury was enjoying his life at the time.

That mostly captured the rest of the band’s feelings as well, as Brian May recalls the opening night of Jazz’s first live performance ending with a wild, drunken backstage party. He also recalls how the rest of Queen wasn’t quite as confident no one should stop Mercury at the time, saying he started living dangerously around that time and ignoring advice to consider his wellbeing.


"Ella y Yo" — Aventura
19/20