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.
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.”
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.
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.