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Baby Shark

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"Baby Shark" is a children's song featuring a family of sharks. Popular as a campfire song, it has taken off since 2016, when Pinkfong, a South Korean education company, turned it into a video that spread virally through social media, online video, and radio. Pinkfong's version has become the most-viewed video on YouTube of all time in November 2020 with over 7.4 billion views.[1][2]

Origins and history

2018 photo of a four-year-old boy doing the "Baby Shark" dance

"Baby Shark" originated from a campfire song or chant. Some sources have mentioned traditional myths as a basis, others camping origins in the 20th century,[3] and some see it as possibly developed by camp counselors inspired by the movie Jaws.[4][5] It became a campfire song where each member of a family of sharks is introduced with different hand motions. Different versions of the song have the sharks hunting fish, eating a sailor, or killing people, who then go to heaven.[6]

Various entities have copyrighted original videos and sound recordings of the song, and some have trademarked merchandise based on their versions; however, according to The New York Times, the underlying song and characters are believed to be in the public domain.[7]

Alemuel version

A dance version of "Baby Shark" was popularized online in the 2007 YouTube video "Kleiner Hai" (German for Little Shark) and published by Alexandra Müller, also known by her stage name Alemuel.[8] This version is set to the theme of Jaws and tells the story of a baby shark who grows up and eats a swimmer.[9] The video quickly gained popularity[10] and EMI offered Alemuel [de] a record deal[11] and published the song accompanied by disco beats on May 30, 2008. The single peaked at 25th in the German charts[12] and at 21 in the Austrian charts.[13] Based on the single and the original video, the YouTube community created a popular music video. The German version of the song remains popular among German youth groups and multiple variations (also in different dialects of German[14]) have been published.

Johnny Only version

Johnny Only, a children's entertainer based in Upstate New York, was a DJ at a kids camp, and the counselors would regularly perform the song with their campers, acting out the hand gestures and going through each verse. Only saw how engaged and animated the campers were when "Baby Shark" was performed, so when he became a full-time children's entertainer, he released his own version.[15] This version was released in 2011, five years before another version of "Baby Shark" became a global phenomenon.[16]

Pinkfong version

Baby Shark and Pinkfong having a Baby Shark Live show at a mall with their fans.

The "Baby Shark" song was further popularized by a video produced by Pinkfong, an education brand within South Korean media startup SmartStudy. The original video for "Baby Shark" (Korean상어 가족; RRSang-eo Gajok; lit. shark family) was uploaded on November 26, 2015. All videos related to Pinkfong's song had garnered around 5 billion views by January 2020, making it the most-viewed educational video phenomenon of all time.[17][18] The most popular of these videos, "Baby Shark Dance", was uploaded on June 17, 2016, and went viral starting in 2017. On 2 November 2020, four years after it was uploaded, it became the most-viewed YouTube video of all time after surpassing Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" with 7.04 billion views.[1] On December 21, 2020, it became the first YouTube video to surpass 7.5 billion views. On February 3, 2021, "Baby Shark Dance" has received more views than the Earth's entire human population, according to various estimates.[19][20]

This version of the song was performed by then-10-year-old Korean-American singer Hope Segoine.[21] The music video featured two child actors, one of whom is child actress Elaine Johnston, a 9-year-old New Zealander of KoreanScottish descent.[22]

The song starts with bars from Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 to which music from the movie Jaws sounds similar. The song features a family of sharks which hunt a school of fish which escape to safety.[23] It became a viral video in Indonesia in 2017, and throughout the year it spread to many other Asian countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia. The related mobile app was among the top 10 most downloaded in the family apps category in South Korea, Bangladesh, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia in 2017.[24]

A speaker during the 10th Bikol Wikipedia anniversary in 2017 doing the "Baby Shark" dance
Participants do the "Baby Shark" dance at the 10th Bikol Wikipedia Anniversary AdNU, Philippines, November 2017

As of 2 November 2020, the most popular video of the "Baby Shark" song (labeled as "Baby Shark Dance"), uploaded on June 17, 2016,[25] has received over 7 billion views worldwide, making it the most-viewed video on YouTube.[26][1] Due to a 2013 change that the Billboard Hot 100 music charts made to account for online viewership of YouTube videos, "Baby Shark" broke into the Billboard Hot 100 at number 32 during the week of January 7, 2019.

Due to its popularity, this version of the song has spurred an online dance craze (sometimes referred to as the Baby Shark Challenge) while being cited as "the next big thing after the domination of Gangnam Style".[27] K-pop groups including Blackpink and Red Velvet have been credited with further spreading the viral song through their coverage of the song and dance, specifically on their featured TV shows and concerts.[28][29] The song began to go viral in the Western world in August 2018.[30]

In 2019, it was announced that Baby Shark would be adapted into Baby Shark's Big Show!, an animated television series aimed at preschoolers.[31][32] SmartStudy (the company that owns the Pinkfong brand) partnered with Nickelodeon, which premiered the show in the United States in December 2020. In South Korea, the Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) airs the cartoon.[33]

Controversies

While the English version just listed members of the shark family, the Korean version says Mommy Shark is "pretty", Daddy Shark is "strong", Grandma Shark is "kind", and Grandpa Shark is "cool". In January 2018, the South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun published a front-page editorial condemning these lyrics as sexist.[9][34]

In May 2018, the Liberty Korea Party started using "Baby Shark" to promote its candidates, prompting SmartStudy to threaten legal action over copyright infringement.[9][34] Prior to this, the Liberty Korea Party had contacted American children's entertainer Johnny Wright (a.k.a. Johnny Only) to inquire about permission, as he had published a similar version in 2011.[35][4] He had heard a version of "Baby Shark" 20 years earlier, and decided to make a children's version by removing any violent imagery from the song, instead focusing on the family. "I was the first one that did that," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "And basically Pinkfong's version does the same thing." Only has been working with a Korean copyright lawyer and the case is before the Korean courts.[3]

In July 2019, officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, were criticized for playing a continuous loop of "Baby Shark" throughout the night outside the Waterfront Lake Pavilion as a way of deterring vagrants.[36]

In October 2020, two former detention officers and a supervisor at an Oklahoma jail were charged with counts of misdemeanor cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy for torturing inmates by forcing them to listen to the song on a loop at loud volumes for an extended period of time.[37]

Legacy

In July 2019, Kellogg's announced that it had entered a partnership with Pinkfong to introduce a new Baby Shark cereal, a berry-flavored variant of Froot Loops with marshmallows added. It was first available at Sam's Club stores on August 17, and at Walmart in late September.[38]

In October 2019, a 75-minute stage musical based on the Pinkfong song and characters, titled Baby Shark Live, made its debut at Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. By this time, Pinkfong was also marketing a wide variety of merchandise based on their song and video, including clothing, bedding, toys and fishing tackle.[7]

"Baby Shark" has appeared in media like films and video games. In 2019 and 2020, the song was featured in The Angry Birds Movie 2 and Rubber and was playable in Just Dance 2020.[39][40][41] The following year, Pinkfong partnered with Bushiroad to include "Baby Shark" as a playable track in the English server of BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! from March 27 to April 17.[42]

In March 2020, Pinkfong released a new interactive version of the song that encourages children to properly wash their hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.[43]

Charts

Weekly charts

Chart (2018–2020) Peak
position
Australia Streaming Audio Visual Tracks (ARIA)[44] 40
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[45] 39
France (SNEP)[46] 162
Ireland (IRMA)[47] 22
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[48] 39
Scotland (OCC)[49] 12
Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)[50] 9
UK Singles (OCC)[51] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[52] 32
US Kid Digital Songs (Billboard)[53] 1
US LyricFind Global (Billboard)[54] 1
US Rolling Stone Top 100[55] 58

Year-end charts

Chart (2019) Position
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[56] 85
UK Singles (OCC)[57] 48
US Billboard Hot 100[58] 75
Chart (2020) Position
UK Singles (OCC)[59] 72

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[60] Gold 35,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[62] 11× Platinum 11,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Baby Shark duet

Weekly charts

Chart (2019–2020) Peak
position
US Rolling Stone Top 100[63] 73

Other performances

In September 2018, Ellen DeGeneres released her own version of the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and James Corden performed a version on The Late Late Show with James Corden.[64] The song was performed on The X Factor in early December 2018 because it was requested by Simon Cowell's four-year-old son Eric.[65] The song was also performed on Lithuania's X Faktorius by 16-year-old contestant Lukas Zazeckis.[citation needed] The song was also used in the commercial of Shopee in Southeast Asia.

Drag queen and contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race Yvie Oddly adapted the song for live lip-syncing performances, including a choreography that draws inspiration from voguing.[66]

Professional baseball player Gerardo Parra of the Washington Nationals, having discovered the song through his young daughter, adopted it as his walk-up music to energize the flagging team on June 19, 2019.[67] The theme became popular among both teammates and fans, who used the shark clap whenever the Nationals got a hit, and eventually, at every Parra at-bat; fans also began wearing shark costumes to the stadium.[68] A stuffed baby shark was seen attached to the dugout railing during the 2019 National League Championship Series, which the Nationals won over the St. Louis Cardinals.[69] The craze culminated with the Nationals defeating the Houston Astros in seven games to win the 2019 World Series; the connection was such that the Marine Band performed the song during the team's celebratory visit to the White House.[70]

Darts player Mikuru Suzuki has used the song as her entrance music.[71]

The song has also been performed by anti-government protesters in Lebanon during the 2019–20 Lebanese protests.[72][73]

Popular Australian children's music band The Wiggles released a version of the song in March 2020.

Other media

In November 2019, an officially licensed children's book based on the Pinkfong characters was being marketed by HarperCollins, while five unlicensed children's books offered by Scholastic Corporation had sold over one million copies.[7]

Baby Shark's Big Show!

Baby Shark's Big Show!
Hangul아기상어: 올리와 윌리엄
GenrePreschool
Based onPinkfong's "Baby Shark"[74]
Country of origin
  • South Korea
  • United States
Original languagesKorean
English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes1
Production
Executive producers
  • Gary Doodles
  • Tommy Sica
  • Kim Min-seok
  • Lee Ryan Seung-kyu
  • Bin Jeong
ProducerWhitney Ralls
Running time6 minutes
22 minutes ("All I Want for Fishmas" only)
Production companiesPinkfong
SmartStudy
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Release
Original networkEBS 1 (South Korea)
Nickelodeon (United States)
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio format5.1 surround sound
First shown inUnited States
Original releaseDecember 11, 2020 (2020-12-11) –
present

Baby Shark's Big Show! (Korean아기상어: 올리와 윌리엄) is a Korean-American animated television series based on the "Baby Shark" brand from the South Korean company Pinkfong.[75] SmartStudy, Pinkfong's parent company,[76] co-produces the show with Nickelodeon Animation Studio from the United States.[31][32]

In South Korea, Baby Shark's Big Show! debuted on the Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) on December 25, 2020.[74] In the United States, it premiered on Nickelodeon on December 11, 2020.[77]

Production

On June 7, 2020, Pinkfong announced the show on their official Instagram account.[76] On June 25, the Nick Jr. social media accounts[78] posted about the show.

Characters

Episodes

No.Title [79][80]U.S. air date [79][80]South Korean air dateProd.
code [79]
U.S. viewers
(millions)
1"All I Want for Fishmas"December 11, 2020 (2020-12-11)December 25, 20201010.72[81]
2"Crumb of a Clue"February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26)TBAShorts 101TBD
3"The Bunny Slug"February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26)TBAShorts 102TBD
4"Operation Cool Quest"February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26)TBAShorts 103TBD
5"No Time for Time Out"February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26)TBAShorts 104TBD
6"Knock it Off"February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26)TBAShorts 105TBD

See also

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External links