Baby Shark

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A four-year-old American boy doing the "Baby Shark" dance in September 2018

"Baby Shark" is a children's song about a family of sharks. Popular as a campfire song, it has taken off since 2016, spreading through social media, online video, and radio.

Origins[edit]

"Baby Shark" originated from a campfire song or chant. Some sources have mentioned traditional myths as a basis, others camping origins in the early 20th century,[1] and some see it as possibly developed by camp counselors inspired by the movie Jaws.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Alemuel version[edit]

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.[6] This version is set to the theme of Jaws and tells the story of a baby shark who grows up and eats a swimmer.[7] The video quickly gained popularity[8] and EMI offered Alemuel a record deal[9] and published the song accompanied by disco beats on May 30, 2008. The single peaked at 25th on of the German charts[10] and at 21 in the Austrian charts.[11] 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[12]) have been published.

Johnny Only version[edit]

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.[13] That was in 2011, five years before another version of "Baby Shark" became a global phenomenon.[14]

Pinkfong version[edit]

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

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 have garnered around 5 billion views as of January 2019, making it the most-viewed educational video phenomenon of all time.[15][16]

This version of the song was performed by then-10-year-old Korean-American singer Hope Segoine.[17] The music video featured two child actors, one of whom is child actress Elaine Johnston, a 9 year-old New Zealander of KoreanScottish descent.[18]

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 go hunt a school of fish which escape to safety.[19] 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.[20]

As of January 2020, the most popular video of the "Baby Shark" song (labeled as "Baby Shark Dance"), uploaded on June 17, 2016,[21] has received over 4.4 billion views worldwide, making it the third most viewed video on YouTube.[22][failed verification] 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 Baby Shark Challenge) while being cited[according to whom?] as "the next big thing after the domination of Gangnam Style". K-pop groups including Blackpink 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.[23][24] The song began to go viral in the Western world in August 2018.[25]

Controversies[edit]

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.[7][26]

In May 2018, the Liberty Korea Party started using "Baby Shark" to promote its candidates, prompting SmartStudy to threaten legal action over copyright infringement.[7][26] 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.[27][2] 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.[1]

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.[28]

Legacy[edit]

In July 2019, Kellogg's announced that it has 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.[29]

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.[5]

Baby Shark also appeared in the 2019 dance video game Just Dance 2020 as part of the main tracklist. The song appeared in The Angry Birds Movie 2.[citation needed]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2018–19) Peak
position
Australia Streaming Audio Visual Tracks (ARIA)[30] 40
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[31] 39
France (SNEP)[32] 162
Ireland (IRMA)[33] 22
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[34] 39
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[35] 12
Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[37] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[38] 32
US Kid Digital Songs (Billboard)[39] 1
US LyricFind Global (Billboard)[40] 1
US Rolling Stone Top 100[41] 58

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Position
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[42] 85
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[43] 48
US Billboard Hot 100[44] 75

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[45] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Baby Shark duet[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2019—2020) Peak
position
US Rolling Stone Top 100[46] 73

Other performances[edit]

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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[49]

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.[50] 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.[51] A stuffed baby shark was seen hanging from the dugout railing during the 2019 National League Championship Series, which the Nationals won over the St. Louis Cardinals.[52] 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.[53]

The song has also been performed by anti-government protesters in Lebanon during the 2019 Lebanese protests.[54][55]

Other media[edit]

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.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kinos-Goodin, Jesse. "The long, complicated history of Baby Shark — and the artist fighting for credit". CBC. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Reilly, Dan (January 24, 2019). "How Death, Dismemberment, and Jesus Helped 'Baby Shark' Become a Hit". Vulture. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  3. ^ Paskin, Willa (February 25, 2019). "Decoder Ring: 'Baby Shark'". Slate. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  4. ^ Valens, Ana (November 18, 2018). "'Baby Shark' reminds us of the past—and that's what makes it a great meme". The Daily Dot. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Sisario, Ben (November 14, 2019). "'Baby Shark' Devoured Your Brain. Your Wallet Is Harder to Swallow". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Chambers, Georgia (September 5, 2018). "Where did the Baby Shark song come from?". Evening Standard. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Pineros, Benjamin (September 18, 2018). "Sexism, German memes and right-wing chants: Behind the 'Baby Shark' viral sensation". Techly. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "Schnappt der "kleine Hai" nach "Schnappi"?". Bild. May 29, 2008.
  9. ^ "Alemuel Biografie". last fm. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". www.offiziellecharts.de (in German). Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Kleiner Hai feat. Alemuel - Kleiner Hai - dim dim..." austriancharts.at. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  12. ^ Hassendoerper. "WRS Baby Hai". YouTube. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  13. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkHdx0yWaow
  14. ^ "The long, complicated history of Baby Shark".
  15. ^ Radulovic, Petrana (January 30, 2019). "Baby Shark videos have amassed a record-breaking 5 billion views". Polygon. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Hann, Michael (September 3, 2018). "Scared of Baby Shark? A short guide to the year's most annoying song". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "Meet the voice behind 'Baby Shark' after it hits the Billboard Hot 100". YouTube. KTVB. January 10, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  18. ^ "Meet the nine-year-old Kiwi star at the centre of the viral Baby Shark song". TVNZ. October 2, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Sen, Indrani. "The story behind the astonishingly viral Baby Shark YouTube video". Quartzy. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "PINKFONG" – via Facebook.
  21. ^ "Baby Shark Dance | Sing and Dance! | Animal Songs | PINKFONG Songs for Children". June 17, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  22. ^ Adreena, Iylia (September 13, 2017). "Who Is Behind The Viral 'Baby Shark' Song And How Is It Taking Over Our Lives?". RojakDaily. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  23. ^ Ramirez, Elaine (September 1, 2017). "How This 'Baby Shark' Video Went Insanely Viral In Indonesia". Forbes.
  24. ^ Monde, Jeel (September 27, 2017). ""Baby Shark" Dance Craze From South Korea Dominates Online World". Phil News. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  25. ^ Sen, Indrani (August 27, 2018). "The story behind the astonishingly viral Baby Shark YouTube video". Quartz. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  26. ^ a b Ryall, Julian (September 5, 2018). "Viral children's song Baby Shark embroiled in row over sexism". The Independent. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  27. ^ Only, Johnny (September 25, 2011), Johnny Only - Baby Shark Song (Non-dismemberment version), retrieved August 31, 2019, Only, Johnny (April 3, 2012), Baby Shark Song Lyrics, retrieved August 31, 2019
  28. ^ "Florida City Hopes "Baby Shark" Song Will Drive Homeless Away". Spectrum News 13. July 17, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  29. ^ Fitzpatrick, Caitlyn (July 29, 2019). "'Baby Shark' Cereal Is Swimming Into Select Stores, and It's Filled With Marshmallows". Yahoo News. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  30. ^ "Streaming Audio Visual Tracks Chart". ARIA. October 22, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  31. ^ "Canadian Hot 100: March 2, 2019". Billboard. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  32. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés – SNEP (Week 32, 2019)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  33. ^ "IRMA – Irish Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  34. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  35. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  36. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker – Vecka 39, 28 september 2018". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  38. ^ "Chart Search: Pinkfong". Billboard. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  39. ^ Rutherford, Kevin (September 15, 2018). "Kid Digital Song Sales - September 15, 2018". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  40. ^ Rutherford, Kevin (October 26, 2018). "'Baby Shark' Song Leads LyricFind Global Chart". Billboard. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Songs". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  42. ^ "Canadian Hot 100 – Year-End 2019". Billboard. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  43. ^ "End of Year Singles Chart Top 100 – 2019". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  44. ^ "Hot 100 Songs – Year-End 2019". Billboard. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  45. ^ "British single certifications – Pinkfong – Baby Shark". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 30, 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Baby Shark in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  46. ^ "Top 100 Songs". Rolling Stone. November 28, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  47. ^ "James Corden, Ellen, and The Internet: Why is Everyone Dancing to 'Baby Shark' Nursery Jingle?". News18. October 3, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  48. ^ Dosani, Rishma (December 2, 2018). "Simon Cowell's son Eric makes X Factor debut as Baby Shark opens final show". Metro. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  49. ^ Wicklund, Jasyn (December 28, 2018), Yvie Oddly Baby Shark Mix - Tracks Denver 12/27/2018, retrieved April 4, 2019
  50. ^ Allen, Scott (October 21, 2019). "How 'Baby Shark' became the anthem of the Nationals' 2019 season and World Series run". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  51. ^ Shaikin, Bill (October 5, 2019). "Nationals' Gerardo Parra starts stadium craze with 'Baby Shark' song". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  52. ^ Shea, John (October 15, 2019). "How Gerardo Parra became Nationals' inspiration after Giants cut him". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  53. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOLz2and_sk
  54. ^ Alameddine, Rabih (October 22, 2019). "Opinion | 'Baby Shark' and the Sounds of Protest in Lebanon". The New York Times.
  55. ^ "'The Revolution Is Lit': Jubilant Lebanon Uprising Fueled By Music, Dancing, and... 'Baby Shark'". Common Dreams.

External links[edit]