"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, and some see it as possibly developed by camp counselors inspired by the movie Jaws. 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.
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.
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. This version is set to the theme of Jaws and tells the story of a baby shark who grows up and eats a swimmer. The video quickly gained popularity and EMI offered Alemuel a record deal and published the song accompanied by disco beats on May 30, 2008. The single peaked at 25th on of the German charts and at 21 in the Austrian charts. 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) 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. That was in 2011, five years before another version of "Baby Shark" became a global phenomenon.
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" (Korean: 상어 가족; RR: Sang-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[update], making it the most-viewed educational video phenomenon of all time.
This version of the song was performed by then-10-year-old Korean-American singer Hope Segoine. The music video featured two child actors, one of whom is child actress Elaine Johnston, a 9 year-old New Zealander of Korean–Scottish descent.
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. 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.
As of January 2020[update], the most popular video of the "Baby Shark" song (labeled as "Baby Shark Dance"), uploaded on June 17, 2016, has received over 4.4 billion views worldwide, making it the third most viewed video on YouTube.[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. The song began to go viral in the Western world in August 2018.
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.
In May 2018, the Liberty Korea Party started using "Baby Shark" to promote its candidates, prompting SmartStudy to threaten legal action over copyright infringement. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Australia Streaming Audio Visual Tracks (ARIA)||40|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||39|
|New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)||39|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||12|
|Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)||9|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||6|
|US Billboard Hot 100||32|
|US Kid Digital Songs (Billboard)||1|
|US LyricFind Global (Billboard)||1|
|US Rolling Stone Top 100||58|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||85|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||48|
|US Billboard Hot 100||75|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||600,000|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
Baby Shark Duet
|US Rolling Stone Top 100||73|
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. 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. The song was also performed on Lithuania's X Faktorius by 16-year-old contestant Lukas Zazeckis. The song was also used in the commercial of Shopee in Southeast Asia.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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