This week, “Baby Shark” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 32. The song’s success is no surprise, nor anything altogether new: The YouTube video has 2.1 billion views, 20.8 million of which are from the last week, as Billboard told the New York Times. Other parents may blame the song’s quantifiable success on their preschool-aged children’s requests, but I’ll go ahead and say it: I love “Baby Shark.” In my home, many of the song’s viewings are my own.
Now that you’ve listened — or re-listened — how do you feel? A little lighter? Blessed with a touch more inexplicable joy? Good.
Or do you feel the same, your grumpy, crappy adult self? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and try again:
You can watch the screen if you want. The kids acting like sharks are cute; the animated fish and animals are too. But to truly be touched by “Baby Shark,” I recommend listening to the music — which is delightfully vigorous, bright and swift — with headphones on, staring out the window of a moving vehicle. When the song ends, you should feel different: more like dancing, with an increased likelihood of holding the hand of someone you love. Less like your to-do list and emails and running late.
My theory is that one of the reasons our kids love “Baby Shark” is that this is often how they feel. “Baby Shark” provides an anthem for a child’s worldview, a reinforcement of the imperative to seize blind happiness whenever we come across it — such as during a 2-minute-and-16-second-long song
Many parents have, somewhat understandably, denied the benevolent powers of “Baby Shark.” They’ve called it “stupid” or indicated they’d like it to cease playing or wondered who played the song enough for it to reach the the Billboard Hot 100. In the very first line of Daniel Victor’s piece for the Times, he calls it “as infectious as anthrax.” But I hope that more of you come to see this song for what is, or can be, if you let it: a brief invitation to unaccountable happiness, in a terrible and ugly and often sad world.