"Baby Shark" is an aquatic adventure popularized by Pinkfong, a Korean-based brand that produces educational sing-a-longs and dance videos for children. The catchy jingle introduces a family of sharks who are getting ready to hunt their prey but, to the relief of all the toddlers singing along, the little fishes escape the hungry jaws of the shark clan.
The song is based on a campfire sing-a-long about a swimmer who loses his limbs to a shark and eventually dies. The singers use hand motions to mimic the shark's actions and the victim's demise, playing the harp and fashioning devil's horns with their fingers depending on whether he ends up in heaven or hell. There are several variations, with some changing the swimmer to a surfer who comes back to life as a baby shark.
The tune's origins are unknown, but it gained popularity at camps and preschools in the mid-2000s. In the 2007 book American Band, about high school marching bands, author Kristen Laine explains how some bandleaders used the song as a stretching exercise for their students.
Pinkfong uploaded the video to its official YouTube channel in November 2015 and it started making waves across southeast Asia before becoming a worldwide phenomenon in the summer of 2018. The clip - which reached the Top 40 of YouTube's most-viewed videos ever with over 1.6 billion views (more than 3 billion across all platforms) - also inspired a social media craze.
The "Baby Shark Challenge" featured adults, mostly parents of shark-obsessed toddlers, emulating the simple dance moves from the video. Some fans took the stunt to a new level by copying the "In My Feelings
" challenge, which featured Drake followers jumping out of their vehicles and dancing to his hit single. Instead, "Baby Shark" devotees dressed up like Great Whites and jumped from their still-moving cars to dance along to the kids' tune.
The song opens with ominous strings reminiscent of John Williams' Jaws theme to tease the shark family's arrival, but the snippet was actually taken from the fourth movement of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9.
The song inspired the Pinkfong Baby Shark Live Musical in 2017, which has Daddy Shark enlisting Pinkfong, a prince from the planet Staria, to help find the missing Baby Shark.
On January 12, 2019, this song cracked the Hot 100 for the first time, debuting at #32 thanks to huge streaming numbers.
In 2019, "Baby Shark" became a strange rallying cry for the Washington Nationals baseball team. Early in the season, they were struggling with a 14-22 record when they acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra, who used the song as his walk-up music because his 2-year-old daughter loved it. The team produced a video that was shown before his at-bats with Parra doing the hand motions; the crowd loved it and joined in the fun, doing the "baby shark" every time Parra came to the plate.
The team developed some chemistry and started winning. "Baby Shark" became part of their ritual - when a batter got a hit, he would do the shark gesture on base. The Nationals ended up winning the World Series, with "Baby Shark" credited for helping bring a lighthearted energy to the team. Unfortunately, we didn't get to hear the song during the World Series after a Nats win - they were the first team in history to win it without claiming a victory at home (they won four games in Houston against the Astros).
James Corden uploaded a film of South Korean boy band BTS singing "Baby Shark"
in a never-before-seen scene of their February 2020 appearance on Carpool Karaoke
. During the clip, uploaded on June 8, 2020, Corden asks the group if they ever break out into song when traveling; they reply with a rendition of "Baby Shark," before switching it up to LMFAO's "Shots
Korean-American singer Hope Segoine recorded the vocals for the Pinkfong version of the children's rhyme when she was 10 years old.
"Baby Shark Dance" overtook Luis Fonsi's "Despacito
" as the most viewed video on YouTube on November 2, 2020, when the clip hit 7,042,967,886 views, passing Fonsi's 2017 single.