Baby Shark is the most-watched video ever on YouTube with more than 10 billion views. If you leave aside the key change, it’s about as simple as a song can get. So, as musicians, can we learn anything from it?
First of all, if you’ve never seen it, here it is:
Obviously, a great deal of the popularity of this song is down to its catchy lyrics and dance moves, aimed fair and square at young children. Its popularity really boomed in 2016 when Korean company Pinkfong launched an animated version. It also became a regular in the sets of Korean bands like Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation and Black Pink.
Musically it’s easy to get to grips with. There’s a simple sequence of chords: G C Em D. The tune sticks on the note G throughout the G, C and Em – which for me is what makes it really infectious – and then drops down a semi-tone to F# for the D chord. The melody contains only four notes, all close together and all in just about anyone’s singing range.
The only novelty in the piece is the key shift up a semi-tone to Ab near the end. Now the chords go Ab Db Fm Eb, which is much less easy for the casual accompanist but does help to lift the song and keep it fresh.
Musically this is really simple. Lyrically it is really simple. As Paul McCartney has made clear in numerous interviews, the simple songs are often the best. And that’s an important lesson.