There are two words and two words only that you should never mention to new parents. No, I'm not talking about "poop explosion", I'm talking about something a lot more catastrophic: I'm talking about "Baby Shark".
"Baby Shark" started off as an innocent enough jingle before becoming one of the biggest viral phenomena of all time.
Children all over the world adore the Baby Shark song and parents can now be divided in two types: those who enjoy singing along to it with their little cherubs and those who would rather stab themselves with a fork than play that song even just one more time.
What is the Baby Shark song?
"Baby Shark", as we know it, was created by Pinkfong, a Korean startup that creates video content for children, with more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube alone.
The channel produces a number of sing-alongs and dances for children, in a series of educational videos to help children learn with cartoon Pinkfong, a prince from the planet Staria.
The Baby Shark song was first released by Pinkfong in November 2015 and became a viral hit over summer last year - first over southeast Asia, and then throughout the world, including New Zealand.
The origins of the song can be traced a little further back to an early 1900s children's rhyme and then to a German version called Kleiner Hai, by Alemuel, from about 10 years ago.
The thing about the German version, which you can watch below, is that it's a little... hmm, terrifying. It's no wonder it didn't become a viral hit among children.
It was then translated to English and several versions of it can be found online. However, those versions were, much like the German one, less than happy. In a 2012 English version, one of the singers loses an arm to a shark and then dies.
This brings us to Pinkfong. After years of obscurity, the South Korean company brought Baby Shark into the spotlight, complete with bright colours, cute kids, a catchy tune and a proper happy ending.
That seems to be what it needed to become a hit: Pinkfong's YouTube video of the Baby Shark dance has had more than 1.6 billion views (and judging by the number of times it plays in my household, I assume the stats would be split into a ridiculously high number of views per YouTube user as well). All its various official versions combined mean that Baby Shark has been watched 3.3 billion times. It is, in fact, the 35th most-watched video on YouTube alone, and does pretty well on other platforms such as Amazon and even Spotify.
The song, for babies and toddlers, is about the Shark Family, made up of Mama Shark, Papa Shark, Grandma Shark, Grandpa Shark and, of course, the infamous Baby Shark.
A search on YouTube will generate dozens of versions of the song, from animated versions to dance challenges featuring actual grownups dancing Baby Shark (sometimes with no other children around).
There's even been merchandise made, with a number of outlets worldwide selling matching Shark Family t-shirts for the whole family.
The evolution of Baby Shark: The Baby Shark Challenge
Once the song went viral, people on the internet did to it what they do to everything: they ruined it.
Okay, maybe not quite. But they took it from the realm of innocent children's songs into the realm of "adults embarrassing themselves online for any prospective job employer to see", which I guess is a version of "ruining it".
In recent weeks, people all over the world have begun uploading footage of themselves doing the Baby Shark dance outside a moving car. This is a version of the "In My Feelings Challenge", which originally started with people dancing outside their cars to Drake's song and then uploaded it online.
Facebook is inundated with #babysharkchallenge videos.
It's a little over simplistic to call it stupid, though, as, in reality, is just a bunch of parents bonding with their kids over stuff the kids like. However, some more level-headed people are asking adults taking on the challenge to be cautious as - and apparently this needs to be said - it can be dangerous to jump out of a moving car to perform a dance, sometimes even while wearing a shark costume.
The challenge really took off last month when online celebrity and former Playboy model Amanda Cerny performed the dance on Indonesian TV.
A Baby Shark Fun Fact to share at the next coffee group
The opening bars of the Baby Shark song are actually a snatch of the string section from the fourth movement of Czech composer Antonín Leopold Dvořák's Symphony No. 9.
Basically, don't ever let anyone tell you you don't expose your child to classical music.
Additionally, to explain the magnitude of Baby Shark as a global phenomenon: it has been translated into 10 languages so far and has led to the creation of dozens of memes that parents worldwide can relate to.
Versions of Baby Shark you should check out for when your child begs you to play it one more time and you need at least a slight variation in tune before your ears explode
Pēpi Mako, a Baby Shark cover in Te Reo:
Special kudos to 91-year-old Nana Iris for taking on the challenge:
Halloween Baby Shark is seasonal but a goodie:
Baby Shark non stop for 60 whole minutes for when you really need your kids to give you a break:
Sorry you won't be able to think about anything else today. Doo doo doo doo doo ...
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