Song for a baby

If you haven’t already contributed to the 1.8 billion YouTube views of the song “Baby Shark,” watch it now. Sorry in advance: It’ll get stuck in your head rather quickly.

What is this earworm and where did it come from? Who is behind this viral hit — and what kind of cash are they rolling in now that everyone and their kid knows the song? Who are those kids, and who came up with that brilliant key change?

We reached out to the creators to find out more. As it turns out, the question of who created it is so complicated, numerous parties are fighting over the ownership rights.

The History

The very basic words of “Baby Shark” looks to be inspired by an old nursery rhyme. There’s a version in France called “Bebe Requin” and in Germany called “Kleiner Hai,” and the latter video — a grainy YouTube video of a German woman, Alexandra Müller, singing the song — laid the foundation for the poem’s success. Müller’s version was given a techno remix and became a flash-in-the-pan viral hit in Germany.

Although today her website is down and social media sites nonexistent, Müller saw brief viral fame in Germany in 2007. She went by the stage name “Alemuel,” released an album and toured Europe.

From there, things get tricky. Today two parties find themselves tangled in a copyright lawsuit over who created the song, though both tell me they had no knowledge of Müller’s version prior to recording.

Johnny Only, a kids’ musician with a YouTube page touting a modest 4,360 subscribers, claims to be the originator of “Baby Shark.” He says he knew the song from performing at campgrounds, where the song was rarely written down “since half the fun was improvising the lyrics and motions.” Since he performs for a younger audience, Only says he changed the lyrics to be more kid-friendly and transformed the “chanted version of ‘Baby Shark’ into the musical cohesiveness of a song complete with background music, melody and harmony. I added my musical style, a musical ‘bridge,’ driving beat, guitar, waves and change of tempo.”

Meanwhile, Pinkfong — a producer of children’s entertainment, similar to Nickelodeon in Korea — released a version of the rhyme in November 2015, which has now racked up nearly 2 billion views.

According to Kevin Seunghyun Yoon, marketing manager at Pinkfong’s parent company, SmartStudy, Pinkfong merely took an old nursery rhyme and added catchy beats to it. “We focus on finding rhymes that are easy for children to sing along ,” he says. “In the planning stage, we put weight on how easy the rhyme is for children to sing along, and how natural it would be when the rhyme is actually spoken out by children.” He adds that they then put a “fresh twist” on a “traditional singalong chant by adding upbeat rhythms and fresh melody.”

Pinkfong’s version is simpler than Johnny Only’s. There’s no bridge, it’s a little easier to sing and there’s even a chord change, adding a suspenseful minor sixth.

The Initial Release

After seeing the song gain popularity at his live shows, Johnny Only uploaded the song to YouTube in 2011. “The video was filmed in my sister’s house and her pool as an idea for a fun family activity,” he says. “At that time, I didn’t know much about copyright law, and I didn’t think that my version of ‘Baby Shark’ song could be protected under the copyright law.”

Pinkfong argues that its direction is more than just adding catchy tunes. The company is trying to create kid-friendly K-Pop — a massively popular genre of music in Korea that’s slowly finding footing in the U.S. “Pinkfong’s songs aren’t like your everyday nursery rhymes,” Yoon says.

Going Viral

Johnny Only may have published it first, but Pinkfong’s song is unquestionably more popular. Yoon tells me the video’s success was unexpected. Pinkfong’s version was recorded in November 2015 and uploaded as just one of 4,000 songs and stories they produced. “Baby Shark” garnered several million views and didn’t stand out much from the rest. The company believes it “really went viral when teenagers and adults started catching on,” says Yoon, “thanks to the #BabySharkChallenge.”

The #BabySharkChallenge, according to Yoon, was a happy accident. Pinkfong had nothing to do with it starting, but K-Pop superstars certainly did. “Because of its catchy tune and fun dance moves, fans across Asia began to upload videos of themselves dancing to Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’ with a hashtag #BabySharkChallenge,” says Yoon. “Even K-pop stars like Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, Black Pink, Got7 and Amanda Cerny have joined the challenge.” (Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet and Black Pink have more than 15.6 million Youtube subscribers combined.)

The rest is history. The song appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Late Show With James Corden and even Kylie Jenner’s Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

maaamaa shark dooo doo doo dooo

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Sep 5, 2018 at 5:46pm PDT

“The viral campaign was very organic,” Yoon explains, before asking me to “check out the link to our Thank You video,” where the company enlists the original child actors to say thanks to all the #BabySharkChallengers for making the song a huge hit.

After all, the song helped put Pinkfong on the map. Yoon says that over the past 12 months alone, its YouTube page has generated 5.7 billion views and 13 million subscribers.

The production company is taking advantage of the song’s success, recreating more than 100 versions of the songs in 11 languages, “as well as different beats such as EDM, Halloween, Valentine’s, Christmas carol, etc.,” Yoon says. Plus, the company is working on “licensing, merchandising and live shows around the world and will be launching long-form content such as Pinkfong Wonderstar 3D animation series for linear TV, as well as the Baby Shark movie.”

Yoon adds that he’s unable to disclose how much revenue the company has made from the video due to company policy, but he says the song is ranked as “No. 1 children’s music on iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play and Amazon,” as well as “No. 33 in the list of All-Time Most Viewed YouTube Videos.”

So what happened to Johnny Only while the song was going viral? What was it like to watch a production company take your tune and spin it into viral gold? He doesn’t remember exactly when he recognized Pinkfong’s version, “but when it started to become popular, I thought that it was very similar to my song.”

Though he concedes that “the current popularity of ‘Baby Shark’ comes from the popularity of Pinkfong’s version,” he says, it’s “really cool to see that the song is worldwide popular and it’s really fun to know that I played a part in that.

“But also, I’m sorry that many people think that ‘Baby Shark’ song was wholly created by Pinkfong. That part makes me feel kind of sad.”

Johnny is currently suing SmartStudy for copyright infringement, but whatever the courts finally decide, the song has already done its damage.

Seriously, someone send me a catchy song to get this goddamn song… out… my… head do do do do do do…

Quinn Myers

Quinn Myers is a staff writer at MEL. According to his editor, you can find him “lurking in the darkest corners of the internet.”

Did ‘Baby Shark’ violate copyright law? A New York entertainer thinks so

CLOSE CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINEMAILMORE

Johnny Only’s fans don’t always call him by name.

To some, Only is known as “the Baby Shark Guy.” After years of performing his own version of the popular “Baby Shark” tune, the New York-based children’s entertainer and DJ, whose legal name is Jonathan Wright, became almost synonymous with the song.

So, when a Korean YouTube video of the “Baby Shark” song went viral, it sounded familiar.

A little too familiar.

With the help of Korean attorney K.S. Chong – known for representing pop star PSY, of the hit “Gagnam Style,” in a 2015 real estate battle – Only is suing Korean entertainment company SmartStudy, the owner of “Baby Shark” creator Pinkfong, and claiming copyright infringement.

While the text of the lawsuit is in Korean and has not been translated to English, Chong said the suit is seeking damage compensation and demands Pinkfong stop the infringement.

If damage compensation is awarded, it will be determined by the judge after the hearings are closed, Chong said.

Learn more about Johnny Only: Johnny Only encourages parent and child creativity

In an emailed statement, a communications representative from SmartStudy responded to the suit, stating “Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’ is based on a traditional singalong chant which has passed to public domain. Produced by SmartStudy, we are the producer and publisher, we own and control 100% of Pinkfong Baby Shark.”

Chong said the case is now underway at the Seoul Central District Court. The first hearing was in July, and the Korea Copyright Commission will soon review the two songs.

“On a personal level, it has been a bit weird,” Only said in an email. “Especially because I feel like I am the one who started it.”

A version of ‘Baby Shark’ without the dismemberment

Only thinks it was several decades ago when he first heard “Baby Shark.” He was entertaining at a camp for pre-teens and teens, and listened to the campers sing the popular song.

Later, he became a toddler music entertainer. But he couldn’t add the camp version to his repertoire. It just wasn’t appropriate for his audience.

While versions of the song vary, it’s traditionally gory.

“The whole point of the song is the scary shark attack. The narrator typically loses limbs and dies from it,” Only said. “There would be a verse and motions for every part of the attack.”

The chant is typically sung without music, and includes bloody details in its lyrics that detail a shark attack. Lyrics like “lost an arm do do do do do do” and “lost a leg do do do do do do” are often sung with children waving their arms and legs around.

“The object of the chant was to improvise details and motions,” Only said. “For example, the counselors might break the campers up into groups and ask them to come up with their own version and then perform for each other.”

While entertaining toddlers, Only found the importance of songs incorporating motions along with the lyrics. So, as he wanted to share the song with younger audiences, Only created a version of his own.

“I realized that the baby shark chant could be made into a toddler-aged children’s song if I changed the words and added music,” he said. “So I did.”

Only said he published his version of “Baby Shark” on Sept. 1, 2011.

A YouTube video of Only singing the song beside a pool with a group of children is dated Sept. 25, 2011, and is labeled the “non-dismemberment version.”

Only replaced the gory lyrics with lines including “saw a fin do do do do do do,” “I swam faster do do do do do do,” “lifeguard running do do do do do do” and “saved my life do do do do do do.” As of Aug. 22, Only’s version had 117,750 views on YouTube. Comments have been disabled for the video.

The single is alsoavailable to purchase for 99 cents on Amazon music and iTunes, or included with the purchase of Only’s “Banana Ram Sam Interactive” album. (The album is $8.99 on Amazon Music and $9.99 on iTunes).

Fast forward to 2015.

Pinkfong, a media company that produces educational and entertaining content for children, released a short animated YouTube video featuring its version of “Baby Shark” on Nov. 25, 2015.

As of Aug. 22, the YouTube had 222,996,356 views.

The song was uploaded again in June 2016, this time labeled “Baby Shark Dance,” and featuring people doing motions that correspond with the lyrics. That video accumulated a whopping 3,280,102,322 views, as of Aug. 22. In July, Digital Trends listed the video as the eighth-most watched YouTube video.

It wasn’t until the fall 2018 that the video made it its way to American mainstream entertainment and became a viral hit – the catchy tune seemingly impossible to get out of parents’ heads as their kids continued to click “play.”

While the lyrics are different from Only’s, they are also less gory. “Let’s go hunt do do do do do do,” “run away do do do do do do” and “safe at last do do do do do do” replace the typically graphic lyrics.

And Only found the two tunes to be strikingly similar.

“The shortened length, the key, the addition of instrumentation, the type of instrumentation, the rhythm, the tempo, the sanitation of the lyrics for toddler age audiences, the tempo change mid song, the splash at the beginning,” Only lists the similarities. “Even some of the harmony styles and things like adding a lower voice when they introduce daddy shark.”

From YouTube hit to cultural phenomenon

Pinkfong’s “Baby Shark” is not just a YouTube hit. It’s been ingrained into our culture.

Daytime talk show host Ellen Degeneres mashed the theme of “The Ellen Show” with the tune, earning laughs on the show and more than 4 million hits on YouTube.

“Late Late Show” host James Corden also parodied the single, recruiting stars Sophie Turner and Josh Groban – as well as backup dancers and a gospel choir – to help him sing a slowed-down version of the song. This version earned over 9 million YouTube hits.

Two-year-old Zoe Turner rose to internet fame in October of last year after her mother, Cryssy Turner, captured her adorable efforts to get her Amazon Alexa to play “Baby Shark.”

As the Alexa continues to misunderstand Zoe and cue up the wrong tunes, Zoe gets frustrated.

But, listen closely.

Before Alexa plays Pinkfong’s version — the one Zoe was hoping for — she plays Johnny Only’s single.

But Zoe didn’t want to hear Only. She wanted Pinkfong.

A YouTube video capturing this went viral, earning the tot nearly 2 million hits on YouTube and even a spot on The Today Show.

Netflix has been rumored to carry short videos based on the song; however, those rumors were never confirmed.

More: Are the creators of ‘Baby Shark’ bringing videos to Netflix?

But in June, Nickelodeon announced that a deal has been struck with SmartStudy to create a new animated TV series based on the song.

“At the heart of any popular piece of content is a terrific character, and we have a great opportunity to further explore the world of Baby Shark and follow this family through some great animated adventures on Nickelodeon,” said Ramsey Naito, executive vice president of Nickelodeon Animation, in a statement to USA TODAY.

And Round Room Live and Pinkfong recently announced that they would join to launch “Baby Shark Live!,” an immersive concert experience. The tour is slated for more than 100 U.S. and Canadian markets, beginning in the fall. The first leg of the tourschedule was announced July 9.

Baby Shark merchandise is already available on the tour’s website, with a tour hoodie on sale in multiple colors for $45.

More: ‘Baby Shark’ obsessed kids? Here is what you can buy and doo-doo-doo with them

A legal battle

Only claims that Pinkfong never contacted him with permission to use what he is calling his version of “Baby Shark.”

During his legal battle, Only has learned that when an artist publishes a version of a traditional or public domain piece, it represents a derivative version.

“The changes the artist has made are protected by copyright,” Only said.

While it’s not Only’s “Baby Shark” that has seen famous parodies and national tours, Only admits there’s been an uptick in interest around his “Baby Shark.”

“There are certainly quite a few posts on my YouTube videos in Korean. I think at least as many as there are from the USA,” Only said. “Many of them give their opinion about whether there has been infringement. There has undeniably been a sharp increase in interest around the song.”

CLOSE

Baby Shark (doo doo do doo do doo), explained

Whether or not you have children in your life, it may seem like the “Baby Shark” song is everywhere.

It’s an earworm. It’s a dance craze. It’s a meme.

And as of this week, The Best of Baby Shark has topped the kids’ album charts and landed at No. 28 on the overall album sales chart. The 17-track album includes the wildly popular, wildly catchy shark song and a few of its most popular variants (Halloween Sharks, Christmas Baby Shark).

It’s not the first full Baby Shark album to receive an English-language release from the kids’ song production company Pinkfong; that honor goes to last year’s double album, Pinkfong’s 50 Best Hits: Baby Shark and More.

But it’s the first to top the kids’ album charts as well as place on the more mainstream album chart, buoyed by the recent groundbreaking entry of the song itself into the Billboard Hot 100 in January.

Not only did the infectious bop about a family of toothy fish make it onto the chart, putting it in league with a very short list of children’s songs throughout history, it also scored the highest debut of the January 12 edition of the Hot 100, popping up at No. 32.

I guess you could say it made a splash. (Sorry.)

But how did we wind up here? How did this little ditty-that-could make the jump swim from toddler YouTube to the Billboard charts? Are you ready to see how a meme becomes a quiet cultural phenomenon? Then grab your fins and let’s go hunt (doo doo do doo do doo)!

“Baby Shark” is an addictive delight

If you’ve never heard of “Baby Shark” and have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re in for a treat, albeit a ridiculously addictive one. Be warned: The following tune will be stuck in your head for days, but I promise it’ll make you smile:

The “Baby Shark Dance” video above has been a global hit among the under-5 set — and, by extension, their parents — since it was first posted to YouTube in 2016, and it’s easy to see why. For one thing, the titular shark dance is appealingly simple, something even the youngest toddler and surliest adult can do.

It’s also visually enticing as well as ridiculously catchy: The video is well made, the kids are adorable, and the cheery, infectious song — doo doo do doo do doo! — meshes perfectly with the whimsical mix of animation and live action.

All of these factors have made “Baby Shark Dance” a bona fide YouTube hit. The video currently stands at nearly 2.2 billion views, making it one of the top 25 most-viewed videos in YouTube history.

“I know a lot of parents who use it as a bribe or a pacifying technique,” journalist, mom, and former Vox colleague Elisabeth Dickson told me. “It’s like toddler catnip. Bright, moving colors; cute little kids; catchy, repetitive lyrics. I would bet anything, though, that a lot of the views are repeat views from the same users.” While this is anecdotal evidence, it’s definitely true that there’s a lulling, hypnotic quality to looping the video; I’ve been known to listen to the 2-hour compilation version at times, and I’m still here to tell the tale.

What’s more, “Baby Shark Dance” fits in with a larger theme of wholesome internet trends, in that it’s simple and bright and turns sharks into cute and cuddly sea companions.

So it’s no wonder that Baby Shark has also become a wholesome internet meme, bringing together people all over the world to do the “Baby Shark Dance” and the “Baby Shark Challenge” (which are the same thing). In fact, as far as wholesome memes go, this is one of the wholesomest, in that it’s harmless and fun, and directly concerned with bringing people together instead of, say, being cynical or edgy, or snarking about the world. (At least if you discount the ecological havoc caused by allowing cute kids to ruthlessly invade the territory of these poor animated sharks, possibly putting everyone involved in danger.)

But memes rarely have a single source, and while there’s a single definitive version of the Baby Shark song that’s swum into the public consciousness, it has many predecessors.

Baby Shark’s history contains multitudes

The “Baby Shark” song itself seems to have no definitive origin point: Some versions of it are a longtime staple at youth summer camps and scouting retreats, and there are infinite variations on its basic premise, including one version where a surfer loses an arm and has to undergo CPR. Another version that dates to at least 2008 online includes the subject dying at the end.

“My husband and I sang it on a bus on the way back from a wedding and one of the people who was singing along knew the song from, like, camp,” Dickson told me. “She’d never even heard of . And I was like, ’What? How?’ because it’s such a cornerstone of my life now .”

For the primogenitor “canonical” version of the internet-famous “Baby Shark Dance,” as it were, we can thank a fun-loving German woman named Alexandra Müller, a.k.a. Alemuel. On January 15, 2007, from the comfort of an armchair, she gave the world this viral video:

In German, this rhyme is a “singspiel” — a sung nursery rhyme — known as “Kleiner Hai” (Little Shark). So it was probably already known to most of Alemuel’s German viewers. But her video sparked a viral craze that ultimately spawned an official release of the song 15 months later, in May 2008, as well as, according to one German media outlet, around 400 spinoff videos of classrooms and other groups performing the accompanying dance.

And as you can see from the following 2012 version, the song and the dance have always pretty much existed as a pair — which makes sense, since a lot of the fun of Baby Shark lies in switching back and forth between little shark gestures and big shark gestures:

Fast forward to YouTube circa 2016, when international corporations (like the overwhelmingly popular Bollywood channel T-Series) were starting to slowly shift YouTube’s culture away from individual, grassroots vloggers and toward a mix of automated and mass-produced content.

These videos flooded YouTube’s algorithms and racked up billions of views, and children’s videos were — and continue to be — among the most popular examples. One reason that mass-produced kid’s videos have since become so successful is that their young target audience clearly finds their endless repetition appealing. Meanwhile, that same repetition makes them easy and cheap to produce, while still providing appeal and visual stimulation.

Among the most popular of YouTube’s kid-centric mega-channels is Pinkfong. Overseen by a Korean education and entertainment company, Pinkfong has more than 14 million subscribers and has garnered more than 7 billion views across all of its videos. But more than 2 billion of those views come from “Baby Shark Dance.” Pinkfong uploaded the video on June 17, 2016, and although it obviously wasn’t the first variant of the Baby Shark song and dance on the internet, the video’s high production values, its cute kids, and its fun, colorful design set it apart and helped make it into a hit.

In the intervening years, Pinkfong itself has churned out a litany of Baby Shark offshoots; but its legs as a meme really come from what the rest of the internet has done with the song, with a push into the mainstream as an unexpected viral pop sensation.

After steadily building throughout 2018, the Baby Shark craze shows no real signs of stopping

Baby Shark’s first brush with all-ages, worldwide fame came in 2017, when it became massively popular in Indonesia. It spawned an Indonesian dance craze that saw families and communities around the country doing versions of the dance.

And in 2018, the #BabySharkChallenge became a huge meme across TikTok as the app burgeoned in popularity, with a popular remixed version of the song going viral.

This also meant that Pinkfong’s “Baby Shark” gained even more mainstream attention: It wasn’t just a song for kids anymore. In August 2018, it made its way onto the UK Top 40 charts, and in September, James Corden featured it on The Late Late Show. “Once in a lifetime, a song comes along that defines a generation,” he quipped.

By the end of October, the song had floated onto Billboard’s top streaming songs chart for the first time — at which point it had already spent more than six weeks atop Billboard’s Kid Digital chart.

In November, this was happening:

BABY SHARK pic.twitter.com/AekpOQBxGu

— Rhet (@rhet_hailey) November 23, 2018

And in December, the song even made a cameo appearance in YouTube’s annual year-end Rewind video. (The 2018 edition of the video was historically disliked, but we won’t hold that against the sharks.)

All along the way, Pinkfong’s “Baby Shark Dance” video spawned offshoots in the form of flash mobs, covers, and, inevitably, many song variants. The most famous of these is perhaps the weird and eerie “Johny Johny Yes Papa” mashup meme that briefly took over the internet last summer, but one of the most recent popular riffs is a heavy metal edition by Norwegian guitarist Leo Moracchioli, who is known for his metal arrangements of pop songs:

So the Baby Shark song is clearly here to stay, having firmly established itself in many corners of the culture, online and off, in all its incessant repetitive glory. And yet, although it might seem to many like Baby Shark has reached a saturation point, a certain level of omnipresent universal existence, Dickson points out that in many respects, it’s still a niche.

“A lot of my friends without kids don’t even know what it is,” she told me.

If that’s the case, Baby Shark still has a lot of cultural permeation to do. So the next time you hear the song and you’re tempted to run away (doo doo do doo do doo), why not grab a friend instead, join in the dance, and help it along?

Baby Shark: Why did this song about a family of sharks go viral?

To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on. WATCH: Kids tell us why they think ‘Baby Shark’ is a hit

It might not have been sung by anyone as famous as Ariana Grande, Drake or Calvin Harris.

But that hasn’t stopped children’s song Baby Shark from joining hits from these artists in the UK Top 40.

The catchy tune has so far managed to rack up more than 1.6 billion views on YouTube.

These views, and people listening on streaming services, has this week pushed the song into the charts.

Baby Shark has entered the UK Official Charts at number 37 – just above This Is Me by Keala Settle and I Like It by Cardi B.

Aside from the song’s catchy lyrics and funky dance moves, how the children’s song Baby Shark managed to get so popular is certainly a puzzler.

Here at Newsround HQ we’ve been asking: Who is baby shark? Where did the song come from? And why has it gone viral?

How did a song about a baby shark go viral?

Baby Shark is a song which is thought to have been around for a long time, before a version of it was produced by a South Korean company called Pinkfong!.

It was Pinkfong!’s version that launched the viral craze, which started in Southeast Asia.

Its catchy lyrics and fun dance moves made it popular with children and adults alike.

However, Pinkfong! believe that a lot of their success came from popular Korean bands like Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation and Black Pink.

Getty Images South Korean bands like Red Velvet (pictured) helped launch the song to hit-status

These K-pop groups started doing their own performances of it at their concerts.

In August 2017, the Baby Shark Challenge – where people filmed themselves doing the Baby Shark dance moves – went viral, with #babysharkchallenge trending on Twitter.

Since then the song has taken off around the world – racking up over a billion views on YouTube.

Could this be the next Gangnam Style? Let us know in the comments!

The Savvy Screener recently spoke with its CEO, Bin Jeong (pictured above, with friend), about the company’s founding and the challenges involved with developing videos that appeal to very young children from different cultures around the world. (Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

TSS: When did Pinkfong start and when did it come to the US? How many employees does Pinkfong have in the US and globally? How did you come up with the name ‘Pinkfong’?

Jeong: Pinkfong started in Korea in 2010 and opened its doors to the US in 2016. We currently have a couple of employees in the US, but as a subsidiary of SmartStudy, there are about 150 employees.

For the name, we thought “fong” is a fun word. Also, we were born on mobile and “fong” sounds somewhat similar to “phone” and, as you can tell, our character is pink.

TSS: What is SmartStudy?

Jeong: Founded in June 2010, SmartStudy is a global entertainment company specializing in developing animated and gaming content to deliver high-quality entertainment.

“For us, it’s not always about getting the highest number of views. We have an obligation to produce quality, educational content for kids.”

TSS: What is Pinkfong’s relationship with Amazon Prime and YouTube?

Jeong: Pinkfong’s videos are available with an Amazon Prime membership and also on YouTube in multiple languages – Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. Additionally, Pinkfong recently collaborated with YouTube Kids for the #ReadAlong campaign launched back in June, and created an exclusive series for the initiative.

TSS: What are some of the challenges involved in creating videos for small children? What type of experts do you consult when developing content?

Jeong: YouTube is flooded with content. Some of it isn’t always the most appropriate for kids; some is heavily commercialized with the sole purpose of getting as many views as possible. For us, it’s not always about getting the highest number of views. We have an obligation to produce quality, educational content for kids.

Also, because we deliver our content worldwide, we have to consider the cultural differences between countries. What is considered appropriate for kids in one country might not be in another. They all have different standards and sensitivities towards kids’ content.

Our in-house content creators are experienced experts from the kids’ publishing industry, with in-depth knowledge in childhood development and education. We also consult with educators and professors.

“Because we deliver our content worldwide, we have to consider the cultural differences between countries. What is considered appropriate for kids in one country might not be in another.”

TSS: What other types of content and products does Pinkfong produce?

Jeong: Aside from fun learning videos, Pinkfong also produces apps, games, songbooks and toys.

TSS: What are some of Pinkfong’s most popular videos?

Jeong: Some of Pinkfong’s most popular videos are “Baby Shark,” “Police Car” and “The Lion.”

TSS: What are some new series you plan to introduce in the next 12 months?

Jeong: Live-action puppet videos, through which we will introduce short stories; and long-form animation series based on our character Pinkfong, which will be in CGI.

TSS: Where do you see Pinkfong five years from now?

Jeong: Our biggest challenge is to successfully produce our first long-form animation series and build licensing arms around it. Also, we want to diversify our library by developing and adding new IPs (intellectual properties). Currently, we have one main IP, Pinkfong, focusing on preschool education and entertainment. We plan to develop and add new character based properties, and expand age groups.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Articles

About The Savvy One

The Savvy One is an elusive bird. Wise and wary of the new television omniverse. Wide-eyed and binge watching his way through life. He is ever perched and ready to bring the knowledge of TV Discovery to the world.

Visit My Website

  • First-Class Film Flights – December 20, 2019
  • Top Male Nude Scenes ’19 – December 6, 2019
  • Best Nude Scenes of 2019 – December 5, 2019
  • Free Classic TV Sites – December 2, 2019
  • Sound Off for Soundies! – November 27, 2019
  • Free Classic Film Sites – November 19, 2019
  • Breaking Glass Pictures: Q&A – June 4, 2019
  • ‘Bosch’ 5 on Friday – April 18, 2019
  • Ta, Ta TaTaTu – March 8, 2019
  • Let’s Drink to DrinkTV – March 7, 2019

View All Articles

‘Baby Shark’ Has Made Millions for This Korean Family

It was practically the anthem for this year’s World Series, with tens of thousands of Washington Nationals fans clapping in unison and belting out “Baby Shark, doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo.”

In Lebanon, it became a rallying cry after a video of protesters singing to soothe a frightened toddler went viral. And in many other places, the earworm has drawn derision, with late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel suggesting its creator should be jailed for life.

To the contrary, the catchy tune about a family of sharks has become so lucrative that the Korean family behind it is now sitting on a rapidly growing multimillion-dollar fortune.

Kim Min-seok co-founded closely held SmartStudy Co. in 2010, and five years later its children’s educational brand, Pinkfong, released “Baby Shark.” His father runs Samsung Publishing Co., which also owns part of the startup. The family fortune, based on stakes held by Kim’s immediate relatives in those two companies, is now about $125 million — much of it thanks to the song.

SmartStudy declined to comment on the family’s wealth.

Crowd Singalongs

Shares of Samsung Publishing soared 89% the week the World Series began as local media reported on the song’s surging popularity among U.S. baseball fans. Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra began using it as his walk-up music, leading to crowd singalongs with shark-jaw gestures, scenes that echoed across TVs as the team broke out of an early season slump. They rode the wave all the way to the championship.

The Kim family owns 63% of Samsung Publishing, which in turn owns 21% of SmartStudy. Kim also directly owns a 23% stake in the startup, which Bloomberg valued by comparing it to four publicly traded peers.

Kim, 38, hardly set out to write a hit global song. After working at gaming companies including Nexon and developing content for kids at Samsung Publishing, he co-founded SmartStudy to focus on the growing market for educational content for smartphones.

The app-to-video maker’s early days were tough, but eventually grew faster as the Baby Shark video became a sensation, Chief Financial Officer Seungkyu Lee said in a January interview. Last year, the startup’s revenue jumped about 47% to 40 billion won ($34.3 million). The song has amassed more than 3.8 billion views on YouTube and this year reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart. There’s also a concert experience for children, Baby Shark Live!

Most Popular on TIME

Contact us at [email protected]

US children’s entertainer sues Pinkfong over Baby Shark

Business News Legal Media

By Andy Malt | Published on Friday 23 August 2019

Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’ is an undeniable phenomenon. But could the whole thing have been stolen? Children’s entertainer Johnny Only is claiming that it certainly was. From him. And that is why he is now suing the South Korean entertainment firm.

The claim is complicated, because the origins of the ‘Baby Shark’ song are unknown. The campfire chant is thought to have developed through children’s summer camps in the US at some point in the 20th century, possibly inspired by the film ‘Jaws’. Though that version was somewhat less toddler-friendly than the one popularised by Pinkfong, with the lyrics running through a loss of limbs one by one as the shark attacks.

Wanting to bring the song to a younger audience, Only rewrote it all to focus on a family of sharks, rather than having the song’s narrator eventual eaten away. He has been performing that version now for around two decades. So when he heard the Pinkfong version, he felt he’d been ripped off.

Hence he is now suing Pinkfong’s parent company SmartStudy for copyright infringement. The first hearing in the case actually took place at the Seoul Central District Court last month. The Korea Copyright Commission is now set to review both songs before the case can proceed further.

“On a personal level, it has been a bit weird”, Only tells USA Today. “Especially because I feel like I am the one who started ”.

However, SmartStudy dismisses Only’s claims of ownership of a family-themed version of the song, saying: “Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’ is based on a traditional singalong chant which has passed to public domain. Produced by SmartStudy, we are the producer and publisher, we own and control 100% of ”.

Only published his version in 2011 and produced a YouTube video for it, which currently has a little over 100,000 views (compared to Pinkfong’s five billion for its various videos of the song).

Proving that Pinkfong ripped Only off may prove difficult though. ‘Baby Shark’ has a long history that pre-dates his rework and other more young-child friendly versions definitely exist in various forms online that pre-date his recording. His and Pinkfong’s versions also differ musically and lyrically.

Still, Only insists that there are too many similarities for it to be an accident, adding: “The shortened length, the key, the addition of instrumentation, the type of instrumentation, the rhythm, the tempo, the sanitation of the lyrics for toddler age audiences, the tempo change mid song, the splash at the beginning … even some of the harmony styles and things like adding a lower voice when they introduce daddy shark ”.

You can compare the two versions below, assuming you don’t mind having that bloody song stuck in your head for the rest of the day like I now have.

READ MORE ABOUT: Johnny Only | Pinkfong

The Curious History of the Virus Known as “Baby Shark”

When you think of top-40 hit-makers, you probably think of respected rappers like Jay-Z or iconic singers like Beyonce. Heck, you may even think about superstars outside that, particularly star-studded marriage. But, I’m guessing you do not envision a pair of South Korean children with endearingly dorky, deer-in-the-headlights looks of surprise bordering on mortification chanting their way through a sadistically catchy ditty about a family of sharks on the hunt against a cheaply animated backdrop. Yet in January the Billboard charts welcomed a curious and unlikely new entry in the form of South Korean educational brand Pinkfong’s insanely infectious ditty “Baby Shark”, which debuted at 32 in the top 100.

If you’re reading this and do not live in the proverbial cave, there is a very good chance that you are all too familiar with “Baby Shark.” Chances are good that you’ve probably got that clamorous ditty running rampant inside your infected psyche right now, particularly the “doo doo doo, doo doo doo” part.

ADVERTISEMENT

How the hell does a song about a family of sharks, sung by children who don’t seem to realize they’re in a music video, let alone an international smash, make it onto the same Billboard Top 40 charts that was previously the domain of more dignified acts like Milli Vanilli, Rick Dees and Crazy Frog?

For starters, “Baby Shark” has been played on YouTube over two billion times. That’s right. Billions. Not millions, billions. In a world of some seven billion people, that means that something like one in four people have played this particular jam on YouTube. That’s good enough for the 20th most played YouTube video of all time. Suck it, Michael Jackson’s memory! No video you’ve done has approached the popularity of “Baby Shark” on YouTube. (And if I remember correctly, he did some pretty good videos. Some arguably better and more artful than “Baby Shark.”)

Thanks for the feedback! Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected]

Where the fuck did this ditty of the damned come from? That is a good question. Technically speaking, it doesn’t really have an author or a songwriter, since it began life as a cross between a summer camp chant and a nursery rhyme whose origin is lost forever in the fog of time, although it may be Jaws-inspired thematically as well as musically.

In 2007, a German artist who performs under the name Alemuel posted a video of herself performing a version titled “Kleiner Hai” in a grainy, disorienting clip that is honestly more terrifying than anything found in most found fiction horror movies. Alemuel later recorded a dance version that hit 25 on the German charts over a decade before Babyfong’s version launched its improbable assault on the American Top 40.

Several years later, half a world away, a Canadian children’s performer named Johnny Only posted his own “Baby Shark” song on youtube in 2011. Though it was released years before the Pinkfog version that conquered the world, it has been viewed a little under 100,000 times. That’s substantially less than two billion.

ADVERTISEMENT

Then Pinkfong got a hold of the song and cranked out a series of hit versions, including a Korean version that was criticized for lyrics ever so succinctly describing the various sharks along heavily gendered lines: Mommy shark is “pretty”, Daddy as “strong”, Grandma as “kind” and Grandpa as “cool.”

It’s disappointing that these shapers of our children’s fragile imaginations feel the need to put the family of sharks into tidy little boxes that correspond neatly to conventional conceptions of appropriate gender roles instead of concentrating on the sharks being unrelenting, inhuman killing machines with eyes black as midnight and murder in their souls.

Imagine if John Williams’ legendary theme from Jaws went to Ibiza, took a bunch of Molly and started disco-dancing and you have a sense of “Baby Shark Dance” from a musical perspective.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lyrically, the song basically has two sections. First we’re introduced to the Shark family: Baby Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo), Mommy Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo), Daddy Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo), Grandma Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) and finally, Grandpa Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo).

Then comes the drama, the action, the pulse-pounding excitement. The sharks go hunting. Their prey runs away. The primal drama of hunter and hunted, predator and prey is resolved with the grateful would-be shark dinner reflecting joyously upon their survival and safety with more infernal chanting. Then comes the end. You know it’s the end because they start singing “It’s the end (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo)” with the same psychotic catchiness/meaninglessness as everything else.

Oh, and of course there’s a fucking dance to go along with it. What would a mind-meltingly stupid international fad novelty song be without a fucking dance to go along with it? That’s a world the old dudes who sang “Macarena” do not want to contemplate.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Baby Shark” quickly became the new “Harlem Shake.” Everybody was doing it, even as everyone also seemed to agree that the whole strange phenomenon was played out.

Ellen Degeneres and James Corden both released their own versions of it because of course, they did. That’s pretty much their whole shtick. I’m surprised Jimmy Fallon hasn’t had a go at it as well, possibly in Neil Young’s voice. (Though, the other Jimmy, Jimmy Kimmel, did suggest the creators of Baby Shark should be arrested.)

“Baby Shark Dance” seemed to belong to everybody and nobody. Look up the song on Youtube or Google and prepare to go down a very weird, hypnotically terrible wormhole that includes things like “Baby Shark Remix Bombstyle”, an intense remix about twice as long as the original that has been viewed some eleven million times. That’s way more even than songs that are not aural nightmares.

ADVERTISEMENT

Babyfong cannibalized the fuck out of itself by remaking their monster hit endlessly, with pandering variations like “Baby Car” and “Baby T-Rex.”

On a less soul-crushing note, the song/dance’s popularity did not escape the good people over at Sesame Street, who released their own version in the form of “Cookie Shark” with underwater versions of Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster taking the place of the confused-seeming children from the blockbuster original.

ADVERTISEMENT

Needless to say, the Sesame Street version is way better than the amateurish Kidfong smash; a kid-friendly acid trip in YouTube video form. And that’s because the original both isn’t at all original and also is hypnotic trash. Yet for some reason, this well-executed, cleverly animated cover from one of the biggest, classiest names in kid’s entertainment, and entertainment in general, has been viewed about a million times. That’s over two billion times less than Kidfong’s top 40 “original.”

It’s a testament to what a deeply bizarre phenomenon the “Baby Shark” is that of all the big-name covers and tributes and remixes from celebrities on both sides of the pond none can compete in popularity with the campy, English-language “Baby Shark Dance” clip that conquered the world. Kidfong’s signature smash went viral in the truest sense, in that it feels less like a song or a video and more like a disease listeners would like to scrub from their minds and bodies and has a sinister momentum all its own.

You can’t run away from this phenomenon just yet I’m afraid, (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) but God willing it will burn itself out before too long.

ADVERTISEMENT

Also like a virus, “Baby Shark” has proven itself almost disconcertingly resilient. So it’s entirely possible that a decade from now the ditty and the dance will re-emerge like long-dormant symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease and afflict the world all over again, and then every decade after that. Thank God my children will be too old to be affected by then and I personally would make the choice to bash my laptop in with a golf club rather than risk getting sucked into “Baby Shark” mania all over again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected] Thank you for subscribing Give us a little more information and we’ll give you a lot more relevant content Your child’s birthday or due date Add A Child Remove A Child I don’t have kids Thanks For Subscribing! Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected]

Screenshot: Baby Shark Official (YouTube) Wiki WormholeWe explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,664,405-week series, Wiki Wormhole.

We explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,973,574-week series, Wiki Wormhole.

This week’s entry: 2010s in music

What it’s about: “Baby Shark,” and all of the other, lesser songs that also came out in the past ten years. This decade appeared to be when people stopped paying for music, all FM radio stations seemed to be owned by one company and programmed by the same computer, and most of us discovered new artists by letting YouTube autoplay to the next video rather than exerting ourselves enough to click a button. Yet, some people still managed to write some terrific songs. Let’s take a listen.

Advertisement

Biggest controversy: This column is more than 300 entries into our 5,973,574-week series, and this might be the worst-written Wikipedia article we’ve yet come across. Granted, much of the text is merely lists of artists, broken up by the occasional list of songs. But attempts at prose include such gems as, “Traditional instruments… have been used more often, especially in indie rock musicians,” “In recent years, the music industry has progress in Ghana,” and one run-on sentence after another. The moral of the story: For readable, informative music writing, stick to your local pop culture website!

Strangest fact: Japanese girl group AKB48 set a record for being the largest pop group in history. The J-pop band at one point had 134 members. The sprawling group opened its own theater so that it could play in one location every day instead of touring, and will rotate members in and out so different factions of the group can play multiple gigs or fan events simultaneously. (Part of the group’s concept is that the members are “idols you can meet”—with so many, it’s much easier for fans to have face-to-face contact with one.) The group is the highest selling musical act in Japan in terms of singles sold. The concept proved sturdy enough that AKB48 now has spinoff groups in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, with an Indian AKB48 in the works.

Thing we were happiest to learn: Hip-hop has gotten its due. Lil Nas X became a star this year by combining hip-hop and country, spurring the latest chapter in the neverending debate over what constitutes “real” country music. The genre also increased its influence around the world, with rappers like Shigga Shay in Singapore, AKA and Emtee in South Africa becoming big stars, and Korean K-Pop spawning a K-hip-hop subgenre.

Thing we were unhappiest to learn: The meaningless label “alternative rock” has only become more meaningless with time. Originally coined to separate the post-punk underground acts that broke through to the mainstream in the 1990s with the hard rock and pop acts who dominated the mainstream in the ’80s, the term now appears to encompass mainstream acts like Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park, and Coldplay, somnambulant singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, and funk party band-turned-yacht rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Alternative” used to mean something, maaaaan! Okay, it never meant anything, but it meant slightly more than this, maaaaan!

Advertisement

Also noteworthy: Punk’s decline ended up being a good thing for punk. After a surge in popularity in the 2000s by punk-esque bands like Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance, and Sum 41, the genre has been largely absent from the pop charts. But that’s led to a resurgence of scrappy garage-influenced punk bands (and one of the bands on the list is called Joanna Gruesome, a definite contender for Year In Band Names.)

Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: If you want to read about music in the 2010s without any of the actual music, check out 2010s In the Music Industry. That page covers music business trends, nearly all of which involve how digital media has upended the industry. One of the page headings, “Exclusive Releases As Promotion,” hilariously has two subheadings: “The Beginning Of Exclusive Releases” and “The End Of Exclusive Releases.” The trend was apparently short-lived.

Advertisement

Further down the Wormhole: Included in a very long list of rappers is Chief Keef, a Chicago-born MC who broke out in the 2010s and had an unlikely champion in Lou Reed. Shortly before Reed’s death in 2013, he commented to The Talkhouse about Keef’s featured track on Kanye West’s album Yeezus: “‘Hold My Liquor’ is just heartbreaking… listen to that incredibly poignant hook from a tough guy like Chief Keef, wow.” Reed, the sardonic songwriter who fronted the influential Velvet Underground before releasing 22 solo studio albums, also made an odd contribution to the video game world. The singer had a cameo in Penn & Teller’s Smoke And Mirrors, a 1995 Sega CD game that was never released, but found a cult following in recent years after the game was posted online. We’re taking a week off to enjoy Thanksgiving, but we’ll be back in two weeks to examine one of the most intentionally maddening video games ever created.