To improve my rough song sketches, I’m considering the emotional impact and message of each. It clear? Is it useful?

I have a theory that just a handful of themes/messages are repeatedly popular and that these are the things we most need to hear because they solve common emotional puzzles. To test this idea, I’m hunting for themes in the 73 most popular music videos on YouTube. Each of these has over 1 billion views. What makes each one super popular?

Results: If you are on a desktop, mouse over each link to read my summary of each song’s message. The most common themes are relationships, money and self-esteem.

[Billion Views] Song Title – Composer/Artist (Year)

1. [3.66] Despacito – Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee (2017)

2. [3.1] See You Again – Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (2015)

3. [2.95] Gangnam Style – Psy (2012)

4. [2.76] Sorry – Justin Bieber (2015)

5. [2.65] Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (2014)

6. [2.37] Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (2014)

7. [2.34] Bailando – Enrique Iglesias featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona (2014)

8. [2.31] Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (2017)

9. [2.3] Sugar – Maroon 5 (2015)

10. [2.26] Roar – Katy Perry (2013)

11. [2.17] Lean On – Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ (2015)

12. [2.16] Blank Space – Taylor Swift (2014)

13. [2.1] All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor (2014)

14. [2.1] Dark Horse – Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (2014)

15. [2.05] Hello – Adele (2015)

16. [1.93] Counting Stars – OneRepublic (2013)

17. [1.82] Closer (Lyric video) – The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey (2016)

18. [1.8] Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran (2014)

19. [1.79] What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber (2015)

20. [1.78] This Is What You Came For – Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna (2016)

21. [1.78] Chantaje – Shakira featuring Maluma (2016)

22. [1.7] Baby – Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris (2010)

23. [1.69] Work from Home – Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign (2016)

24. [1.67] Chandelier – Sia (2014)

25. [1.58] Let Her Go – Passenger (2012)

26. [1.55] Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding (2015)

27. [1.53] Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira featuring Freshlyground (2010)

28. [1.48] Rockabye – Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul & Anne-Marie (2016)

29. [1.46] Worth It – Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink (2015)

30. [1.44] We Don’t Talk Anymore – Charlie Puth featuring Selena Gomez (2016)

31. [1.39] Ay Vamos – J Balvin (2014)

32. [1.39] Love the Way You Lie – Eminem featuring Rihanna (2010)

33. [1.38] Wake Me Up – Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc (2013)

34. [1.37] Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) – Silentó (2015)

35. [1.36] Rude – Magic! (2013)

36. [1.34] Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock (2011)

37. [1.32] Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes (2016)

38. [1.29] Hotline Bling – Drake (2015)

39. [1.28] Faded – Alan Walker (2015)

40. [1.26] Propuesta Indecente – Romeo Santos (2013)

41. [1.23] Love Yourself – Justin Bieber (2015)

42. [1.22] Vente Pa’ Ca – Ricky Martin featuring Maluma (2016)

43. [1.22] Hasta el Amanecer – Nicky Jam (2016)

44. [1.19] The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars (2011)

45. [1.19] Starboy – The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk (2016)

46. [1.18] Let It Go – Idina Menzel (2014)

47. [1.17] Burn – Ellie Goulding (2013)

48. [1.17] Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2010)

49. [1.16] Summer – Calvin Harris (2014)

50. [1.15] All of Me – John Legend (2013)

51. [1.15] How Deep Is Your Love – Calvin Harris featuring Disciples (2015)

52. [1.14] Picky – Joey Montana (2015)

53. [1.14] Hey Mama – David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha and Afrojack (2015)

54. [1.12] The Hills – The Weeknd (2015)

55. [1.11] Bad Blood – Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar (2015)

56. [1.11] On the Floor – Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull (2011)

57. [1.11] Gentleman – Psy (2013)

58. [1.11] Side to Side – Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Minaj (2016)

59. [1.11] Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz (2012)

60. [1.08] The Gummy Bear Song – Gummibär (2007)

61. [1.07] Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots (2015)

62. [1.06] Reggaetón Lento (Bailemos) – CNCO (2016)

63. [1.06] El Perdón – Nicky Jam featuring Enrique Iglesias (2015)

64. [1.06] Animals – Martin Garrix (2013)

65. [1.05] Diamonds – Rihanna (2012)

66. [1.05] Problem – Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea (2014)

67. [1.04] Andas en Mi Cabeza – Chino & Nacho featuring Daddy Yankee (2016)

68. [1.04] El Perdedor – Maluma (2016)

69. [1.04] Firework – Katy Perry (2010)

70. [1.04] Shaky Shaky – Daddy Yankee (2016)

71. [1.02] El Pollito Pio – pulcinopiotv (2012)

72. [1.01] La Bicicleta – Carlos Vives and Shakira (2016)

73. [1.01] Not Afraid – Eminem (2010)