Gaga NADA – Michael Jackson is the first “billion-viewed” video artist!

I’ve been known to enjoy a Lady Gaga video or three.  Sure, load something up with hooks, quirks and anything designed to make you stare, unable to look away — yeah, I’ll eat that stuff up.

So I’m not here to malign her or her talent; others seem to do that quite capably anyhow.  I like her.  But I do take issue with the recent declaration that she is the first artist to exceed one billion online video views, as put forth by Mashable at:

My first thought upon reading that was, “Wow.”  Then my second thought was, “Hey, wait a minute — wouldn’t Michael Jackson have neatly passed that mark a long time ago?”  And I discovered that yes, indeedy, he has. Michael Jackson is undoubtedly the first artist to surpass one billion online video views.

I don’t have a time machine or online video analysis equipment to schuss out just when that might have happened, but I know it had to have been at least last year, if not even before that.  His passing brought out all the fans, both current and reformed, and as of June they walloped the internet with their eyeballs.  And, as I recall, he was pretty popular even before then.

Mashable cites the data gathering company “Visible Measures” as their go-to experts of choice.  According to Mashable, they “curate” a list of 65 videos which have surpassed the 100 million views mark, three of which they’ve noticed include the warblings of Dame Gaga: “Poker Face” with 374,606,128; “Just Dance” with 272,941,674, and “Bad Romance” with 360,020,327, or a total of 1,007,568,129 views. Meanwhile, the site of their curation,, lists only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the list, with a mighty 443,535,722 views.

Anything seem wrong here, offhand?

Seems like Michael Jackson had a few other hit songs with videos, too… over 100 million views though?  Hmm.  Well, I suppose it’s possible that his fans JUST enjoyed that one song of his especially well, seemingly ignoring all the others….

Well, of course not.  Here’s a little sidetrack: They list Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” as THE number one video, with a “True Reach” count of 722,438,268.  Meanwhile, if you wander over to YouTube, you’ll see that this video tops out at 70,934,651 — barely 10% of Visible Measures’ tally.  How is that possible?

Yes, of course there are many video sites out there.  I’d assume that Visible Measures probably considers their data gathering to be proprietary and likely they won’t offer up their sourcing.  However, according to a fairly recent Mashable article at, YouTube holds about 40% of the market share for online video (a reference from just 2 years ago had it at 83% — did it drop, or just different people counting different things?).  If you think on it loosely, where do you suppose the average citizen is going to go hunting for, say, a music video?  “Naw, surely there’s someplace OTHER than YouTube to find this!”  One which comes to mind as being a possible giant in the internet video market would be MySpace video, where Gaga and Jackson both hold solid presences.  I did a rough calculation and see that the total viewership of videos posted on those official pages favor Gaga — ALL videos summing up at just over 4 million views, and all Jackson videos at about 3.5 million (and “Thriller” isn’t even listed there).

Meanwhile, I’ve found 74 videos on YouTube containing performances by Michael Jackson that each exceed FIVE MILLION views.   “Thriller” does indeed place at number one (of all MJ videos) on the site — with 74,935,649 views.  (Take THAT, Soulja Boy!)

Even if you allow that there may be other video hosting sites which could feasibly make up the difference in views — in Soulja Boy’s case, 90% of the 722 million total — it just seems highly unlikely. GROSSLY unlikely.

Why would this matter to anyone?  Well, I’m sure it matters in many different ways — in particular, right now it seems that this little piece of information about Lady Gaga’s triumph in online viewing has gone quite viral itself — CNN, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, and countless newspapers and news sites all over have picked up the story (I assume, on Mashable’s lead, as they are often cited) as the God’s-honest TRUTH — likewise offering a nod to this Visible Measures company as the source.

Maybe Visible Measures is the master of this information.  But how? This is the SAME source Mashable uses to tally up its “Top Ten Most Watched Web Series” each month — the same one that suddenly noticed “Happy Tree Friends” just last October and declared them number one that month with over 19 million “True Reach” views that month.  In September, they didn’t even crack the top ten — they apparently couldn’t beat out Jake & Amir’s 2.9 million total.  Wow, what marketing genius gave them that massive push in October?

I saw for myself about two years ago that Happy Tree Friends was one of the most viewed series on YouTube, and their channel, MondoMedia, is still up there as the #7 most viewed channel with over 588 million total views.  And that’s not including the countless “fan videos” that also do so well on the site.  If I were tracking video artists/series/trends, I’d say that those ought to count, too.  Mainly, I’m saying that this data aggregation company seems to be clearly off the mark somewhere.

Add to this another little detail — in their listing of “Thriller” as the #4 most viewed video online — they offer a link to it as well.  That link leads to a fan video, containing NOT that video, but the music paired up with photographs — with a mere pittance of views, just over 10,000.  Couldn’t they at least take the care to link to the ACTUAL video?

The article mentions how popular she is on VEVO — but if you compare between VEVO and YouTube — you’ll see the views are mirrored.  They are the SAME views.  The official Gaga and Jackson pages on YouTube are simultaneously named “LadyGagaVEVO” and “MichaelJacksonVEVO” and all views on YouTube show up on VEVO as well.  (Are these people then counting them twice?)

Another little thing — the author of the Mashable article about this milestone, Samuel Axon, is self-described as “Mashable’s Lady Gaga correspondent.”  Agenda, maybe?  Or at least guilty of just noticing that, within his Gaga-eyed purview, “Hey, those add up to over a billion — and no one else’s on this list DOES!”

So, music history is made of these.  And who am I to disagree?

I’m putting a bit of homespun research here at the end, so it can be said that at least SOMEONE’S done their math.  All sarcasm aside, I think it’s obvious to nearly everyone that YouTube is “THE” place for online videos, and what’s found there will likely tell the tale the best. As I’ve learned, it’s a little hard to go by just “official” videos, as there are so many concert performances, fan videos, mashups, TV appearances and what-have-you, that are largely driven by a particular artist’s popularity.  Lots of wiggle room there, but I figure it’s hard to argue about wherein lies the thrust of what helped bring a video to 5 million views.  As it turns out, all the videos that owe that thrust to Michael Jackson, on just YouTube alone — DO add up to well over a billion views!

Most of these were “all Michael,” and I went with ones relating to performance rather than “news videos” or anything where he’s just standing there, waving — or whatever.  Perhaps some choices here could be quibbled with — if I found a wedding video where they’re dancing to MJ’s music that’s over 5 million — I counted it.  I found a Spongebob video set to “Thriller” over 5 million — I counted that, too.  To be fair, I gave the same leverage to Ms. Gaga.  I found a transvestite fan version of her “Telephone” over 5 mill — so I counted that, too.  Her list is much shorter, and the total accounting for these comes out to almost half a billion.  Not bad, really!   So, perhaps all the journalists reporting the numbers are “half right.”  But they’re not right at all about who the “First Artist to Reach a Billion Views on the Internet” is.

I commented on the Mashable article, but no one seemed to notice nor care.  I then wrote to them two days ago to ask them to please re-assess their data as it was clearly wrong — and clearly making its way around the world in so many places — and I’ve yet to hear anything back.  Meanwhile, right now, the world thinks Lady Gaga is the historic first artist to reach this impressive milestone, thanks to this “Gaga Correspondent” and this (it would seem) highly questionable source.  Now Gaga’s record company has something to crow about; this data company now enjoys a massively improved public presence (therefore translating to higher perceived value and stature to those who might consider paying for their services), a new crowning of pop royalty has been undeservedly bestowed, and most of all, Michael Jackson gets left in the cold, completely unmentioned.  Yet, actual, provable numbers clearly identify him once again as the true “King of Pop.”  It was earned; it happened — let’s give him credit for it.

My tally of Michael Jackson’s 74 YouTube videos exceeding 5 million views comes to 1,046, 633,807 as of today.  This is sufficient to illustrate the landmark total.  There are also quite a few in the four million range, even more in the three, two and one million range, which if also added, could well bring his total up over 2 billion!  And who knows where you’d be if you included other people covering his songs, news videos, or anything else predominantly related to him?  By rights, those should count too — but again, if a purist would dictate that it should be his music, performed by him, that counts the most — then here you have it.

Thank you for listening.  Let’s get him his credit!  For a start, I suggest demanding that review the matter and post a retraction or correction — and anyone else who reported this based on their article too, for that matter.

— Rob Baker

Lady Gaga – Video Title View Count
Bad Romance 160,941,535
Just Dance 103,988,273
LoveGame 36,748,010
Poker Face (w/Preroll) 25,544,430
Telephone 23,097,259
Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say) 17,750,623
Video Phone (ft. Beyonce) 16,617,170
Paparazzi 12,681,880
Poker Face 11,887,657
Bad Romance (HD Official) 9,532,775
Bad Romance (lyrics) 8,244,838
Paparazzi (live) 7,925,616
Telephone (clean version) 7,452,581
Paparazzi (lyrics) 7,004,840
Paparazzi (AOL Sessions) 5,783,135
Just Dance (Live Sommarkrysset) 6,597,262
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich 5,870,309
Bad Romance (Making of) 5,771,855
Poker Face (Original version) 5,656,382
Speechless (Live VEVO) 5,547,686
Telephone RyanJamesYezak video 5,378,908
Dance Up (Mashup w/Kat DeLuna) 5,080,773
Total: 495,103,797


Michael Jackson – Video Title View Count
Thriller 74,935,649
Billie Jean 45,704,871
Best Ever Moonwalk 44,409,438
Thriller – Filipino Prison Dance 39,817,239
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough 37,768,257
Smooth Criminal (Radio Edit) 37,602,819
Bad 34,841,295
We Are the World (for Haiti) 30,642,800
Black or White 28,624,142
You Rock My World 28,598,794
You Rock My World (long) 27,318,319
You Are Not Alone 23,828,488
They Don’t Care About Us 23,509,390
The Way You Make Me Feel 22,087,869
We Are the World 21,235,329
Moonwalk 19,828,892
Billie Jean Live – Moonwalk 19,384,305
Thriller Live – 1987 19,047,518
Beat It 18,172,443
Smooth Criminal 18,098,391
Will You Be There 16,854,212
Scream 16,642,214
This is It 16,010,896
This is It – Trailer 13,599,085
Heal the World 13,360,545
Way You Make Me Feel – Wedding dance 12,033,047
Rock With You 11,716,540
Thriller – Wedding dance 11,495,089
Man in the Mirror 11,133,309
Billie Jean live – 2001 (MJ 30th Anniv.) 10,995,141
Pepsi Commercial 10,615,469
In the Closet 9,970,904
Ghost 9,829,017
Jackson Five – ABC 9,726,457
Remember the Time 9,589,416
Thriller 25th Teaser 9,407,550
We Are the World – Demo 8,771,131
Billie Jean – Babies dancing 8,756,423
Michael Jackson Dance Break 8,738,363
You Rock My World/Usher/Chris Tucker 8,584,141
Moonwalk Collection 8,054,259
We Are the World (with Lyrics) 7,272,702
You Rock My World 7,250,995
Black or White – Full version 7,156,216
Billie Jean live – Motown 25 7,154,786
Thriller – Full Version 7,146,047
Who Is It? 7,070,789
Smooth Criminal – Ao Vivo (Live) 7,013,502
Dangerous (Live in Munich 1997) 6,778,626
You Are Not Alone (Lyrics) 6,751,168
Pepsi Generation 6,592,065
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough 6,590,758
Jackson Five – Blame it on the Boogie 6,494,249
Dangerous – dance break live 6,372,978
In the Closet 6,222,237
Jackson Five – I’ll Be There 6,204,176
Beat It 6,150,397
Thriller – Spongebob 6,030,269
Smooth Criminal (Live in concert) 5,861,382
Michael Jackson’s YouTube Legacy 5,829,748
We Are the World 5,805,691
Human Nature 5,633,150
Blood on the Dance Floor 5,611,314
Beat It (Lyrics) 5,571,049
Superbowl 5,516,412
This is It (Final Rehearsal) 5,402,954
Say Say Say (w/Paul McCartney) 5,195,736
They Don’t Care About Us (Prison version) 5,186,689
Los Exitos de Michael Jackson 5,170,721
Streetwalker 5,145,095
Best of Dangerous Di Kuala Lumpur 5,089,740
Cry 5,018,780
Man in the Mirror (Moonwalker version) 5,003,930
Total: 1,046,633,807



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25 responses to “Gaga NADA – Michael Jackson is the first “billion-viewed” video artist!

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Please make this right. He has already had enough taken from him, give him his props. He earn them all. Gaga will understand a mistake was made, or lease she should. But this mistake can be corrected, so please do so.

  3. Jenny

    Interesting, Rob. Good for you for actually thinking about the latest headlines and not just accepting whatever gets fed to us. Those who’ve been reporting this (CNN, etc.) should have done the same!
    It goes to show how statistics can be manipulated. No doubt the Lady lover author had some influence. And what you want to bet Lady Gaga or her record company use (and pay for) the company that tabulated the figures? Well they got their money’s worth because I had never seen a Lady Gaga video…until today!
    It seems to me the problem with all this is that wacky “True Reach” number. What I gather from the website is they’re not really talking about number of actual views, rather some number calculated with their own secret recipe. They analyze the views, the links, the parodies, the comments, etc. etc., shake it all up, and pop out a number. Here’s an example of how Lady G may have gotten the advantage over MJ: there’s a version of Poker Face on YouTube with about 25M views. And there’s a Thriller with 75M. MJ has more views, but he only got 3K comments while she got 8K.
    The other problem is that MJ’s views are more spread out. LG has 5 or 6 songs over the past couple years. If they tabulate at all like you did (only looking at videos with a certain minimum views) MJ will be at a disadvantage. If they just used the 100 Million list, you can see that she reached 1 billion, he didn’t.
    But again, it’s not actual views. Just rather meaningless numbers. How many “views” are really viewed anyway? Maybe they should only count when the video was allowed to play in its entirety with no other windows open. If the right paying customer came along, maybe they would!

    • Yes, it seems that even parodies are part of their stew there — and perhaps a variety of other tangential items. Obviously, as hard numbers of views prove (and by using just videos in which a Michael Jackson PERFORMANCE of some type is included — not a cover, not a parody, not a news item) — he has clearly surpassed that landmark, even if they somehow justify their count for Lady Gaga. If you stretch to include those tangentials — well, a Larry King Show segment where someone thought they saw a ghost at Neverland, and another video with someone instructing how to Moonwalk like Michael — with neither his image nor music included — each had over 17 million views. A “Britain’s Got Talent” video with someone covering “I’ll Be There” had over 69 million views. If one goes THERE (i.e., recognizing “the franchise”), then he heads further on into the stratosphere!

      I just wanted to prove that he HAD already clearly reached that landmark with SOLID views — videos containing an actual performance by him somehow — and using the ones over 5 million just illustrate that he had. Meanwhile, a data aggregator like this should responsibly be counting ALL performances.

      To me, parodies and covers without the actual artist’s work aren’t a good basis to use — not when it seems that up to 90% of their tally consists of them. It seems almost irresponsible to then use that data to suppose an artist’s overall success if it’s “by video” — i.e., Gaga’s relatively few, recent releases spawned so many parodies via YouTube — and other artists’ work don’t beg to be parodied. Certainly now, Jackson’s work isn’t being parodied to any large degree (but do they count Weird Al’s “Fat” toward the “Bad” tally? That’s about another ten million right there!).

      Looking at it another way — if Saturday Night Live parodies, say, President Bush — should each view of that “count” toward his overall popularity? Gawd, then he would be the most popular president ever!

      Mostly though — obviously they’re lacking some very important ingredients in their formulae, if they missed everything I was able to see quite clearly on just YouTube.

      Thanks for your thoughtful commentary!

  4. Barbara

    I wondered about that headline when I saw it. My first thought was “what about Michael Jackson”? Thank you for your research. Michael deserves to be acknowledged for this landmark.

  5. Star

    thanks for the research. michael jackson needs the credit for this. he deserves it. we really know how biased the media is when they are willing to give lady gaga props for something just so mj doesn’t have it. and now her manager is saying she’s going to be the next MJ. there is no way she could ever be the next michael jackson, or even a quarter of the entertainer/singer that MJ was. i don’t hate her. i’m just saying that its ridiculous to compare her to him.

  6. angie

    with all the micahel jackson videos that YT keeps taking down everyday Im sure he surpassed the 1 billion views long time ago.

  7. Michael Jackson’s legacy will live on through those who truly could see beyond the cage that society through the unfair onslaught of the media brought this genius. It’s hard for any Black man to get fair credit in this world when it’s due and for too long we’ve seen our achievements glossed over in favor of giving someone else credit.

  8. happy feet

    You know when i first heard that whole lady gaga thing…the first thig i thought was similar to this person…

    March 28, 2010 at 10:50 am I wondered about that headline when I saw it. My first thought was “what about Michael Jackson”? Thank you for your research. Michael deserves to be acknowledged for this landmark”

    Its sad that ppl lie about these things…I reall appreciate this post.THANK YOU!!

  9. carefreedo

    People should push this and make sure he gets the credit he deserves. As you said, he earned it.

    Funny really because the first article I read on ‘the first billion artist’, I also thought how could that be right.

    The article said, all of lady ga ga’s exceed a billion and Michael Jacksons count was about three quarters of a billion, but they had only counted the figures on two songs, thriller and beat it. Why? Hardly sounds fair does it?

    So what about his other millions of videos? I’m glad other people saw there mistake and did something about it.

    They should really update that!

    • where or who do i write to,as im fighting for justice for the holy god of pop culture mj, as the real artist who first hit the billion mark. Id like to kill this gaga idiot fan for stealing obvious credit from mj. gaga is nothing compared to this true pop rebel of pure raw god given talent.

  10. Nohbdy

    To me, the “Lady Gaga Billion Views” statement seems like another PR stunt…and it’s working. Just think about it:
    1.) A record label pays the press to put out some bogus claim.
    2.) The people who want to believe it will celebrate and spread the word while the fact-checkers scour the net for proof, both of which consequently increase the artist’s web traffic.

    Lady Gaga has the ability to reach this milestone without someone fudging the numbers, so why someone would feel the need to boast something like this that could easily be refuted is beyond me.

  11. Whisper

    YEAH OF COURSE! HE IS THE KING OF POP !!Seriously I don’t get it when they compare Michael to Lady GaGa ?????!!!!Thanks so much 4 doing this !
    A Michael Jackson impersonator gets millions of views AND h is just an impersonator!!!!!!!

  12. TruthSeeker

    I just want and need to say THANK YOU for this !!! Seriously, I really mean it.
    This shows, that you are one of those people who think for themselves and don’t believe every crap that the media says. Michael has been, is, and will stay the Best Artist, Performer, Singer, Dancer Ever !!
    It makes me so Angry when I hear Gaga is the new MJ… Even the fact they associate her to Michael is just Painful to hear !!! We do need to restore the Truth, Do a Petition, Send e-mails to the press or something to get this recognised in the papers !! What is really Annoying is that Now, People have in mind that she is the first one, it’s just not Fair on Michael. Once Again, They are Lying !!! Justice needs to be done.
    I suggest readers, to post the article on their network websites. Plz, Spread the Truth. Thank you.

  13. C

    great article! i read somewhere before that Michael Jackson was the first artist to reach a billion views. This was last year, and I forgot where.
    I’m tired of how they keep trying to down play Michael Jackson.
    Lady Gaga videos are fancy and very well uses today’s technologies. All Michael has is himself, makeup, the crew, some dancers, and he can still generate a billion views.

  14. Norwegian.

    It is very likely that MJ has already reached 1 billion views, but, you guys have to remember how long he has been out there.

    Lady Gaga has been known in the business for two years. You can not say that she is famous, you can not say that she doesn’t have talent, and you can not say she’s a bad performer.

    Plus, you’ve only used youtube views. Vevo?

    There is a huge difference here. Lady Gaga has been known for two years. How long has Micheal Jackson been famous?

  15. Joseph

    The story was videos that were in the 100m club added up by one artist, Michael Jackson only has 2 and they don’t add up to 1 billion whereas Lady Gaga’s songs do. If some other outlets misunderstood that isn’t Mashable’s fault.

    • The story claims that Lady Gaga was the first artist to reach a billion views online. The fact that they have a “100 million club” is irrelevant to that, however it seems to be an easy “point to” item for an illustration. It’s still wrong. Mashable has been informed of the problem and has had plenty of chance to correct it, yet hasn’t. If other outlets are relying on Mashable as a news source and Mashable is standing behind a questionable source themselves — it creates doubt in Mashable’s reliability overall.

      If you have 3 million fifty cent pieces, and someone else has one million dollar bills — and only people with whole dollars are being tallied — who is richer? You are, with one and a half million dollars, no matter how someone else decides to count it.

  16. carmina zeliadt

    I’m sorry but I never like lady gaga she dont’ say nothing interesting in her songs .Michael has very good lyrics.I love you Michael you always be ” the king of pop” for ever………………Carmiña

  17. Helene

    FUCK LADY GAGA!!She is dead within 1 year!! MJ Will be here forever!! and he is the frist artist to reach 1 billion viwes!!…

  18. mediahater

    well i always knew what views youtube showed were wrong, no doubt abt it because michael jackson, MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON isn’t having a billion views, c’mon. its something he wld hv got a decade ago or even before that. i never ever believed what freaky youtube showed. he is/was/will always remain the most famous and popular artist ever walked on the face of this earth. get over it. i bet he’s got over 2 billion till date. why not, its Michael Jackson baby, the one being known by each and every person around the globe. he was freaking famous. i won’t be surprised if he’d passed even 3 billion.

  19. i think that lady gaga is shit compared to michael jackson =]

  20. felisa

    Thank you Rob Baker for justifying this mess the media has created,everyone in this world know in their hearts that he “MJ”is the true “King of Pop”always will today,tommorow,next week,next year,etc., that goes for gaga’s publicist and anyone else in her camp!Michael needs someone in his family or circle to bring some attention to this “publicity stunt” their trying to pull, Michael has more talent dead than she does alive! He had been in the business 40 years +,how can someone over night,accomplish that, they can’t!Luv you “MJ” RIP.

  21. Gaga NADA – Michael Jackson is the first “billion-viewed” video artist!
    March 27, 2010 · 2:09 PM
    updated this list on 2013 January plz.

  22. Pingback: Michael Jackson The 1st ‘Billion-Viewed’ Artist On Youtube, Not Gaga | Global Grind

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