Unless you recently awoke from a five-year coma there is a roughly one hundred percent chance that you are, if anything, way too familiar with the children’s song “Baby Shark.” Pinkfong’s version of the maddeningly, sadistically catchy ditty exploded out of the gaudy ghetto of kiddie Youtube to become a breakout hit around the world. “Baby Shark” was a top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at 32, in addition to charting in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden and the UK.
Even more impressively, the viral video for “Baby Shark” is the most viewed video in the history of Youtube, having wracked up eight BILLION hits. That’s right: eight BILLION hits. That’s a lot.
Pinkfong, the South Korean company that produced the definitive version of “Baby Shark” realized what a gold mine they had in the smash-hit video and song, its title character, and supporting characters Mommy Shark, Daddy Shark, Grandpa Shark, and Grandma Shark.
So they’ve spent the last half-decade relentlessly exploiting the popularity of “Baby Shark” in myriad ways. There’s a Nickelodeon Jr. show that debuted in December of last year, as well as a feature film in Pinkfong & Baby Shark’s Space Adventure and merchandise up the wazoo.
Pinkfong sometimes uses Baby Shark and friends for genuinely educational purposes, to teach children about the food, music, and traditions of various cultures and countries. If you want to introduce your tot to concepts like the Can-Can or the Tango, Pinkfong and Baby Shark have you covered.
Baby Shark and his family do nothing more than swim and hunt in the song/clip that introduced them to the world but in the videos that followed they pretty much do everything, and do it with panache.
Pinkfong is undeniably formulaic. It’s a shiny, happy world full of big-eyed, painfully adorable creatures who never stop smiling, giggling, winking, and shimmying to express the ineffable, infectious joy of being alive. The colors are bright, the songs are catchy and everything is as cute and upbeat as possible.
But if Baby Shark and Pinkfong are slaves to the formula it’s a formula that works, both for the very small children that are its target audience and the stoned adults that are the secondary market for so much kid’s fate. Pinkfong subtly and not so subtly appeals to this stoned adult audience with videos rooted in nostalgia for phenomenons small children know nothing about.
“8 Bit Baby Shark”, for example, re-imagines the Baby Shark family as the heroes in a charmingly primitive video game from the 1990s, complete with a chiptune version of the iconic theme song. “8 Bit Baby Shark” has been viewed just under one hundred and fifty million times, so pandering to cheap Gen-X nostalgia definitely paid off.
“Disco Sharks” goes back even further in its nostalgic adult appeal, from the heyday of the Nintendo Entertainment System back to the decadent, coke-fueled 1970s, when disco was king.
One of the many pleasant, weird surprises of the Baby Shark phenomenon is what a huge, even central role Baby Shark’s aged grandmother and grandmother play in the videos.
If Pinkfong were an American company, Grandma and Grandpa Shark would probably live in a cut-rate underwater nursing home and send Baby Shark letters that Daddy Shark and Mommy Shark throw away without even opening. They would be neither seen, nor heard, nor remembered.
Thankfully Pinkfong is a South Korean company from a culture that respects elders so Grandma and Grandpa Shark have all manner of surreal, bizarre, and heart-warming adventures.
Pinkfong goes out of its way to establish that time and age have done nothing to diminish Grandma Shark and Grandpa Shark’s passionate feelings towards one another, that they’re still head over heels in love.
They may be ancient boomer sharks, but for Grandma Shark and Grandpa Shark the honeymoon phase seemingly never ended.
In “Wedding in the Sea”, a clip that has been viewed more than three million times, the Baby Shark family comes together to help Grandma Shark and Grandpa Shark renew their wedding vows because nothing thrills small children more than re-commitment ceremonies involving elderly sea creatures.
Grandma and Grandpa Shark are full of surprises. Grandma Shark spends a surprising amount of time rocking a shell bikini while “Acapella Sharks” establishes that Grandpa Shark is an accomplished beat-boxer whose advanced age and gift for making music with his mouth truly puts the “old” in Old School.
Things get even trippier in “Baby Shark Robot”, which re-invents the Baby Shark family as underwater androids with amazing powers and Beat-Boxing, Grandma-romancing, disco-dancing Grandpa Shark as a bootleg Transformer who shape-shifts from a robotic shark to a truck to a plane and finally to a space ship that blasts off into outer space in a matter of mere seconds.
Why? Why the hell not? You don’t need logic in the world of Baby Shark, just a baby shark, baby shark’s family, some weird ideas, and a whole lot of doo doo doo doo doo doo.
Ever wondered what it would feel like to be blasted out of your mind on club drugs at a massive EDM festival in Ibiza at three o clock in the morning and peaking when all of a sudden the Baby Shark family comes over and starts dancing with you to a sick remix of their theme song?
If so, you’re in luck because that’s exactly the trippy vibe of DJ Jauz Party Remix, which legitimately slaps, as the young people say.
If Jauz’s re-imagining of “Baby Shark” isn’t dark or gritty or maddeningly, infectiously repetitive for you, there’s also Dedesabunge’s Trap Remix of “Baby Shark”, which has been viewed more than twenty million times.
You can literally spend hours, even days, going deeper and deeper down a Youtube Baby Shark rabbit hole exploring weird new permutations of Pinkfong’s breakout star and his family.
“Baby Shark” was just the beginning. There does not appear to be an end in sight because Baby Shark has transcended its humble origins to become a bona fide international kiddie icon like Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald. Once you’ve reached that level of success and ubiquity immortality is not just a possibility but an inevitability.