5 Rock Songs You Didn’t Know Hit the Billion Club on YouTube

It’s not uncommon to find modern chart-toppers like Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift regularly smashing the billion-views ceiling on YouTube. Rock videos seem to have a harder time reaching that plateau, hitting it more often on Spotify.

Videos by American Songwriter

But occasionally some songs and their videos prove to be more popular and have greater longevity than we expected. Here are five rock clips we bet you didn’t know hit a billion views. We’re impressed, too, that many of them hit that milestone when some seemingly more popular tunes have not. Guess time reveals what stands the test of time!

[RELATED: Hoobastank’s “The Reason” Joins YouTube’s Billion Views Club]

1. Europe, “The Final Countdown” (1986)

This majestically synthy pop-rock anthem was quite a change from the Swedish group’s hard-rocking roots, but it helped make them international stars. We knew the song was popular, but not this popular. A lot of it might have to do with the song’s status as a must-play track at the end of sporting events, but even so—there are plenty of like-minded peers from the late ‘80s who don’t have numbers anywhere near this. Looks like they did make it to Venus!

2. The Cranberries, “Zombie” (1994)

The uncharacteristically aggressive song from this Irish band was inspired by an IRA bombing that killed two young children. Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan was in the area of the attack at the time and was inspired to write this almost dirge-like number critical of the senseless violence being perpetuated due to the so-called “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. The song was a way-bigger hit outside of America, most notably in the U.K., and its stature seems to have grown over the decades. O’Riordan’s death in 2018 may likely have renewed interest in the song as well, unfortunately; it’s hit 1.4 billion views.

3. System of a Down, “Chop Suey!” (2001)

System of a Down were always outliers of the nü metal movement—in a good way. They were fierce, passionate, and more profoundly political than any of their peers. “Chop Suey!” was released shortly before 9/11 and was banned from radio soon after for political reasons—the “self-righteous suicide” mentioned in the song was the culprit, even though it is not at all referencing terrorism but is an examination of domestic violence.

While the ferocious single would sell 5 million copies (and the Toxicity album 6 million copies), the tune never even made the Top 50 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. It now sits at over 1.3 billion views, and has got to be the heaviest track to break the billion-views YouTube mark—even Metallica’s billion club member, “Nothing Else Matters,” is a ballad. So kudos to SOAD for breaking big with dark and heavy.

4. Audioslave, “Like a Stone” (2002)

When three former members of Rage Against the Machine joined forces with Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell, their debut album caught fire, selling 3 million copies domestically on the strength of the fiery “Cochise” and this somber, introspective ballad told from the perspective of a man sitting in a hotel and contemplating the afterlife—what it might mean when he dies, and where he might go. It’s another dark entry in the YouTube billion club. This half-million selling single just missed the Top 30, but some rock tracks have long legs and Cornell’s death may also have boosted its profile (again a sad but true reality). The next biggest Audioslave clip? “Be Yourself” at 244 million views.

5. Hoobastank, “The Reason” (2003)

Hoobastank’s first two albums established them as agile purveyors of hard-rocking anthems that were high on octane and lean on fat. They crafted short ‘n’ sweet tracks that were highly replay-able, notably on their second album, The Reason. The gentle ballad that was the title track to their sophomore record helped push album sales beyond Double Platinum and single sales for the song above 4 million. “The Reason” is one of the newest billion-club members, while the clip’s sequel video for “Same Direction” is just closing in on 10 million views. Big difference in exposure (but don’t you want to know how the story ends?)

Photo by J. Quinton/WireImage

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