justin bieber pointing at camera in baby video
When Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' music video became the most-viewed YouTube video of all time back in April, Urlesque's Cole Stryker astutely explained why it was so popular. Well, Justin Bieber has just knocked Gaga from her YouTube throne with his 'Baby' video, chalking up over 246 million views.

Even Bieber's biggest supporters would admit that 'Baby' is not as abstract or original as 'Bad Romance' by any stretch of the imagination. It has none of the shock value, spectacle or creepy-factor of Gaga's work, so how did a straight-up pop hit like 'Baby' reach the absolute pinnacle of YouTube?

Two words: Teenage. Girls. (Well, and some boys, too.)
See, Bieber Beliebers are predominantly teenage girls, as the YouTube stats will tell you. Bieber's two biggest audiences, according to YouTube, are females ages 13-17 followed by males ages 13-17. I would include tweens in that mix, too, as many 11- and 12-year-olds register as 13 to get YouTube accounts. Bieber's third-biggest fan base is females 18 to 24.

But doesn't Lady Gaga appeal to the young ladies? She does, indeed: 13-17 year-old girls make her list, too. But look at the rest of her fans: men 35-44 and men 45-50. The middle-aged men of the internet are flocking to Gaga, driving her video views way, way up ... but when you think of YouTube, do you think of middle aged men? I don't: YouTube is for everyone, but it's disproportionately watched by teenyboppers.

Even if Gaga holds strong with the grown-up men and gets plenty of teen fans, Bieber's heartthrob status with the younger girls (girls his own age, I should point out) means that he dominates her in that age group. And as teen girls go, so goeth YouTube.

When you want the single biggest video on the web, you can't play to a niche audience; you've got to go as mainstream as possible. In this case, Bieber has just out-mainstreamed Lady Gaga. It has nothing to do with his music being better (I would argue that it's not), and everything to do with appealing to YouTube's most powerful group.

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