YouTube’s “Billion View Club” is as exclusive as the music industry gets. Beyoncé isn’t in it. Neither is Kanye West, or Coldplay, or U2. Rihanna is, but only with an asterisk. (She’s never had her own song accumulate a billion YouTube views, but collaborations she did with Calvin Harris and Eminem have.) In total, there are 46 videos on YouTube to garner a billion views. Four of them are by Justin Bieber, three of them are Taylor Swift songs. Calvin Harris and Adele each pop up twice, as does Psy(!). Also on that list, though, is British singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg, who performs under the name Passenger. His “Let Her Go” has accumulated 1,343,413,052 views in the four and a half years since it was uploaded to the service. At that point, Rosenberg was just off of busking between shows on tiny tours and preparing to open for Ed Sheeran in North America, and he shot the video for “Let Her Go” for $3,000.
Being the least famous member of the Billion View Club is nothing to be ashamed of, of course, and Rosenberg is celebrating the support that got him there with the release of a new version of the video. This one seamlessly edits together some of the more than 2,500 cover versions of “Let Her Go” that appear on YouTube into a version of the track sung, performed–and in at least one instance, played on the recorder–by those fans. The result is a dizzying collage of musicians all emoting their hearts out to the power ballad in a way that feels very authentic to the spirit of Passenger’s original.
“I’ll always feel very proud of the video for ‘Let Her Go,'” Rosenberg says. “Not because it’s necessarily our best one, but because I think it proves that you don’t need a huge budget and loads of special effects to make something that works. My friend Dave came along to our show in Sydney and shot some really simple footage of sound check, the dressing room, and the show itself, and I think it captured something in a very sweet and honest way. At the time, we of course had no idea that it would be viewed over a billion times. If we knew that, I’m sure we would have put a little more thought into it, but I’m really kind of glad we didn’t.”