The song, released on Sony Music India's YouTube channel, surpassed BTS' “Boy with luv” featuring Halsey, which had 74,600,000 views from April 12 to 13, as well as Taylor Swift’s “Look at What You Made Me Do.”
But there was a slight problem: YouTube declined to credit the singer.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Google-owned site, last year, introduced a new way to premiere videos, and since then “has trumpeted the setting of every new record.”
News reports say YouTube’s decision only seems to have fuelled earlier speculations by music enthusiasts that the number of views “Pagal” received were achieved through server farms and bots - two tools grouped under fake views.
Adding to this, the Bloomberg report said that Badshah and his representatives had purchased advertisements from Google and YouTube that embedded the video or directed fans to it in some other way, thus increasing the number of views.
It also accused Badshah and Sony Music of buying ad space where they embedded the music video and/or redirected viewers to it. “If the viewer watched the ad-spaced featuring ‘Paagal’ for a certain amount of time before skipping it to their desired video, then ‘Paagal’ gets that view,” the report said, adding that “this helped boost the video's total.” But the report was quick to add that Badshah is not the only artist to do this “as many major pop artists have done so also.”
However, the Bloomberg report notes that “India is a huge priority for YouTube, which is relying on emerging countries for most of its growth.” According to the report, “India is both YouTube’s largest market—some 265 million Indians visit YouTube every month—and home to its most popular channel. T-Series, India’s largest record label, operates the only channel with more than 100 million subscribers.”
Meanwhile, the Badshah lashed out at the exclusion from YouTube, calling a double standard. He said while the site was “happy to trumpet records from global superstars like Swift and Grande, paused when an Indian rapper unknown in the West employed the same strategy to reach the top.” In a post on Instagram, he wrote about working hard for the video and its promotion world-wide. I don’t want people abroad to see India like it’s shown in a film like ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’” he wrote. “We are at par with the world. And it’s our time to shine.”
The rapper, who has released several singles which have become party anthems, debuted as an actor with “Khandaani Shafakhana,” starring Sonakshi Sinha, which released on Aug. 2.