Hard rock trailblazers and mainstays AC/DC are one of the most enduring classic rock bands of the 20th century, so it’s no huge surprise that the Australian rockers just entered YouTube’s ‘billion views club’ (an unofficial group of artists who can boast that at least one of their music videos has crossed the one-billion views mark on the video streaming platform).
But which AC/DC classic crossed the threshold into that rarified company? Well, it’s probably not the song you’d expect. While their blockbuster Back to Black album contains two top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits in “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back In Black,” those aren’t the first AC/DC tracks to hit one billion views on YouTube; although they notched five No. 1s on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, none of those bangers have crossed the billion mark; nor is it one of the band’s undying classics from the Bon Scott era, such as “Highway to Hell,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or “T.N.T.”; and it’s not their highest charting hit on the Hot 100, “Moneytalks,” which peaked at No. 23 in 1991.
As a matter of fact, it’s the previous single from The Razor’s Edge, the album “Moneytalks” hails from: “Thunderstruck.” Is “Thunderstruck” — with its intricate guitar work, relentless build-and-release tension and hellhound shriek vocals from Brian Johnson – an absolute masterpiece? Hell yes. But when you think AC/DC’s most popular song, “Thunderstruck” isn’t exactly the top song that comes to mind. The video is certainly one of their more memorable clips, opening with close-up action shots of the earth-shaking drums and frenetic fret work, but at the end of the day, it’s also just a music video based around live concert performance (which, to be fair, is also true of the videos for a number of their other classics).
So what makes “Thunderstruck” such a favorite on YouTube? Perhaps it’s the fact that many of their classic hits with stronger mainstream recognition preceded the MTV music video era (although “You Shook Me” did receive a second video in the format’s golden era when AC/DC did the soundtrack to the bizarre killer-vehicle movie Who Made Who); “Thunderstruck,” meanwhile, came out well after MTV debuted and before music videos became a scarce commodity on cable TV. A strong argument could be made that the inclusion of “Thunderstruck” in both Iron Man 2 and Deadpool 2 has gone a long way toward establishing it as the go-to AC/DC rocker for new generations. Or perhaps “Thunderstruck” is just the slow and steady runner that wins the YouTube race. Either way, no excuse is needed to press play and push this brain-melter a little bit further over the one-billion mark.