Two weeks ago, few people had ever heard New York producer Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” a frenetic dance thumper stuffed with trancy synths and lion roars that was released last May. But now that the track has gone viral thanks to its ubiquitous meme-status, it’s gained legitimate traction on the chart.
Yesterday, Baauer climbed all the way to the top of iTunes’ all-genre “Top Songs” list, and despite the fact that “Harlem Shake” has been temporarily displaced by One Direction’s “One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks),” it’s still ahead of powerhouse sellers like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” and Rihanna’s “Stay.” Plus, once the Directioners have all bought their fave boy band’s song, which should take approximately an hour, “Harlem Shake” will likely return to No. 1.
It’s unclear whether sales for “Harlem Shake” are driven by buyers who want to use the song to make their own 30-second-long videos (earlier this week, YouTube reported that over 4,000 “Harlem Shake” videos were being uploaded every day) or if they’re true fans of the song, which does fit into the current wave of EDM and super-producer/DJ-driven pop.
When EW reached Baauer’s reps, they said he was not interested in commenting on the meme, which got its start on Jan. 30 when vlogger Filthy Frank included it at the top of a compilation video. Three days later, he isolated the “Harlem Shake” portion of the video. It has since received nearly 10 million views.
Since then, thousands have uploaded their own videos, which follow an ever-evolving set of rules. Typically, one person in a helmet or mask dances alone in the middle of a room — usually hip thrusting — for about 15 seconds. When the beat drops, the clip switches to reveal dozens (if not hundreds) of ridiculous dancers dressed in costumes and not dancing so much as flailing about like seizure victims. Often, someone is punching a giraffe. Sometimes, people are dressed in chicken-suits. The more random, it seems, the better.
Here are some of the most popular versions:
MATT AND KIM EDITION
HAPPY ENDINGS EDITION
Have you bought “Harlem Shake,” or are you ready for the craze to end? Do you think the song may perform similarly to “Gangnam Style,” which went from viral novelty to actual pop smash?