The Harlem Shake and why this trend is only the tip of the iceberg

February 15, 2013
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If you’ve been on YouTube in the past week there’s a good chance you’ve probably seen or heard at least one version of the Harlem Shake. The song “Harlem Shake” was originally released by house producer Harry Rodrigues, better known as Baauer in May 2012. While the tune itself is catchy, albeit a trifle repetitive it’s a good thing there was no official video, because Baauer can now take his pick from over 12,000 uploaded to YouTube in the last 4 days and an estimated further 4,000 per day, which all feature a 30 second grab of his track.
So what is the Harlem Shake? Well, the premise is incredibly simple and as with all great viral meme’s it’s also incredibly sharable and very entertaining. Rather than describe it to you, I’d suggest you watch a few of the great examples below, in the meantime, if you’d like to create your own version of the Harlem Shake you’ll need the following recipe:
1 person dancing wearing a full faced helmet or mask (helmet not mandatory)
1 unusual location
1 dramatic jump cut
A group of people ignoring you
Outrageous costumes
A bunch of random props
1 x 30 second grab of Baauer’s Harlem Shake
Mix Helmet or mask wearing dancer and unique location with the intro to the song. Make sure that you DO NOT combine the other group of people; these should continue to ignore the helmet wearing dancer until the song is ready.
Wait till the beat drops and you hear the Lyrics Do the Harlem Shake”, now you need to mix in the Jump Cut and combine the rest of the crowd. If possible, the crowd should now be mixed well with the outrageous costumes, performing strange dance moves and sprinkled liberally with random props. Feel free to add your own twist, after all it’s your meme now.
So why is this just the tip of the Iceberg?
As we saw with Gangnam style last year the global power of a platform like YouTube means that its influence extends beyond that of any traditional broadcast medium, so it can reach a huge number of people very quickly. The other great thing about a platform like YouTube is that it gives everyone a voice, which means that content, is made by the people for the people, and unlike the government of the people for the people etc this actually seems to work.
So as more people have fun with content like this and as technology becomes more accessible, the Harlem Shake meme may well grow to become the next Gangnam Style, but it won’t stay on top for long because there are now 4 billion content creators out there with some pretty great ideas too.

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