A long time ago, when I was in my youth (which was 3 years ago) the world contracted something known as the “Harlem Shake”. Anyone or (anything) could get it and it spread so quickly that it was no longer only found in Harlem, but could be found all over the world – all thanks to the Internet.  Through this we were able to see how activities motivated by music spread all over the world using the Internet and its infectious ability.

Our national armies got it…


Even dogs were not safe…



It was even in the air…



I am sure that the American electronic musician Baauer created this viral hit, he never knew that the world would turn it into a 30 second wonder and everyone would have a story of the time they had to do the “Harlem Shake”.


Above: Bauuer – the musician who created the “Harlem Shake”. Source: Facebook


The “Harlem Shake” attacks in two stages:

Stage 1:

In the introduction (about 15 seconds) one person dances rather awkwardly either alone or in a room full of people until the bass drops (Stage 2).

Stage 2:

When the bass finally drops, the one person will be either be joined by other people who dance rather awkwardly or have all the people that s/he is already around join in on the awkward dance.

The “Harlem Shake” Internet meme started with a vlogger named Filthy Frank and his video, but it was five Australian teenagers who call themselves TheSunnyCoastSkate that developed the “Harlem Shake” into the two-part video we now know today.

What made the “Harlem Shake” so sensational is that as it spread, more and more people download the song, replicated the TheSunnyCoastSkate and uploaded their own videos, quickly turning it into an Internet meme and a YouTube trend.

Billboard used this to change its methodology and factor YouTube streaming data in the chart adding onto its existing consideration of digital download track sales “as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming”.

By February 21, 2013 the “Harlem Shake” debuted at #1 of the Billboard Hot 100. If Billboard had not made the change to its methodology, it is believed the song would have only debuted in the Top 15. It even kicked Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop”‘s butt (and we all know that was a jam).

The “Harlem Shake” changed the music industry and the Internet community completely. Since then, more songs have gained popularity by having a cool dance routine (that others mimick) and being turned into Internet memes, even changing the Hip Hop scene completely with countless vine videos being shared by people and some of them being selected to be compiled into a single video. 

The mimicking in the Internet video memes

The Internet’s instant communication has allowed for the spread of these music video memes through the hyperconnection facilitated by social media. The memes are posted on social media and shared across multiple networks gaining fame and causing a social phenomenon that spreads like the flu.

Silento combined all the memes that included his “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” track and used a compilation of them in the beginning of the music video of the song:



The evolution of the “Harlem Shake” is amazing, once you think of it. It was just another song, but then the  world caught wind of one video. That video created many more videos and because of this, a song that could have been just another song, got the recognition it deserved and became not only a song, but the song.

It not only changed how we decide Billboard  hits, but it also started a trend that allowed musicians to gain fame without having to go through the traditional (and expensive) methods of gaining international fame. The brevity of the videos is what ensures the public’s attention and participation as we have seen with tracks like iLoveMemphis’s “Hit the Quan” and DLOW’s “Do It Like Me“.




The sharing of music video memes has developed a platform that not only recognises music and its digital imprint, but also uses the Internet to give it a voice and a presence.

The songs that have gained fame in the digital music industry and their artists have gained popularity in the most funnest way ever and they also keep on evolving allowing people to not only enjoy the music, but share themselves enjoying the music.There is no ignoring the fact that music has made it into a digital era and enough proof has been given to ascertain that music is no longer how it used to be yesterday and it is either you catch up with the rhythm or you will be left with just the beat.







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