Tag Archive: harlem shake

  1. Shaking Up the Hot 100, For Better and For Worse

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    Last week, with the help of an especially viral meme, Baauer’s woozy trap song “Harlem Shake” rocketed to the top spot of Billboard’s Hot 100. Some critics cried foul that what they perceived was a “bad song” was now No. 1 in the U.S., as if that spot represented an endorsement — though it is actually a reporting of fact. “Harlem Shake”’s victory was propelled by a big change in Billboard and Nielsen’s tracking methodology. In a press release, Billboard announced that it would now factor “all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen’s streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100.” This meant that each view of each reproduction of the “Harlem Shake” meme pushed the song further up the charts.

    The change is long overdue. One need not look back further than last year to find examples of viral music videos that would have benefited from this shift — PSY, Gotye and Carly Rae Jepsen come to mind. PSY, in particular, could have used the push; thanks to its radio dominance, Maroon 5’s “One More Night” kept “Gangnam Style” from ever reaching the top spot, despite the song’s ubiquity last fall. But viral music videos were not a 2012 phenomenon. Past musical memes that undoubtedly would have charted high include most of The Lonely Island’s repertoire, The Gregory Brothers’ “Bed Intruder Song” and, of course, Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

    If it bothers you that “Friday” probably should have been a top 20 hit, just like it’s bothering certain parties that “Harlem Shake” is now No. 1, then it’s time you reassess the charts. Billboard and Nielsen’s purpose is to track music consumption; while what’s successful and what’s not have ramifications for pop music’s future, quality is irrelevant. It should also be noted that “Harlem Shake” was not the only benefactor of the change; Rihanna and Drake both posted gains this week from the strength of YouTube streams of their new singles and videos. To complain that “Friday” or “Harlem Shake” is charting high because they are bad songs misses the point that the chart describes our consumption patterns rather than prescribing them.

    But “Harlem Shake” is different from its viral predecessors. Whereas viewers watched until the very end of the “Call Me Maybe” video to soak in its final twist, a “Harlem Shake” video is gone in 30 seconds. That’s only a sixth of the entire song’s length. One could argue that the song is only ancillary to the real action: the midway switch, the manic flailing, the random props. It’s as if there could have been any bass-y club track underpinning the madness, and it would have been just as much of a hit. The lumping together of all user-generated content that uses authorized audio regardless of length represents a large oversight in Billboard’s analysis. One wonders how many songs will become No. 1 based on tiny excerpts. True to fashion, the meme machine has already set the stage for this scenario: that screaming goat remix of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” The video, which is 25 seconds long, has racked up over 2 million views in just four days. Does that mean that “Trouble” will be the Hot 100’s champion next week? It may be hard to tell, as the song is already far up the top 10, but the premise that repeat viewings of half of its chorus could put it there is just absurd.

    As ham-handed as Billboard’s decision was to make the change when it just so happens to coincide with a viral event, they deserve credit for trying to increase the accuracy of consumption now rather than never. Maintaining this accuracy, however, will require more careful attention paid to the nuances of YouTube’s remix culture. Hopefully Billboard decides what truly counts as a single consumption of a song, and history will look upon these fleeting viral hits as a blip in the data.

  2. Shaking Up the Hot 100, For Better and For Worse

    Leave a Comment

    Last week, with the help of an especially viral meme, Baauer’s woozy trap song “Harlem Shake” rocketed to the top spot of Billboard’s Hot 100. Some critics cried foul that what they perceived was a “bad song” was now No. 1 in the U.S., as if that spot represented an endorsement — though it is actually a reporting of fact. “Harlem Shake”’s victory was propelled by a big change in Billboard and Nielsen’s tracking methodology. In a press release, Billboard announced that it would now factor “all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen’s streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100.” This meant that each view of each reproduction of the “Harlem Shake” meme pushed the song further up the charts.
    The change is long overdue. One need not look back further than last year to find examples of viral music videos that would have benefited from this shift — PSY, Gotye and Carly Rae Jepsen come to mind. PSY, in particular, could have used the push; thanks to its radio dominance, Maroon 5’s “One More Night” kept “Gangnam Style” from ever reaching the top spot, despite the song’s ubiquity last fall. But viral music videos were not a 2012 phenomenon. Past musical memes that undoubtedly would have charted high include most of The Lonely Island’s repertoire, The Gregory Brothers’ “Bed Intruder Song” and, of course, Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”
    If it bothers you that “Friday” probably should have been a top 20 hit, just like it’s bothering certain parties that “Harlem Shake” is now No. 1, then it’s time you reassess the charts. Billboard and Nielsen’s purpose is to track music consumption; while what’s successful and what’s not have ramifications for pop music’s future, quality is irrelevant. It should also be noted that “Harlem Shake” was not the only benefactor of the change; Rihanna and Drake both posted gains this week from the strength of YouTube streams of their new singles and videos. To complain that “Friday” or “Harlem Shake” is charting high because they are bad songs misses the point that the chart describes our consumption patterns rather than prescribing them.
    But “Harlem Shake” is different from its viral predecessors. Whereas viewers watched until the very end of the “Call Me Maybe” video to soak in its final twist, a “Harlem Shake” video is gone in 30 seconds. That’s only a sixth of the entire song’s length. One could argue that the song is only ancillary to the real action: the midway switch, the manic flailing, the random props. It’s as if there could have been any bass-y club track underpinning the madness, and it would have been just as much of a hit. The lumping together of all user-generated content that uses authorized audio regardless of length represents a large oversight in Billboard’s analysis. One wonders how many songs will become No. 1 based on tiny excerpts. True to fashion, the meme machine has already set the stage for this scenario: that screaming goat remix of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” The video, which is 25 seconds long, has racked up over 2 million views in just four days. Does that mean that “Trouble” will be the Hot 100’s champion next week? It may be hard to tell, as the song is already far up the top 10, but the premise that repeat viewings of half of its chorus could put it there is just absurd.
    As ham-handed as Billboard’s decision was to make the change when it just so happens to coincide with a viral event, they deserve credit for trying to increase the accuracy of consumption now rather than never. Maintaining this accuracy, however, will require more careful attention paid to the nuances of YouTube’s remix culture. Hopefully Billboard decides what truly counts as a single consumption of a song, and history will look upon these fleeting viral hits as a blip in the data.

  3. Yale does the Harlem Shake

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    If you’re looking to get Smooch’d this Valentine’s Day, you may just have to learn the Harlem Shake.

    As part of an advertising effort for their Valentine’s Day party, the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon have created their own version of the Harlem Shake. Though not officially authorized by the fraternity, the video — filmed by Andrew Goble ’15 — features more than a dozen SigEp fraternity brothers enjoying 37 seconds of pure madness, a fabulous yellow onesie and some pretty questionable dance moves.

    Let’s take a closer look at said moves. Vying for the spotlight, one SigEp brother rides a pink flamingo, another rubs his chest with an iron while a third repeatedly smashes a bottle into his head. Are these the moves we’re expected to bring to the dance floor at Elevate this Thursday? It’s questionable.

    But be careful who you smooch on V-Day, because we hear that Harlem Shake fever at Yale has become pretty contagious.

    This afternoon, freshmen in Jonathan Edwards took advantage of Yale’s second snow day and created their own version entitled the Farnam Shake. The video was the brainchild of Louis Metcalfe ’16, who posted in the JE Facebook group asking students to dress up in costumes and convene in the library. It opens on nine students innocently doing their homework, until their study room is overtaken by masses of gyrating freshmen wrapped in capes and even dancing on top of the bookshelves.

    Morse decided to get in on the action as well, with Morse suite C32 releasing their own version of the Shake sans crazy dance moves. Perhaps making an ode to snow day chilling, the video begins with David Pitera ’15 doing the Harlem Shake, until he decides to stop and join his friends in lounging and playing video games.

    Unofficially dubbed the new “Gangnam Style,” the Harlem Shake craze is taking over campus. Look out, Toad’s dance floor: This Wednesday, you won’t even know what hit you.

    The SigEp Shake:

    Update Feb. 13: This video has been removed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvBabdqKxIo

    The Farnam Shake:

    Morse C32 Shake:

    The crew team shake:

    The Zeta Psi pledge shake:

    The Yale SOM shake:

    Yale Med/Nursing shake:

    Clarification: Feb. 13, 2013

    Though the SigEp Harlem Shake video features students in the fraternity and was advertising a fraternity event, it was not officially authorized by the fraternity.