The Harlem Shake is a series of viral Youtube videos that features one man or woman standing in the middle of a setting with various bored/nonchalant bystanders (in the case of this one, it’s a subway car full of startled passengers.) Halfway through the song, at the climactic peak, the video “smash cut(s) to the entire room going nuts in the most ridiculous ways possible.” Thank you, Mashable’s extensive research into the first viral hit of 2013. Students have done it, firefighters have done it. Even T-Pain’s done it.
Now that we know how it has progressed to its viral peak, I have to ask why? Why is the premise so popular?
Mashable themselves gave a hypothesis: “The videos are so short, you can easily consume a dozen of them in a ten-minute lunch break.”
My guess is that it’s also because so many new videos are being uploaded, there is fresh content to see almost daily. And, because the premise is simple and silly, more people are willing to spend a bit of time creating them.
Have you heard it, though? The beat is so grating to the ears and nerves that it’s almost calming to be released from the pain of its driving force.
This may sound terribly old of me to ask but, is this what they call EDM?
Electronic Dance Music, what I once associated with musicians like Nine Inch Nails (industrial), Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Tiesto and Paul Oakenfold.
Now it’s associated with strange man-child-android hybrids named things like Skrillex and Dangermou5. Dangermou-five? Is that how you say it?
I’m being facetious, but I only ask this because it feels like popular music sometimes swings into this noisy mess that I can’t relate to. It happened when I was a child and grunge came out. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the true genius out of musicians like Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Bradley Nowell or, hell, even Billy Armstrong (although I do remember jumping like a gleeful punk to “When I Come Around” at the age of ten).
So perhaps this is the point at which I come to a startling conclusion: maybe I’ll “get” Skrillex when I’m older and wiser?
I won’t get the Harlem Shake videos, though. It’s just too weird and strange for me. Maybe I didn’t go to the right raves when I was growing up.
Who am I kidding? I didn’t go to any raves when I was growing up.
Update, Sunday, February 17th: Professional music geek Alan Cross also agrees with me. I contacted him to ask his opinion on the Harlem Shake and his response was succinct: “I don’t get it, either. I’m purposely ignoring it.” Thanks, Alan!