Harlem Shake New Rival to Gangnam Style

A new year, a new dance, and a new challenger for the biggest craze on the Internet. The Harlem Shake is the biggest new thing on the block.

It has shot to prominence in the last couple of weeks, even though the music which has inspired it has been around since last May, which is when the song Harlem Shake was released by US DJ Baauer. It is only now, when scores of people have picked it and posted their own dances to the track on YouTube, that the concept and phrase have boomed.

So why does it work? I think it is because it ticks all the boxes for something to go viral. Fundamentally, it is easy to do and anybody can take part. A typical Harlem Shake video consists of 15 seconds of one person doing the shoulder-rolling dance, usually wearing a mask. Then everybody who was previously in shot but static is suddenly seen dancing along in equally manic fashion. And that’s basically it.

Of course the fact that it’s ludicrous helps. It is as silly as planking or Tebowing, ridiculous activities that people can partake in and share with their friends. And it has also picked up the Gangnam Style ability to get celebrities to take part, and we are already awash with football teams and other well-known groups of people doing their own Harlem Shake to get in on the act. It feels like Gangnam Style all over again.

So it is no shock that this phenomenon has taken off in the way that it has. And that means that Harlem Shake will inevitably feature in the shake-up at end of 2013 when it comes to discussing the words of the year.

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