It’s always a risk writing a blog about memes, I think. You run an inherent risk of being late to the party, and even if you aren’t, it is entirely possible that your blog will be read by someone in 3 weeks time, and will seem hopelessly out of date. Hopefully, by hating on the meme early doors, this post can enjoy some longevity…
For those who don’t know (is there anyone?), the Harlem Shake meme is based around a song of the same name by an artist called Baauer. The artist is not well known, but 7-8 months after releasing the song, people started posting videos of themselves dancing along to it, and his fame has skyrocketed from a position of total obscurity to, well, being blogged about by me. Time will tell if he can surpass that questionable accolade.
It seems to be something of a trend now for dance videos to meme (yes it’s a verb) unexpectedly. PSY’s “Gangnam style” did incredibly well last year, while LMFAO had everyone shuffling along to “Party Rock Anthem”. For any major record label executives hoping to tap into this zeitgeist, I have provided a handy, free checklist to aid your decisions:
- The song must be by a formerly unheard of artist. They will then have 15 minutes of fame from this song, probably meeting several world leaders as a direct result, and then people will grow bored of them. Do not waste your top talent hunting the meme.
- The dance must be out of fashion and ideally, geographically specific. The Harlem Shake originated in… New York (!) and the Melbourne shuffle was resurrected by LMFAO. I can only assume that stablemaids in Seoul have been horse-dancing for many years prior to PSY’s hi-jack of the style. Whatever.
Those of you who know me will probably know that I actually rather like the first two songs and videos. This may elicit a wave of hostile comments (assuming I have readers, which I don’t), but both were very good pop songs. Don’t be musically elitist and tell me they don’t play their own instruments or some bollocks like that, no one cares. They had hooks as catchy as chlamydia and other alliterative associations besides. As a bonus, PSY’s song was even more loved because the white people who spend time on the internet were all terrified that if they didn’t like the song it would make them racist. Embracing it allowed them to say they’d “given K-pop a fair go” and sound a bit more worldly. As a result, I spent time practicing the dance moves in the mirror, elected not to video myself doing them out of better judgement, then lost track of said judgement at friends’ weddings (for some reason) and did them in public anyway. Oh well.
I can only assume that the people who claim not to like the songs were the last to hear them, and reacted typically by proclaiming them overhyped and lame. That may well be what I’m doing right now, but on the other hand, the song by Baauer objectively sucks. It goes nowhere, is lyrically all but totally vacant and driven by an unevolving bassline which brings up haunting memories of the notorious brown note. Seriously, take a listen to the actual song, and see if you can make it all the way through the 3 minutes. I didn’t.
So please, don’t go out and make a video of yourself dancing to this. Even if it’s a good song that would be crass, and it isn’t that. We could all get together and shake at Graem’s wedding, I suppose, but that would mean we have to listen to that noise for 3 minutes.
Uh-oh, did I just refer to music as noise? Shit, I’ve just become my Dad.