What the heck is “Harlem Shake?”

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I do a really fantastic job avoiding really popular viral-type videos. Actually, I do a great job avoiding a lot of really popular things. I’ve never seen “Twilight.” I actually have no idea who 2 Chainz is. Suffice to say, “Harlem Shake” wasn’t something I was racing to listen to or watch.

But I finally did. It’s written about on every website and talked about on the radio enough—I had no choice. All this commotion has to be for a reason, right?

There are no words to explain the mediocrity of this song. The original audio track by Baauer, a DJ from Brooklyn, has over 18 million YouTube views. If you haven’t heard it, here’s a description: a decent, somewhat funky beat with a lot of bass with the words “with the terrorists” in Spanish on repeat throughout the song. The song itself isn’t terrible—there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. Why did it get 18 million views?

Did I forget to mention the dance craze it’s created? There are tons of videos of people dancing in every way imaginable to the song. There doesn’t seem to be any order or actual dance that identifies “Harlem Shake.” It’s just people dancing however they please (think of all the characters on “Charlie Brown” when they danced on stage together).

It really can’t be called bad because there isn’t one single dance that defines it. It’s not like “Gangnam Style” or any other viral dance video. It’s really just people jumping, shaking and rolling around on the floor.

Just say no. Artwork by MANDI STEFFEY
Just say no.

I guess I just don’t get it. As a whole, the song and subsequent YouTube craze don’t deserve the attention they’re getting. People are obsessed with viral videos and jump on those dance bandwagons faster than my finger clicked the red “x” when I saw my first “Harlem Shake” video.

It’s a sad thing that a genuinely decent artist like Baauer had to blow up like this in a viral video. It’s hard for people to bounce back from such a ridiculous craze. Ask Psy from “Gangnam Style.” He’s trying to make a name for himself outside the song with little luck yet. Baauerwill likely get the same treatment unless he proves himself.

Please, everyone—shake off “Harlem Shake” and treat your ears to something else for a while.

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