The Internet meme of 2013 makes its mark at OSU
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 21:02
In May 2012, American DJ and Producer, Baauer, released a song titled “Harlem Shake.” Nine months later, the song — at least the first 30 seconds of it — has created an almost overnight Internet video craze.
The Harlem Shake phenomenon is a short music video accompanying Baauer’s song. With a running time typically no longer than 30 seconds, each video starts with an individual dancing alone while surrounding persons nonchalantly continue with whatever it is they are doing.
As soon as the bass drops, however, the video cuts to the same setting with all the previously unfazed bystanders participating in a wild dance party. Each person sports a different costume or getup and repeatedly performs some dance move until the video is warped into slow motion and ends.
Type “Harlem Shake” on YouTube and nearly 80,000 results show up. Of those 80,000 videos currently listed, 53,500 were uploaded in the last month alone.
“The videos themselves are quite literally viral,” said Tim Carmody, a senior writer and reporter for the pop-culture blog, The Verge.
While news stations, professional sports teams and even some SeaWorld staff — animals included — have uploaded their renditions of the Harlem Shake. The trend has become especially popular on college campuses.
Various Oregon State University students, employees of Java II and the OSU crew team have taken time to produce their own versions of the Internet fad.
Brooke Agather, a junior at OSU and barista at Java II, organized a Harlem Shake in the library’s coffee shop she hoped would serve as a bonding activity for the shop’s employees.
“Recently, everyone that’s worked together has really gotten along and wanted to hangout outside of work,” Agather said. “We were trying to think of a good way to kind of get everyone closer in bond, and what better way than to make a viral YouTube video.”
The “Harlem Shake (College Edition)” was the first of four Harlem Shake videos generated by the OSU community to hit YouTube. The video features not only OSU students but staff members as well, and has reached almost 300,000 YouTube views already.
Stories regarding the Harlem Shake have been featured in the national news lately, including sources like the Washington Examiner, Los Angeles Times and ABC News. But, what have recently made headlines are the not-so-positive reactions. In particular, some residents of one of New York City’s oldest neighborhoods, which the song is named after, are not too happy.
In a video published by the Huffington Post, filmmaker Chris McGuire took to the streets of Harlem where he asked locals what they thought of the viral video trend.
In McGuire’s video, one young man assured him that no one living in Harlem would actually do what was being portrayed in the Harlem Shake videos.
Another man interviewed by McGuire said the videos incorrectly depict the true Harlem Shake dance.
Brenn Vick, a sophomore at OSU, thinks the imitative nature of the Harlem Shake makes the videos very bland.
“I hate when people have to follow the latest trend instead of using their own creativity,” Vick said.
Vedanth Narayanan, a sophomore at OSU and main organizer of the Harlem Shake video filmed in front of the Memorial Union, agreed that any negative feedback mostly concerned a lack of the actual dance move.
“I think the only problem people had was that apparently there’s this Harlem Shake, the move itself, that no one did [in the video],” Narayanan said.
Originally called the “Albee,” the Harlem Shake dance emerged in Harlem in 1981 and became mainstream in 2001 following the release of then-popular American rap artist G.Dep’s music video titled “Let’s Get It.”
The original Harlem Shake is an eccentric upper body dance move involving the shaking of the torso and shoulders. It bears strong resemblance to Eskesta, a dance exercised in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
Regardless of the trend’s diverse responses, the Harlem Shake videos have undeniably become an Internet sensation and grassroots craze adaptable for the enjoyment and participation of all ages. It is safe to say thousands more versions will hit the Internet in the coming weeks with numerous universities, sports teams, organizations or groups uploading their rendition that they can revisit and savor years from now.
Gabriella Morrongiello, news reporter