Ever since February 2, 2013, the internet has been figuratively exploding with “Harlem Shake” parody videos like a dance-filled pinata aggressively struck by famous steroid enthusiast Mark McGuire. After a little more than a month of snowballing into a fucking glacier, we are left wondering is this meme will ever die.
Albert Leopold Boyce, who died in 2006, invented this dance phenomenon. He drunkenly performed it during basketball tournaments in Rucker Park, New York. Six years after Albert Boyce’s alcohol-related death, on May 22, 2012, Bauer released the song “Harlem Shake.” It has since become a modern day “Gangnam Style.”
The videos begin with one person dancing and then an omnipotent voice, perhaps the voice of God or Satan, says “We do the Harlem Shake” and suddenly a group of people suddenly have ridiculous outfits on and are gyrating and flailing wildly.
“Harlem Shake” has already set itself aside as the biggest meme of 2013. As far as I am concerned its popularity is untouchable for the rest of the calendar year. The song by Bauer has spent a couple weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, thanks in part to Soundscan’s recent implementation of Youtube view data in the charting of songs. This makes “Harlem Shake” by Bauer the first modern hit.
Bauer may be destined to be a one-hit wonder, but “Harlem Shake” is destined to be a staple at every shitty wedding you attend for at least the next five years, along with “Gangnam Style” and every song that commands you to do some sort of “slide.” This is the legacy of Bauer and of Albert Boyce.
As we continue to ride the cresting wave of “Harlem Shake” like Frankie Avalon in one of the classic “Beach Party” films, we should think back to the dance crazes of our lifetime. From “Gangnam Style” to “The Macarena.” Where were you the first time you did “The Tootsie Roll.” How many times have you done “The Bartman”? Dance songs bring us together. “Gangnam Style” ended the war in Iraq. Say what you will about Psy or Bauer, but they are better human beings than you or I.