Who Hasn’t Done the Harlem Shake?

Everywhere I look, someone is posting a video of the Harlem Shake on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube! I have seen Jimmy John’s employees shaking it, middle school children shaking it in prep for the upcoming ISTEP, the Simpsons, you name it! These videos have gone viral. The “Harlem Shake” song came out of nowhere and went from being unknown to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart Feb. 20. Billboard just added YouTube views to the way it ranks the Top 100 songs.The videos are entertaining and it’s interesting to see each one’s different creative aspects.  People are even going so far as to organize a rendition of the Harlem Shake on an airplane! Yep! ‘Shakes on a Plane!’ 🙂


NPR reports that while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hasn’t mentioned any specific violations from the clip that was shared across Internet and social media sites, they said they’ll be looking into whether or not the amount of passengers jumping around in the aisle — around the 15-second mark of the video — is in violation of the plane’s mid-flight safety regulations, even though the video’s creator had permission by the flight staff and other passengers to do the video. Perhaps the sky is the limit on the Harlem Shake? This makes me wonder, what is considered taking a trend too far?

Creating this kind of buzz fits into the parameters of “buzz marketing”, but getting the FAA or other criminal investigative organizations involved in a simple video creation seems a bit out of control. Creating buzz is relatively inexpensive (most of these videos are created by individuals just wanting to join in on the fun, using their own cameras and equipment); they are unique, where each encounter looks like a spontaneous event and is highly desirable to the 20-something’s; and is the rise of the Internet – carrying an unknown/unheard of song to the top of the music charts. Personally, these videos are what I would consider to be the newest version of a flash mob. I’m sitting here wondering what’s next? The Harlem Shake was fun for a minute, but I’m over it now…

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6 thoughts on “Who Hasn’t Done the Harlem Shake?

  1. I think the Harlem Shake has taken on a renewed life as its own virality has turned into a competition of sorts. It is nearly ubiquitous, especially at the college level. I was working a track and field meet a couple weeks ago and immediately after the meet, all eleven teams were gathered in the middle of the track and asked by the PA announcer to face to a video camera on a balcony above the track. Everyone knew what to do – the Harlem Shake – it was a bit chilling to see how powerful the viral nature was in informing people what it was, but more awesome because it helped a bunch of kids (hundreds) that rarely all see each other together form a special bond. Though, I take it this was one of the better iterations of the Shake. I’ve had to roll my eyes at some other less successful attempts. Check out the GLVC attempt here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4qn30j4_Ho

    • Thanks for sharing the video! It is quite amazing that so many people “just know what to do”. People of all ages are catching on this phenomenon. I would love to see one with a bunch of toddlers. That would be priceless!

      • The Harlem Shake phenomenon is similar to the Gangnam Style dance that also went viral!

        Here are two twin toddlers dancing the Gangnam Style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emdaG7KSQpQ (especially watch from :50 to 1:05, it’s priceless!)

        But what your post alluded to that is worth discussing are the potential consequences of not following the rules. Posting a video because it’s fun and popular doesn’t mean certain rules aren’t being violated, and regulatory personnel should not still penalize the wrong-doers. Even if the public sides with the video producer, the law is the law for a reason.

        One great example is the Spike TV reality show, COAL. The show follows miners into the coal mines, and often shows life-threatening situations. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) watched the show and cited Cobalt Coal Corporation for several mining violations.

        This was the first time MSHA ever cited a corporation based on TV footage, but I wouldn’t be surprised if such citations happened more frequently from YouTube videos. What about filming your friend driving 50mph is a 25mph zone? Can the police send the person a speeding ticket? It’s more or less the equivalent of the the video cameras set up at intersections and taking photos of speeders.

      • OMGosh! That video was hilarious! When I said that creating a video like the plane one is “out of control”, I should have been more clear in saying that orchestrating something on an airplane like that is taking the trend a bit out of control. Creating a silly little video in hopes it goes viral is not worth getting in trouble by a federal agency. So, I think you and I are on the same page, I just didn’t say it as well as I could have. 🙂

  2. There is a Harlem Shake App! It’s free in the App Store. The app helps users edit and create a Harlem Shake video. I don’t think that this trend will be going out of style anytime soon!

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