Harlem Shake

Album: Single Release Only (2012)
Charted: 3 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Harry "Baauer" Rodrigues is an American producer from Brooklyn, New York whose style we've seen described as "Electro Trap." Trap music originated from the American southern hip-hop scene from crunk. It gets its name from dangerous neighborhoods, which are referred to as "the trap." In 2012 a movement began within EDM which incorporated elements of trap music, and Baauer was one of the electronic producers involved in this development.

    This song was originally released as a free digital download by Mad Decent imprint label Jeffree's on May 22, 2012. Several months later, it was propelled from obscurity by a YouTube video posted by Filthy Frank on his DisastaMusic channel on Feb. 2, 2013 that developed into an Internet meme. Within a couple of weeks these 30-second video interpretations were being uploaded by fans at the rate of several thousands a day, racking up millions of YouTube views.
  • Baauer intended to make the song stand out by adding a variety of peculiar sounds. They include growling-lion noises as well as the vocal, "then do the Harlem shake", from Plastic Little's 2001 song "Miller Time", and a sample of a woman yelling "con los terroristas", taken from an a cappella version of a 2010 remix for the track "Con Alegria" by Gregor Salto, DJ Solo, and DJ Gregory.
  • The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #1, helped by a timely change in the compilation of the track countdown. The tune's sudden popularity coincided with YouTube streaming data being incorporated on the chart for the first time.
  • This was the 21st song ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at its peak position. More notably, it was the first song to debut at #1 by an artist essentially unknown prior to charting. Clay Aiken, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood were the three previous artists whose first visit to the chart was with a number one-debuting song. Each one of them were, however, already familiar names thanks to their exposure on American Idol.
  • The song's success inspired New York rapper Azealia Banks to release a downloadable freestyle over his beat, which she released to SoundCloud on February 14, 2013. Bauuer was less than enthusiastic about the unsolicited remix, and had it removed from Banks' SoundCloud, resulting in a Twitter argument between the pair. Speaking with the The Daily Beast, Baauer explained that he had planned to release a version of the song with Banks quite a while ago, but when her verse wasn't up to scratch, he decided to go with with the instrumental version of the song. "She laid something on 'Harlem Shake' and it was so/so. Didn't love it," he said. "And that was a little while ago, and since all this video stuff happened, our plans all changed. Because of that, we decided to just release the song on its own with no vocal version. So we told her, 'Please don't release your version.' And she said, 'Well, I'm going to put it online anyway.' And we said, 'Please don't. We'd really like it if you didn't.' And she did."

    Banks responded by tweeting: "You don't belong in hip hop ... you don't even know what a f---ing Harlem Shake even is."
  • Rapper Jim Jones had Baauer's beat for this song a year before it exploded, and he even had rapped on the instrumental, but never put it out. "When I started to hear the 'Harlem Shake' and heard the beat, I was like damn, I had the record for a year," Jones explained to Jenny Boom Boom of Hot 93.7. "So I just put the record out. I been had that record before anybody even thought about that record. It was a record for Pauly D's album from Jersey Shore.'"
  • Onetime Jay-Z affiliate, reggaetón artist Héctor Delgado, and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson both claimed Baauer used their material for this song without permission. Delgado created the "Con los terroristas!" sample that was originally heard on "Los Terroristas," and Musson is sampled saying "Harlem Shake!" on "Miller Time." The pair alleged in a copyright lawsuit that Baauer released the track before clearing their samples.
  • The song topped the Hot 100 without any significant radio airplay. The previous tune to reach the summit without featuring on Billboard's Radio Songs tally was Taylor Hicks' " Do I Make You Proud? " in the summer of 2006.

Comments: 2

  • Alamein from Mt Druitt, AustraliaHey, I really like this song it ROCKS!!!
  • Daniel from Winchester, OhI'm surprised there's no comments on this song... weird.
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