Breaking Down The Harlem Shake Internet Meme

The Harlem Shake

There have been a lot of amazing Internet memes over the years and I tend to love them more than most. Some that come to mind are planking, Sad Keanu, Shit People Say and the way over played but still entertaining Call Me Maybe phenomenon. These memes all start in different ways but for me the amazing thing is how fast they can spread and how many people can get involved so quickly.

A new meme that I’ve really been enjoying lately is the Harlem Shake and even though it’s getting to the point of not being cool anymore I’m still having a lot of fun watching the videos that are still being created for it. There are a few reasons why I’m still hooked on them and for me the fun part isn’t just watching them but it’s also figuring out why it became so popular to begin with.

The Harlem Shake meme in particular has a few things about it that makes it more meme-tastic than some of the other ones that have popped up in the past. Here are a few reasons why it’s blown up like it has.

Follow The Taste Maker: There was one guy who started this whole thing and then soon after there was one more that followed. That’s all it took to spark the fire that has now created tens of thousands videos and more than 75 million views.

Fresh Sound: The Harlem Shake is a fresh sound that people love to listen to. The part of the song that’s in the videos is addictive and the lion roar at the end of it is amazing.

Clear Instructions: The instructions were simple for what to do in the video. One person (preferably wearing a mask) dances while other people around them don’t pay attention. Once the song gets to the hight of the progression it quickly changes to lots of people (preferably dressed in costume) dancing like crazy.

Low Commitment: The Harlem Shake videos are around thirty seconds long and only require one simple edit. So easy that anyone can create and upload their own version without having to do a lot of work.

Anyone Can Do It: Whether it’s you and your son, you and your college team or you and your co-workers you’re all able to join in on the fun. Also, once it officially hits meme status being part of it becomes a way to promote yourself or your organization which incentivizes lots of new groups to throw their hat in the ring.

Yep, the Harlem Shake is what I would call the perfect storm for an Internet meme. But don’t take my word for it, here are a few of my favorite videos that will show you just how awesome it is.


Matt and Kim

The Norwegian Army

University of Georgia Swim and Dive Team

One Hour Obsession: Walk Off The Earth

My latest one hour obsession is with a Canadian Indie band called Walk Off The Earth. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the YouTubes lately you will probably know them better by a song that they covered called “Somebody That I Used To Know” in a video where the five members of the band all played one guitar at the same time. At this point the video has been views over 25 million times with about 50 of those coming from me.

Here’s the video I’m talking about. [view on YouTube]

Like I said before, this song is actually a cover which I didn’t realize until after I watched the video like 5 or 6 times. I didn’t really even think about it being a cover due to the fact that the song seems like it’s made for the three people in the band who sing it. All three of them have incredible voices and the fact that they decided to take on the challenge of having all of the play the same guitar was an awesome way to grab the internet’s attention.

Of course, having the guy in the beard just standing there being awesome doesn’t hurt, either.

The song that they covered was originally sung by Gotye (here’s how you pronounce it) and a woman named Kimbra — you can watch it below. [view on YouTube]

I’ve always been interested in viral videos and the background of how they come together, especially for videos like this one that was intentionally created to become viral. Some videos are so crazy that they go viral for unknown reasons, but this one in particular was planned out and executed in a way that I’m sure exceeded the bands wildest expectations.

In case you’re wondering how close the cover is to the original, check out this video that puts them side-by-side. [view on YouTube]

It’s interesting when something like this happens to a someone who’s ready for it, like a band, as opposed to someone randomly getting a one-hit viral wonder because the pay-off it much better. The fact that Walk Off The Earth already has a solid following on YouTube and has been posting videos for a long time feeds the public’s interest in them once they hit the big time with their viral video. This means that they can leverage the attention they’re getting into selling more of their music, booking more shows and potentially getting a label deal (if they want it). In other words, they’re prepared for the success that they’re having, which means that it’s going to benefit them for the long term and not just help them sell a few songs though iTunes.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the video was shot (26 takes for about 14 hours in a kitchen) and the effects of having a viral video of this magnitude you can watch video of an interview below that was posted when their video had around 10 million views. It’s long, but there’s some good stuff in there. [view on YouTube]

It’s going to be fun to keep track of these guys and see what happens from here, but for now I’m going to listen to their song (that I’ve downloaded from both Amazon and iTunes) a few more times.

UPDATE: It looks like things are about to get even crazier for these guys — they just got booked on Ellen for a live performance of their video. No pressure, guys.

The 610 Stompers Make Their Way Into The Big Time

Another Thanksgiving and another Macy’s Day Parade. This time around however, there was something different. Something that stood out from the traditional cheesy performances that I’m used to seeing (like Nickelodeon stars or groups like this).

This year’s parade, however, showed the world what real entertainment is all about. This year’s parade was the year of the 610 Stompers. With the tagline of “Ordinary men with extraordinary moves” they made their way into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day spotlight and made their presence known.

The 610 Stompers are a group of guys from New Orleans who want to show the world that it doesn’t take a Broadway show to entertain the masses — just a group of ordinary men with some sweet moves. Here’s how the 610 Stompers describe what they’re all about:

[quote]The 610 Stompers is a diverse group of ordinary men, from their 20s to their 60s. We are doctors, lawyers, professionals, laborers, students, teachers, and parents. We are different but we’re the same, and we’re brought together by our ongoing desire to entertain the world with our “Extraordinary Moves”, and in doing so, give back to the community that we love.[/quote]

I’m not sure how they made their way onto the big stage in the middle of New York City, but I have a feeling that the Macy’s Day Parade was their big break. We’re going to be hearing more about these dancing from here on out and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Need some more 610 Stompers in your life? I can’t say I blame you. Here are a few more appearances they’ve made over the past couple years.

At the Hornets/Lakers game (they inspired the Hornets to a win)

Their debut performance in New Orleans

Here’s a great article about the 610 Stompers and their rise to Macy’s Day Parade fame. Awesome.

Big props to Brett Patron who’s the leader of the group and who also happens to have an amazing mustache.

My One Hour Obsession With Zombie Boy

I don’t stay obsessed with things for very long. I don’t have a band that I am a huge fan of, there’s not actor/actress that I can’t get enough of and I don’t even get that excited about certain types of foods (well, beside hummus). I’m not sure why I don’t have any long-term obsessions, but that’s just the way that my mind works I guess.

But, I do have what I like to call “one hour obsessions” with all kinds of things — usually when something catches my attention on the internet. It usually starts off innocently enough, but then once I start digging into it I quickly become more obsessed than a teenage girl watching the new Justin Bieber video.

I start off with one thing and then BAM, I end up searching, reading and opening up an infinite amount of tabs full of related websites that I have to check out. It’s like I get a thirst for something and I have to go and go and go until I feel like it’s quenched — and sometimes that can take a while.

My latest one hour obsession was with Zombie Boy, or as his parents call him, Rick Genest. I ended up running into one of his videos on YouTube and it really sparked my curiosity. The funny thing is that the video is actually an ad for Dermablend Concealer.

After I saw that video I saw some other related videos in the sidebar of YouTube that gave me some more information on what this tattooed guy was all about. I quickly learned that Zombie Boy was also the guy who was in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way video a while back. I remember seeing him in that video, but I honestly had no idea that the tattoos he was rocking were real.

I couldn’t stop there though and as I continued to find more out about Zombie Boy. He’s one of the most tattooed men in the world and he has become quite the big deal on the fashion runway, which I think is pretty awesome. You have a guy who looks like the walking dead taking over an industry that is full of guys who are doing all they can do to look their best. It’s irony at it’s best, I guess.

Here’s a good look at what’s tattooed on his chest…

…and here are the tattoos on his back.

That’s about all that I found out about the man known as Zombie Boy and that’s about as close as I come to being obsessed. It comes, it goes and it’s always fun to see what all I can find when digging up the full story about something like this. Do you ever have any one hour obsessions or am I the only one who does this? Let me know in the comments.

Ok, one more video — here’s his promotional reel.

Annnnd I’m done. For real this time.