Let's Do the Harlem Shake!
March 29, 2013
Last month we celebrated Teen Tech Week in a really fun way at the South Independence Branch. We made our own video, and we capitalized on the newest craze sweeping the Internet. Filthy Frank, a vlogger on YouTube who is known for his "Pink Guy" pranks, created the first video. It features "Pink Guy" and several other odd looking characters dancing around a room to a clip from Baauer's "Harlem Shake" song.
From there, a group of Aussie teens made a response video, and the form of the meme was born. The general concept includes one person (often in a mask or helmet) dancing by themself (or in a normal setting, but being ignored by bystanders) until the beat drops. Pandemonium ensues as the scene cuts to a big party group, often in humorous costumes. The whole video usually lasts less than a minute. The responses have ranged from college students to military troops to sports teams to schools... you name it, they've Harlem Shake-ed it.
How is everyone getting away with this? Baauer and his record label, Mad Decent, are taking advantage of software developed by Google called ContentID. It automatically looks for copyrighted materials used on YouTube. In collaboration with INDMusic, the label is then able to insert an ad into said video and laugh all the way to the bank. It's a win-win. The label gets free promotion, Baauer's song is skyrocketing up the charts, and everyone and their dog (literally) is making their own version of the video. Read more about this here.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however. There are new claims that artist Baauer used samples for his famous song without permission. Hector Delgado and Jayson Musson are now seeking their just due. They want a cut of the pie that they helped create. At this point, no legal action has been taken, but it just goes to show you that copyright is a sticky wicket.
For those of you who are curious as to what exactly the Harlem Shake is: the original Harlem Shake is a dance that originated in 1981 in Harlem, New York by Al B. It was initially called "the albee" until its prominence grew. There are actual choreographed moves, but it does look a little like "a drunken shake," it's creator is quoted as saying. Some residents of Harlem haven't taken too kindly to the meme, so if you're visiting Harlem in the near future, you might want to keep that in mind.
South Independence Branch