Your Daily Dose of NPR Enlightenment

From African Mummies to the Harlem Shake

In All Things Considered, History, International, Music, Pop Culture on February 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

I’ll admit, I was late to the Harlem Shake phenomenon. A 30-second video where one person dances to a dubstep beat surrounded by people seemingly going about a task not paying attention, then 15 seconds in the video cuts to everyone dancing with obscure costumes and props. Here NPR speaks with Jay Smooth, Harlemite and host of the hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine, about the origin of the Harlem Shake and how it has evolved into the popular meme.

Also worth a read: Long Before the Harlem Shake, We Did the Shimmy

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  1. What’s really interesting about “Harlem Shake” is how quickly it went from nowhere to peak to begin to fade and be replaced by the next YouTube wonder.
    Nothing that appears there seems to have much staying power. Andy Warhol at least gave us 15 minutes, YouTube video fame seems to wane within seconds of it being viewed.

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