The popularity of certain virals has always been a mystery to me. How does a video of an inane lone dancer waving his arms about oblivious to the surrounding crowd, followed by said crowd freaking out and going nuts to the sound of a catchy beat, suddenly become one of the most popular phenomena of recent online history?
I’m talking of course about the Harlem Shake.
On the off chance that you haven’t come across this delight of internet memeness feast your eyes on the below.
I say on the off chance, the latest Hitwise data shows that in the last four weeks 5% of Harlem Shake searches included the word ‘what’ indicating that there is still a significant number of people who haven’t come across the viral craze yet. The most popular search variations demonstrate this perfectly with the third most popular search term for the Harlem Shake being ‘what is the harlem shake’.
What surprised me is just how popular Harlem Shake has become in a very short space of time. In less than two weeks it managed to surpass Gangnam Style’s highest peak of search traffic – accounting for 1 in every 1600 searches in the UK for the week ending 23 February 2013.
From the look of this chart, Harlem Shake is not likely to enjoy quite same longevity as Gangnam Style did last year, but it did receive 24% more searches at its peak than any single week of Gangnam’s dominance. So Harlem Shake may well be a flash in the pan but that flash has proven exceptionally bright.
What remains to be seen is how future music virals will fare. Will they enjoy the lasting success of Gangnam Style, or are all such virals now doomed to attract the attention of the craving online public for a few brief moments before rapidly fading into obscurity? The problem is, unlike most internet trends, there is no predictable pattern with virals and therefore it’s anyone’s guess what will happen with the next big thing. I have written in a number of posts about the benefits and perils of trying to predict the internet, with virals I think it is easier to say we just know.
Until next month.