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Pitch Please: ‘Shake’ sensation

27 February 2013 By Kristopher Jones, Columnist No Comments

Baauer’s unexpected hit “Harlem Shake” (which has nothing to do with the neighborhood of Harlem or shaking of any sort) hit the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 last week.

Not only did it just hit the No. 1 spot, it debuted there, a pretty amazing feat for a person who literally came out of nowhere and started a major trend within two weeks.

I had assumed that the radio had picked up the song and was rotating it like crazy and the single was selling like hotcakes.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I checked radio play updates and Baauer wasn’t even within the top 30 of airplay impressions.

The sales, though impressive, were also not enough to propel it to the summit.

After some in-depth research on the matter (a quick Google search), I found an article published by the New York Times the same day they announced Baauer’s triumph.

Apparently, when they calculate the Billboard Hot 100 chart positions now, they have implemented a change where YouTube streaming is included.

This totally explains why Baauer was able to achieve what PSY couldn’t when “Gangnam Style” was gaining millions of views per day in late 2012.

With close to 4,000 fan-made “Harlem Shake” videos, there is no question why it was able to bypass a lot of other songs.

This could be coincidental, since YouTube and Billboard have been in talks for two years about using them in their calculations, but it seems just too perfect in my opinion.

I didn’t have a problem when they decided to include streaming from Spotify and other music services into the formula, but with this new development, I’m kind of torn.

On one hand, it would allow acts who struggle with selling their music but get a lot of YouTube hits a chance at a decent chart position. This would allow the charts to have more diversity and expose people to new music, which I am all for.

On the other, it makes it a lot easier for those who do sell those numbers and who have large amounts of video views to get number one songs more easily.

I do not want to keep seeing acts like Justin Bieber, One Direction and Pitbull alternating between the top three spots on the charts week in and week out.

Baauer might as well enjoy this for the time since this meme turned mainstream is reaching its peak and we may not get any more for a while unless the “Macarena” becomes a thing again.


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