Do you all remember the Harlem Shake?
About eight months ago, it was everywhere. It escalated from a song, to a meme, to a parody, all the way to its own subculture. What was once fun, energetic and quirky, became old, overdone and excruciating very quickly.
And then, like a whisper in the wind, it disappeared. I couldn’t even pinpoint the precise time it left national consciousness. But it did. And until about a few hours ago, I forgot that it even existed.
But what made me think about it today is the new “funny song” that has suddenly emerged in pop culture. Some of you may or may not have heard it. Perhaps you just heard it talked about. But, either way, here it is.
I present to you: The Fox, by Ylvis.
A lot of you are probably thinking different things after viewing that. But the prevailing thought, regardless of what your opinion is, should be: “What the hell did I just watch?”
Because this song is very different. It’s not something you watch and say, “Oh, OK, that was normal.”
But let me go about explaining why this song is the new Harlem Shake. Only then can you understand where I am going with this.
For one, both songs are extremely unconventional. Harlem Shake, composed by German-American DJ Baauer, is an electro-house, synth-riff heavy dance jam unlike anything you’d hear on the radio. The Fox, meanwhile, isn’t even meant to be a serious song. Indeed, it’s written and performed by a Norweigian comedy duo and brothers named Vegard and Bård Urheim Ylvisåker.
So, if you’re keeping score at home, you have Baauer, Vegard and Bard. It sounds like the worst law firm ever.
Second, both songs were heightened almost exclusively by social media. You can’t use one metric to fully evaluate the impact YouTube had on Harlem Shake, because there’s so many videos. Its top parody, featuring the Noreweigan army (Norway again!) garnered 94 million views, 10 different parody versions (including the original) have accrued more than 25 million, and the actual music video itself has another 42 million. I don’t need my abacus to tell me that’s a lot.
The Fox, on the other hand, is a lot easier to define. In just under two months, it has more than 173 million views.
Thirdly, the two songs’ social media success resulted in commercial success for each. People forget that not only did Harlem Shake reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it stayed there for five consecutive weeks. And as we speak, The Fox is #6 on that very same chart. That, to me, is the real indicator when you know that shit is getting real. The Billboard Hot 100 ranks songs based on digital and physical sales, and airplay. So if it’s up there, that means it is getting around.
Last, and most importantly, both songs are catchy. Why do you think Harlem Shake lasted so long? It’s because people actually enjoyed hearing it. It made us want to dance. And the huge dance drop about 16 seconds in nearly became iconic.
If you actually listen to The Fox, the singers sound pretty good. Disregarding the lyrics, the vocals are pretty smooth on the ears, until you get to the chorus, of course, which is when the song is not meant to be taken seriously anymore.
However, people are taking it seriously. For now. I’ve seen people praising the song on Facebook and Twitter. It’s yet to reach its peak popularity — or notoriety — so no one is sick of it yet.
But, like the Harlem Shake, it will not take very long for The Fox to be despised. And trust me, it will be. Maliciously.
It will have a longer shelf life, though, because, again — it’s a joke. The song was created by comics, not singers. This isn’t Rebecca Black trying to become famous. This is two dudes with weird punctuation in their names trying to make people laugh. And right now, they are.
But soon, those laughs will turn into tears.
And not tears of joy.