After the song logged more than a quarter-billion U.S. streams the past three weeks, radio is joining in on the viral craze.
Is radio getting ready to dance to the "Harlem Shake" at last?
Airplay still accounts for less than 1% of the song's overall Billboard Hot 100 chart points, but, like all the people who join in for the second half of all those videos, programmers are beginning to get it on Baauer's viral sensation that leads the list for a third week.
This week, "Shake" increases by 33% to 7.9 million in all-format audience, according to Nielsen BDS. It would need, however, approximately twice as much listenership to reach the 75-position Radio Songs survey.
How long has it been since a Hot 100 No. 1 hadn't appeared on Radio Songs? Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud" was the last such hit," having launched atop the July 1, 2006, chart following his "American Idol" coronation that year. Just like with "Shake" this week, "Proud" that frame ruled the Hot 100 with less than 1% of its chart points owed to radio. (The difference, of course, is that the breakdown of "Shake" is currently 85% streaming/14% sales. "Proud" reigned with a 99% sales domination, 83% of which was due to physical single sales.)
Still, radio is beginning to become a more significant part of the equation for "Shake." The track debuts this week on Pop Songs at No. 38 and Rhythmic at No. 40. That major label Warner Bros. is now promoting the song (after its release in independent label Mad Decent almost a year ago) should also enhance its chances at the medium.
Following the song's viral explosion, including 254 million streams in the U.S. over the three weeks in which "Shake" has topped the Hot 100, programmers are now taking cues from their listeners. "We didn't know what label was responsible and didn't care. We only knew that our audience wanted this," says Alex Tear, Clear Channel Miami VP/programming. "It's a fun visual and a part of pop culture. We want to deliver on audience expectations of our being a part of pop culture fiber. No genius here."
"We try to reflect what's happening and when something like 'Harlem Shake' happens, you can't ignore it," echoes Chris Patyk, program director of CBS Radio pop station KEGY (Energy 103.7) San Diego. Patyk, among other PDs, wonders, however, about the track's long-term viability. "It feels like a novelty song with a short lifespan. Right now is the time to play it. But, the clock is ticking down fast."
Notably, the song's streaming sum plummeted by 45%, although to a still-colossal 53 million streams, over the past week.
R Dub, Local Media of America-owned rhythmic XHTZ (Jammin' Z90.3) San Diego director of programming, likewise questions if interest in "Shake" is destined to dim following its rapid-fire social media rise. But, for now, "It's a no-brainer to play it. Listener reaction has been strong and immediate. As a format and station that lives in the now, we're cool if a song's staying power is two weeks or two years.
"We'll roll with it as long as we need to."