Twenty years after Ghost Town DJs scored a Billboard Hot 100 hit with “My Boo,” the hip-hop group returns to the chart powered by increased streaming and downloads. The source of its comeback stems from a viral meme called the running man challenge, soundtracked by “My Boo.” The meme was initially sparked by videos shot by Kevin Vincent and Jeremiah Hall, two high school students from New Jersey.
“My Boo” re-enters the Hot 100 at No. 29, besting its previous peak of No. 31 — achieved on the Oct. 12, 1996 chart. It concurrently returns to the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 14, topping its original No. 18 peak (Aug. 24, 1996 chart).
The meme, and “My Boo,” was given a boost when University of Maryland basketball players Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley mimicked the original videos and uploaded their edition to Nickens’ social media accounts. Since then, several athletes, including players from the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Dodgers and Denver Broncos, have made their own versions, creating a wave of activity for the ’90s hit.
The song sold 35,000 downloads in the U.S. in the week ending May 5, according to Nielsen Music (up 47 percent compared to the previous week). In turn, it debuts at No. 8 on the R&B Digital Songs chart. Domestic streams for the cut skyrocket to 12.3 million plays during the tracking week — up 147 percent. Of the total streams, 80 percent come from YouTube, while 1.5 million Spotify plays also contribute toward the charts.
Back in 1996, the music video for “My Boo” was a staple on MTV and the track became one of the summer’s top hip-hop hits, reaching No. 2 on the airplay-driven Rhythmic Songs chart – spending 19 weeks in the top 10 from July through November.
In 2013, R&B singer Ciara sampled the song for her single “Body Party,” which reached No. 22 on the Hot 100 (July 27 chart). Other artists, including Mariah Carey and Pitbull, have also incorporated the track in their music. Carey’s 2010 track “H.A.T.E.U. (Remix)” alongside Jermaine Dupri, featuring OJ Da Juiceman, Big Boi and Gucci Mane, reached No. 72 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, while Pitbull’s “Secret Admirer,” feat. Lloyd, was a Rhythmic Songs hit, peaking at No. 28 in 2007.
The creators of the craze, Vincent and Hall, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on May 3 alongside Nickens and Brantley and explained how it all started. Through May 11, the Ellen interview has amassed 5.2 million views worldwide.
While athletes were first to adopt the craze, several user-generated clips posted in the last few weeks have amassed millions more streams, counting towards the song’s advancement on the charts. From police units to international airlines creating their own videos, the challenge has gone global.