Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” soars onto the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 this week, as the addition of YouTube streaming data to the chart aids its ascent.
“It’s literally unbelievable,” he says of the achievement. “It’s amazing to have this track recognized by the world.”
It’s not the first time that Harlem, however, has accompanied a Billboard chart evolution. The New York neighborhood headlined a similar key point in chart history more than 70 years ago.
In the issue dated Oct. 24, 1942, Billboard premiered its first R&B chart. Its name? The “Harlem Hit Parade,” which was defined as a ranking of the “most popular records in Harlem, based on sales reports from Rainbow Music Shop, Harvard Radio Shop, Lehman Music Company, Harlem De Luxe Music Store, Ray’s Music Shop and Frank’s Melody Music Shop, New York.” Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy topped the inaugural tally with “Take It and Git.”
Seven decades later, Harlem is again at the hub of music.
As previously reported, producer Baauer (aka, Harry Baauer Rodrigues … of Brooklyn, not Harlem) blasts onto the Hot 100 at the summit, powered by 103 million YouTube streams, as well as 262,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan (good for a No. 3 entrance on the Digital Songs chart). With the track’s original audio appearing in so many memes – a single person dances to “Harlem Shake” for 15 seconds before others join in for another 15 seconds – the song brings to the forefront just how much video virality can now help make a song a pop culture smash.
And, it reinforces Harlem’s musical staying power. “Harlem Shake” samples Plastic Little’s 2001 track “Miller Time,” including the vocal that suggests listeners “do the Harlem shake,” a dance that originated in the northern Manhattan section in 1981.
“Shake” is merely the latest example of a hit celebrating Harlem. It’s also the first title to name-check Harlem to crown the Hot 100 and the fifth to reach the chart’s top 20. Aretha Franklin sent “Spanish Harlem” to No. 2 in 1971, after Ben E. King’s original version had climbed to No. 10 in 1961. The Rolling Stones ‘ cover of Bob & Earl’s 1963 song “Harlem Shuffle” rose to No. 5 in 1986. (The latter song’s opening horn riff reappeared as a sample in House of Pain’s No. 3 Hot 100 hit “Jump Around” in 1992.) And, in 1989, U2’s “Angel of Harlem” ascended to No. 14.
Ultimately, it’s not that surprising that Harlem has found itself central to numerous hits, considering the neighborhood’s bounty of cultural, specifically musical, history. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ’30s gave birth to the Apollo Theater, while several jazz venues played host to many of the genre’s top acts. The Harlem Boys Choir was founded in 1965. And, some of hip-hop’s earliest roots took hold in Harlem, courtesy of residents Kurtis Blow, Mase and Diddy.
In addition to Baauer’s chart-topping title, Harlem is represented by another act high atop the Hot 100 this week. Harlem native A$AP Rocky ranks at No. 15 with his former No. 8 hit “F**kin Problems,” featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar.
Clearly, the Harlem hit parade marches on.
STILL ‘SOMEBODY’: Following Gotye’s win for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, the former eight-week Hot 100 No. 1 “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra, rebounds 42-36 in its 59th week on the chart.
With its latest frame, “Somebody” now ranks among the 10 longest-charting hits in the Hot 100’s 54-year history.
Here’s an updated look at the songs to spend the most weeks on the Hot 100:
Weeks, Title, Artist, Peak Year, Peak Position
76, “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz, 2008, No. 6
69, “How Do I Live,” LeAnn Rimes, 1997, No. 2
68, “Party Rock Anthem,” LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock, 2011, No. 1 (six weeks)
65, “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele, 2011, No. 1 (seven weeks)
65, “You Were Meant For Me”/”Foolish Games,” Jewel, 1997, No. 2
64, “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood, 2007, No. 8
62, “You and Me,” Lifehouse, 2005, No. 5
60, “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum, 2010, No. 2
60, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix),” Los Del Rio, 1996, No. 1 (14 weeks)
59, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye featuring Kimbra, 2012, No. 1 (eight weeks)
Having earned the honor of Billboard’s top Hot 100 song of 2012, “Somebody” is the second-longest-charting top title of a year, trailing only Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” the No. 1 song of 2011.
SONG OF THE YEAR: Jason Aldean enters Country Airplay at No. 60 with “1994,” a track from his first Billboard 200 No. 1 album, “Night Train.”
The song fetes an artist who dominated Billboard’s country charts that year: Joe Diffie, whose name figures prominently into the cut’s chorus. “I was a junior in high school in ’94 and Joe Diffie was huge,” Aldean told Billboard’s Ray Waddell last year. “I went to the Cherry Blossom Street Party in Macon [Ga.], with Kenny Chesney on one stage and Joe Diffie on the other stage.
“There were 5,000 people watching Joe Diffie and about 500 watching Kenny Chesney.”
Aldean added that “some younger fans may have to do some research [to] figure out who Joe Diffie is.” Chart Beat will do the work for them: he scored a hefty 17 top 10s on Hot Country Songs in 1990-2000, including five No. 1s. Fittingly, 1994 was the only year in which he reigned twice, with “Third Rock From the Sun” and “Pickup Man.”
Upon the release of “Night train,” Billboard sent “1994” to Diffie to gauge his reaction. “First of all, wow!” he beamed. “He dang sure delivered on ‘1994,’ big time. What an honor it is to have a song reference songs of mine.
“To think that all of Jason’s fans will be chanting my name … pretty dang cool.”
In other country music highlights of 1994, Tim McGraw scored his first Hot Country Songs top 10 (“Indian Outlaw”) and No. 1 (“Don’t Take the Girl”), his wife Faith Hill reached No. 1 (on the Jan. 1, 1994, chart) with her debut single “Wild One” and John Michael Montgomery ruled for four weeks with “I Swear.” Montgomery’s success with the song spurred his label, Atlantic, to release a pop version by vocal group All-4-One; the latter take subsequently topped the Hot 100 for 11 weeks.
An artist who might not personally remember 1994? The one currently atop Hot Country Songs with “Wanted,” Hunter Hayes.
That year, he celebrated his third birthday.