“Harlem Shake” is a song recorded by American DJ and producer Baauer. It was released as his debut single on May 22, 2012, by Mad Decent imprint label Jeffree’s. The uptempo song incorporates a mechanical bassline, Dutch house synth riffs, a dance music drop, and samples of growling-lion sounds. It also samples Plastic Little’s 2001 song “Miller Time”, specifically the vocal “then do the Harlem shake”, which is an allusion to the dance of the same name. Baauer added a variety of peculiar sounds to the song so that it would stand out.
The single did not begin to sell significantly until February 2013, when a YouTube video set to its music developed into an Internet meme of the same name. The media response to the meme helped increase the single’s sales, as it charted at number one for five consecutive weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also reached number three in the United Kingdom and number one in both Australia and New Zealand. During the song’s chart run, Billboard enacted a policy that included video streams as a component of their charts.
“Harlem Shake” was well received by music critics, who viewed it as an appealing dance track, although some felt that it was more of a novelty song. After the song became a hit, Mad Decent label head Diplo reached an agreement with the artists of the song’s samples, which had not been contractually cleared before its release. However, according to Baauer, he has not received any of the money the song made because of the legal issues from not having properly cleared the samples. American rapper Azealia Banks released a remix to “Harlem Shake” on her SoundCloud page, which was subsequently removed at Baauer’s request and led to a dispute between the two.