I continue to find fault with the “Harlem Shake” dance craze, this time by pointing out that the vocals in it are “borrowed”.
We’ve entered a weird age of media, where hit singles are now dictated by You Tube hits. This means that some dance singles, which are cobbled together by basement DJs, may be using vocal samples that haven’t been cleared to use. Case in point: “The Harlem Shake”.
The single by Baauer, stunned the world, and Baauer himself, by attaching itself to an internet dance craze and attracting close to a million digital downloads and tens of millions of You Tube hits. However, the two vocalists heard on the single, had to be asked by friends according to The New York Times, “isn’t that you?” when they heard it for the first time.
That’s because Baauer (real name Harry Rodrigues) used samples from two songs to piece together the dance hit, and he never notified them to ask permission to use the vocals. Why would he? He’s been cobbling dance tracks together on his home computer for years, never thinking they would be heard beyond his circle of friends and dance music geeks.
But then came “The Harlem Shake”, which went beyond the underground dance music scene into the national spotlight, thanks to videos made by young people doing a convulsive dance while playing the track. Those videos shot the songs popularity to number one on the Billboard charts, which now counts You Tube play into its hit ranking system.
Rodrigues’ record, which was a free download on the Mad Decent label for months, now has turned a profit, and the two vocalists heard on the record, would like to be compensated.
Hector Delgado, who is now a minister in Puerto Rico, can clearly be heard singing the line, “con los terroristas”, which was pulled from his song, “Maldades”, which he recorded in 2006. Jay Musson, meanwhile, delivers the line “Do the Harlem Shake”, which was lifted from his 2001 single “Miller Time”, which was a mild dance hit in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Both men say they are in negotiations with Mad Decent Records to be compensated for their samples.
This story demonstrates the Wild West feel of the internet, where individuals create music and art pieced together by what they find using their search engines. The intent isn’t malicious, in fact, it usually means they like the music they’re sampling, but the legal system may not see it that way.
Here some kids give their opinion on the dance craze…