The Harlem Shake: Ties to New York and Queensland, yet staggeringly popular in Poland

‘Tis the season for those year-end trend reports from organizations with a lot of data, and Facebook went big with their post yesterday. Here’s the official post, which is a little generic: for example, it lists the “top 10 life events” that happened to users in 2013:

1. Added a relationship, got engaged or got married
2. Traveled
3. Moved
4. Ended a relationship
5. First met a friend
6. Added a family member, expecting a baby or had a baby
7. Got a pet
8. Lost a loved one
9. Got a piercing
10. Quit a habit

Those are all fairly standard things to happen in a given year across the world, yes.

You can start diving a little deeper and see that the five most-discussed Facebook topics in the U.S. were the Super Bowl (makes sense, ’tis a cultural event), the government shutdown (fairly significant, although I would love to see the entire gamut of posts on that topic), the Boston Marathon (patriotic and movie-quality dramatic this year with the chase of the brothers around Boston), the Syria crisis (significant), and then … the Harlem Shake. That was ahead of Pope Francis (who was No. 1 globally!), Nelson Mandela, James Gandolfini (don’t mean to necessarily group those three), and others.

Globally, the top topics included Pope Francis, elections (all over), the royal baby (OK), the typhoon, Margaret Thatcher, and … the Harlem Shake.

Let’s re-iterate that. Both U.S. and globally, the only two topics that appeared in the top six trends were … the Pope and the Harlem Shake.

Start breaking it down by country and it’s even more freaky. Check out Poland: their top 10 contains “Harlem Shake” (No. 1), “Twerk” (No. 8), and “What does the fox say?” (No. 10). Poland is like a country of fucked-up memes from the states. Odd. Check out Spain: most of their top five discussions involve soccer. And in Argentina, somehow Justin Bieber is discussed more than Leo Messi (that will probably be different in 2014, a WC year).

Turns out the Harlem Shake was kind of a big thing in Poland, from this:

… to this…

… there’s even a top 10, some of which are amazingly intense:

This appeared on Reddit as “the best Harlem Shake I’ve ever seen,” and honestly, it might be up there:

I can’t specifically explain why the Harlem Shake is so popular in Poland, but a good history of the meme and its complications (including the nude Norwegian version stuff) is here. The sheer data on how much Harlem Shake was produced and consumed — at its peak, 4000 organizations per day were uploading their own Shake to YouTube — is staggering. Look at this:


There’s not a Norway search feature on the Facebook Stories site, but I almost wish there was, because (a) I love Scandinavia and (b) the single Harlem Shake video with the most hits (not a collection) appears to be from there as well:

Ted Bauer