The Washington Post

‘Harlem Shake’ hits No. 1 as Billboard adds YouTube views to chart formula

Scoring “a No. 1 single” has a much nicer ring to it than scoring “the latest viral video,” doesn’t it?

Billboard, the trade magazine whose charts have defined the popularity of popular music for nearly 120 years, has announced that YouTube views will now be considered when tracking the songs on its Hot 100 singles chart. And that means Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” a squiggly tune that’s provided the soundtrack for countless viral dance videos, has gone to No. 1.

In a press release, Billboard explains that it is “now incorporating all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen’s streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100 and the Hot 100 formula-based genre charts.”

To which we say: Right on.

In a 2011 Washington Post story about the morphing metrics of our 21st century pop charts, Bill Werde, editorial director at Billboard Magazine, said, “If you look at what we’ve charted and how we’ve charted over the past 50 years, it’s a study in the changes that have gone on in the music business.”

Today’s announcement from Billboard appears to be the next big step.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about David Bowie's legacy of reinvention, Beyoncé's Super Bowl victory, viral go-go covers and rock star death waves.

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