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Every few months, a TikTok breaks through the viral ceiling for good but mysterious reasons. This time around, it’s a video of a group of friends dancing simply but with synchronicity to a remix of “Alors on Danse” by Belgian singer and rapper Stromae. (I love this song, BTW.)
The TikTok from @usimmango, a 19-year-old whose real name is Usim E. Mang, now has over 118 million views. It is incroyable, as they say en français. To try to describe it would both minimize the dance’s coolness as well as my own, but I will make an attempt. Usim and five of his friends are goofing around when they begin to rock to the very slowed-down horns of the song. Their subtle swaying is in almost perfect harmony and so soothing to watch.
The simple motion has become so captivating that a group of guys tried to re-create it. (Key word: tried. They were not as successful in capturing the silkiness of the original, sorry.) Singer Jesse McCartney even danced to it as a meme to announce “major news” he was dropping. The TikTok was also so colossally popular that it compelled actor Lindsey Shaw to make a TikTok of her own, mocking the dance’s simplicity. Other TikTokers then called Shaw’s reaction racist because she seemed to be diminishing the success of a group of Black creators “for no reason,” as one user, @auntkaren0, pointed out.
The dance is notably very simple — to the point of befuddlement regarding how viral it’s become. Of course the app’s algorithm quickly signal boosts videos that are already popular to people’s FYPs to throw some gasoline on that fire. But there is something naturally captivating about TikToks like Usim’s.
There are only a few other videos that fall into this mysterious and magical league of Very Uncomplicated But Very Addictive TikToks. There were the moms (at a bar, amid the pandemic) badly lip-synching to Aly & AJ. That one reached 88 million views and was parodied everywhere. And of course there’s the Ocean Spray skateboarding video from @420doggface208 that then inspired me to try to tediously tease out what a “vibe” is. That one reached 81.4 million views.
Usim’s video is overtaking the others that I’m putting in the same category in terms of views. It could be that the app’s popularity continues to grow, so the scale of exceptionally viral content has also shifted upward dramatically. It also could be that his video has accentuated the point that perhaps the simplest, most genuine moments captured on film and shared on the internet can be the most fruitful. Influencers every day are coming up with new ways to stand out, so it’s always poetic to me when TikToks like these rise to the top largely because of their effortlessness. Usim and his friends have a flair that cannot be easily replicated.
And that is an elite TikTok. That is the internetty je ne sais quois factor. And now I will show myself out.
(My colleague Ikran spoke to Usim and will be writing a bit more about him, so please look out for that article!)
Until next time,