It’s the season for year-end best-of lists, and one phenomenon that will likely provoke comment in many reviews of 2015’s music is the recent spate of instructional dance tracks. This year’s poster boy for making songs that encourage people to bust very specific moves is Atlanta’s Silento, who’s repackaged a handful of regional dance styles that have emerged in black communities over the past few years for a candy-coated pop-rap number called “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).” The tune peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and its video is closing in on half a billion YouTube views.
Silento is far from alone when it comes to dancing up the pop charts, though. As the Fader wrote yesterday, regional social-media celeb Richard Colbert, aka iLoveMemphis, harnessed the power of Instagram to turn his track “Hit the Quan” (named after the moves of Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan) into a Hot 100 hit. Hitting the Quan wound up on Rolling Stone‘s list of 2015’s hottest dance crazes, which left off one vital entry: bopping, which took hold of teenagers on Chicago’s west side a couple years ago and maintains a considerable grip.
Bopping hasn’t quite permeated the mainstream—it can’t compete with Silento’s one-two punch of the whip and Nae-Nae, which turned already recognizable dances into an inescapable force. But bopping is in the air nationwide—in fact, Silento tells listeners to bop on “Watch Me,” though that’s not the move that’s lingered in peoples’ minds. When Chance the Rapper appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in October, he brought bop king Dlow with him to help turn the New York City talk-show set into a love fest for all things Chicago, including bopping.
Bop has two parts—it’s a fluid full-body dance and an exuberant pop-rap sound—and they don’t always travel together. Dlow brought bop the dance (rather than bop the sound) to new heights last year when his instructional-dance track “The Dlow Shuffle” went viral, accumulating millions of views and landing him on the Steve Harvey Show with fellow bop king Lil Kemo. Now Dlow has struck gold again, this time with “Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me.”
The video for the track—its viral engine—calls it a “challenge.” Dlow punctuates his instructions by repeating the song’s title, which can just as easily sound like a friendly invitation to give his moves a shot. “Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me” isn’t a bop track, musically—its bell-based instrumental is a tad too sinister. And Dlow doesn’t strictly stick to bopping when he dances—his cornucopia of moves is part of what makes the lo-fi video and its song so endearing. It’s a joy to watch Dlow and his friends transition with ease from one distinct style to the next—the whip, the Nae Nae, the Dlow shuffle, even a bit of “Big Sexy Slide,” demonstrated by Chicago bopper-cum-rapper DJ Maine in the song and video of the same name.
“Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me,” today’s 12 O’Clock Track, has racked up close to 20 million YouTube views since it came out in late September. A few weeks ago it cracked the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s slowly climbing the chart; last week it reached number 59, and this week it’s moved up to number 45, besting Justin Bieber’s “The Feeling.” You can watch the video below.