Tourism: Jerusalema: How a simple South African gospel dance song became a global phenomenon

Jerusalema

Since its release late last year, Jerusalema has become a global phenomenon.

And between Master KG’s capering beat and Nomcebo’s dreamy vocals, it is easy to see how the song became a viral hit, inspiring its own dance challenge and raking in more than 100 million views on its official YouTube page.

A few days after Master KG celebrated reaching 100 million views on YouTube with the hit song Jerusalema, he celebrated it with the purchase of a brand new blue BMW 3 Series. Earlier this month, Jerusalema became the most Shazamed song in the world.

According to qz.com, Fenomenos do Semba, an Angolan dance studio, posted a video of members line dancing to the track while carrying their plates of food and eating.

The video gave the song a whole new lease of life as a pan-African African pop anthem. The Angolan clip kicked off the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge across the continent and soon beyond from nuns and monks in France, to a bridal party in Zimbabwe, and a flash mob in Germany, spurring countless tutorials on YouTube and TikTok.

With its haunting chorus line referencing the holy city, the song does have religious lyrics in Zulu, but its upbeat tempo means its greatest reach has been outside the walls of any church or synagogue.

While there have been many variations of the song, such as an acoustic duet by an Italian band, an African remix collaboration with award-winning Nigerian Afrobeats star, Burna Boy in June catapulted “Jerusalema” even higher. Leveraging Burna Boy’s fast-growing international acclaim as he promoted his Twice as Tall album, the collaboration helped enter the song into global charts and reach number 1 in 10 countries.

On Spotify, “Jerusalema” has been streamed more than 66 million times, while on YouTube it has topped 140 million views. That doesn’t include the scores of #JerusalemaDanceChallenge YouTube clips. It also reached No. 11 on iTunes worldwide charts.

Master KG (born Kgaogelo Moagi) has described working with Burna Boy as a dream come true. “He brings the Nigerian flavor, gimmicks, pidgin English, and a different approach to music,” the 24-year old producer told the Sowetan newspaper.

“He has the Nigerian groove that we mix with South African style while we keep the originality of the song intact.”

The remix by Master KG and Burna Boy has been hailed as a conciliatory move after a serious diplomatic spat in 2019, in which the Nigerian star spoke out against September’s xenophobic attacks on other Africans in South Africa, which were rumored to be targeting Nigerians.

He said at the time he would not set foot in the county until the government “wakes up”. Many South Africans on social media demanded an apology for what they saw as incendiary tweets.

Even after Burna Boy accepted an invitation to perform at the Africa United Concert, widespread dissent about his inclusion led to his removal from the lineup of the Johannesburg leg of the Afropunk concert.

It could be recalled that Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo took to Instagram to spread the message of love using the hit song. The Juventus star shared the whole song on his Instagram account, beamed to over 237 million of his followers.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also the most followed person on the social network site. Only Instagram’s own Instagram account has more followers than the Portuguese captain. “Life is better with your loved ones. Enjoy all the moments with love and happiness,” he wrote, tagging his lover, Georgina Rodriguez, which sees the CR7 star hosting an intimate lunch with family and friends, with the song playing in the background.

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