There’s no handbook for what to do after accidentally inciting a global Internet phenomenon that burns out almost as quickly as it arrives. In the case of Baauer, however, the plan apparently was to wait for the whole “Harlem Shake” thing to blow over and then release an epic music video that couldn’t be further from fad-dancing.
“Higher” is the result of a studio summit between “Shake”-maker Baauer and frequent Jay Z producer Just Blaze. Together, the two weave a bombastic tapestry of synth blasts into a song featuring a vocal sample from Jay Z himself. While the music certainly sounds danceable enough, the video eschews traditional choreography altogether for a narrative set in a remote jungle village.
Created by rising star director Nabil Elderkin, the video starts before the music does, with a young boy overhearing a woman in distress. By the time the kid reaches a window, however, there remains only a drunken villager lingering in the alley. After following this man home, the boy discovers that he is some sort of master swordsman. Thus begins a tale of vengeance.
The moment a sword is first visible, it seems inevitable that this video will contain a serious clash at some point in time. Sure enough, there are training sequences and actual fighting, and it’s in these scenes of quick cuts and clanging stores that the escalating insistence of the beat matches the imagery onscreen. Alas, if you were hoping that at some point the entire village would band together for a “Harlem Shake” video, you will be disappointed, and rightly so.
Watch a recent Arctic Monkeys video, directed by Nabil, below.