The song, which was released in December 2019, was first played in South African radio stations and quickly became a local hit. However, it was not until February 2020, when an Angolan dance studio posted a video of their own choreography to the beat of the song, that it became viral. The video set Jerusalema up as a pan-African pop anthem and originated a dance challenge which quickly spread across the continent and worldwide.
Hashtags such as #jerusalemachallenge and #jerusalema were created and people all over the world started posting their own danced versions on social media. More than 420 million performances were uploaded to TikTok which has helped launching the song to fame. The track has had its greatest impact mostly in Europe. Since August 26th, the top three countries with the highest number of radio plays are Italy (16,586), France (15,440) and Germany (2,411). However, it has also had an impact in countries such as Curaçao (235), Israel (50) and Thailand (47). Its popularity is so, that it has even made its way onto the streets of occupied East Jerusalem when the Jerusalem music collective ‘Jaw‘ created their own Palestinian version of the #Jerusalemachallenge. It was filmed with the help of the Jerusalem’s Afro-Palestinian community and uploaded to social media. Within 12 hours the video reached 1,000 views and was circulating all over the world.
About the artists.
The author of the hit Master KG (real name Kgaogelo Moagi) was born in Limpopo, South Africa in 1996. He started doing music at the age of thirteen and in 2016 published his first single “Situation”, an electropop and afropop fusion. The single was so successful that record label Open Mic Productions signed for him. Together they have made several projects including Jerusalema. This song counts with the unmistakable voice of South African songstress Nomcebo Zikode, best known as Nomcebo. She started her career as a choir singer until record label Ganyani Entertainment started working with her. In 2019 she published her first single “Emazulwini”’ which was nominated for Record of the Year in the South African Music Awards.
‘Jerusalema’ made it all the way!
Jerusalema started life as a rhythmic South African gospel track, so catchy that it spread really quickly to every corner around the world. It is impossible to listen to it without moving. The original song video portrays life in South Africa with a unique energy, strength and rhythm which is purely African. It has helped positioning the continent, which is not often associated with terms like “innovation” and “creativity”, as a global trend.
The song has become so popular that many artists have created their own Jerusalema versions. During last month Daudia, an Italian band, uploaded an acoustic duet cover which already has more than a thousand views on Youtube. A remix collaboration with Burna Boy, a Nigerian Afrobeat star, helped the song enter global charts and reached number 1 in 10 countries (including South Africa, France, Romania, Portugal, and Italy). This collaboration has not only brought both singers together but also their home countries after a diplomatic spat back in 2019. Colombian songstress Greeicy and Venezuelan rapper Micro TDH have also given a Latin touch to the track which already has more than 4 million views on Youtube.
In the United States, for example, the song’s Latin version has had more impact than the original one. During the last week , the original version of Jerusalema has only had 32 plays in the country, being the top three cities with the highest number of plays Houston (11), New York (4) and Hammond (2), whereas Greeicy and Micro TDH version currently is one of the top music tendencies in the USA.
But it is not the first time in history that an African song hits so hard internationally.
According to the South African press, Jerusalema is considered to be the most popular song ever written by a South African singer. After all, Master KG and Nomcebo have not only managed to create a hit but a global phenomenon which has brought positivity and happiness amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jerusalema has become a universal anthem of joy.