How Did Jerusalema Song Become Famous?
The 24-year-old Limpopo native Master KG and the vocals of singer Nomcembo Zikode could hardly imagine that they were creating would become an anthem of South Africa’s summer. They could not have accurately foreseen that the song would rank among the Global Top 200. But that was the reality of Jerusalema, a modest South African gospel dance song that made the Shazam Number 1 spot having been Shazamed more than 4.5 million times within weeks. So how did Jerusalema song become famous?
Kgaogelo Moagi, with the stage name Master KG, knows that he should ever be grateful that superstars such as C-Ronaldo and Janet Jackson celebrated his song on social media by posting videos and captions about it. You too have likely have joined in singing and dancing to that song without even knowing the title and the meaning of the lyrics.
The meaning of the song may be another reason why Jerusalema became famous. It’s a song of Christian prayer saying Jerusalema, ikhaya lami in Zulu which means “Jerusalem is my home”. “Oh, Jerusalema, you’re my home. This is not my home.” How timely are those words! Many non-Zulu speaking even in South Africa don’t know what’s being said. However, during the pandemic and quarantine, the song implying ‘Take me to a better place’ could not be received less.
When it was released in November 2019, the lockdown was not envisaged. But during the months the lockdown lasted, Jerusalema gained considerable popularity. The lockdown and reduction in video production and musical works may have cleared the air for the song to operate. As the global pandemic forces people to live their lives on through the Internet, a gospel song full of hope was presented. This may explain how the song became popular.
Another ladder to fame that Jerusalema climbed to fame was the attraction of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa himself. He encouraged South Africans to take part in #JerusalemaDanceChallenge which was ahead of the national Heritage Day of South Africa on September 24. It was picked up by the Angolan dance troupe Fenomenos do Semba, so also many groups on TikTok including some frontline health workers in Sweden and even Italian monks and nuns.
He spoke elatedly about the song and his lyrics and claimed that anyone dancing to it is celebrating the South African identity.
How the music made peace and contributed to easing tensions between the Grammy-award-winning Nigerian music star Burna boy and South Africa is another reason why Jerusalema became popular. Burna Boy had earlier Tweeted about the South African government and xenophobic attack in the country in recent years, pledging never to set his foot on South African soil again.
But in the remix of Jerusalema the following June KG and Burna Boy collaborated and the success made the Nigerian music star to declare his optimism about the track uniting African peoples and make them one that they really are. He also expresses hope that they would sing and dance together, having their misunderstanding cleared.
Now, what do you expect of a song with the official video generating 150 million views on YouTube and making Number 1 slot in a lot of iTune charts from France, Portugal, and Romania, not to talk of its origin? TikTok is buzzing with it.
Try and listen to Jerusalema and tell us what you think made the song famous.
Flight crew choreography, on the tarmac at Riga airport/
Youtube Riga Airport.