Neither the album nor its corresponding videos are on YouTube, and you can’t find it on streaming sites, only iTunes. Instead, the song’s seeing a rise up the charts thanks to choreographers who are uploading their routines to YouTube and audiences clicking on and sharing those videos.
Choreographer Yanis Marshall released this clip in late December—donning stiletto boots to perform the routine, no less—and since then, other dancers and choreographers have followed suit.
“Partition” is the perfect song for a choreographer, so it makes sense so many would be showcasing their routines. But this trend is also a reminder of YouTube’s role in audience participation, beyond cover songs. Dion Singer, executive vice president of marketing and creative at Warner Bros. Records, told Billboard that “A true hit song is one where the audience goes from passive to active.” One of his clients, Jason Derulo, has seen success with the many choreographed routines that have come from his song “Talk Dirty.”
This is also a reminder of YouTube’s role in influencing the charts, both via new and old songs. Last year, after Marina Shifrin’s “I Quit” video went viral, the Kanye West song featured in it showed up on the Billboard charts eight years after its release. (West also appears in the new “Drunk in Love” remix.) The streaming numbers for “Partition” additionally got a boost from “Yoncé,” the other half of the track.
The “Partition” phenomenon was compared to last year’s “Harlem Shake” fan-made video sensation, and in terms of chart placement via YouTube clicks, it makes sense. But this interpretation of the song doesn’t feel like parody. It’s a subculture putting its own spin on the song and creating a new type of synergy: Beyoncé shared Marshall’s video on her Facebook page shortly after it was released.
Screengrab via Yanis Marshall/YouTube