Its title may not ring a bell, but its melody surely will. South African hit "Jerusalema" was first released last November but gained considerable popularity during the months of lockdown. The single has even recently become the most searched-for song on Shazam worldwide.
When "Jerusalema" came out, it quickly became a favorite among South African radio stations thanks to its swinging beat contrasting with its religious lyrics sung in Zulu.
This song by Master KG and Nomcebo drew the attention of Angolan dance troupe Fenomenos do Semba. They used it to launch a #JerusalemaDanceChallenge last February with a video that quickly went viral on YouTube. Many groups picked up the challenge on YouTube and TikTok, including frontline health workers in a Swedish hospital and even Italian monks and nuns.
While "Jerusalema"'s official video counts close to 149 million views on YouTube, Master KG announced in August that the hit was number one in many iTunes charts, from France to South Africa, as well as Portugal and Romania.
Currently Jerusalema ft nomcebo is No 1 In 10 Countries Including my own Country On itunes ...This is Amazing pic.twitter.com/L02S6IgefD— Master KG Music (@MasterKGsa) August 17, 2020
Even though BTS ousted "Jerusalema" with "Dynamite" in the meantime (as did Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B with "WAP"), Shazam recently revealed that "Jerusalema" was the most searched-for song worldwide on its app, which can automatically identify the songs being played around you.
South African national treasure
The gospel-inspired hit was so successful in its home country that the South African president himself, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently encouraged his fellow citizens to take part in #JerusalemaDanceChallenge ahead of the country's national Heritage Day on September 24.
Cyril Ramaphosa explained in an official covid-19 update how much he loves this track and that dancing to it celebrates the South African identity.
A film about Master KG hit was even shot in Cape Town on September 17, in the lead up to the Heritage Day celebrations, according to Variety.
Making peace through music
This track is also helping ease tensions between Nigerian musician Burna Boy and South Africa. The Nigerian star referenced the South African government on Twitter regarding xenophobic attacks in the country last year. He had even pledged to never set foot in South Africa again.
Following his collaboration with Master KG in June on a "Jerusalema" remix, Burna Boy declared that he hoped that this track would unite African peoples. "My hope is that it unites us through our divisions and misunderstandings and dance together. We are not in competition, we are one Africa, we are united," said the singer to South African daily The Sowetan.