NORWAY: More than just fjords and Black Metal

Welcome to the first ever post on my blog.
I assure you that things will get funnier from here on out.

For this week’s post, I willI will be looking at a Norwegian comedy duo who have recently blown up on this side of the Atlantic due to a YouTube video posted on Sept. 3, that has recieved over 21 MILLION views in the past ten days.

The group is Ylvis (pronounced “ill-vis”), and the song is called “The Fox”:

Okay, I hope you’re still with me. If that’s the first time you’ve seen the video or heard the song, I’m sure you’re thinking a few things right now…

“What the… What the hell was that?”

To answer your question, that was the latest creation from the minds of Bård Urheim Ylvisåker and Vegard Urheim Ylvisåker. The two brothers have been performing as Ylvis around Norway since 2000. They steadily built up a reputation for themselves over the past decade, which eventually led to their own own talk/variety show. YLVIS, currently in its third season, airing twice a week in Norway. With a background in music comedy, videos for songs like “The Fox” are regularly premiered on their show.

The popularity in their latest music video has come as a shock to the brothers. Bård Ylvisåker is quoted on the front page of the show’s website talking about the origin of “The Fox”:

“This song is made for a TV show and is supposed to entertain a few Norwegians for three minutes — and that’s all. It was done just a few days ago and we recently had a screening in our office. About 10 people watched — nobody laughed.”

I’ll be honest—if I was one of those 10 people in that office watching it for the first time, I certainly would have laughed. My first exposure to Ylvis was through “The Fox”, and it became apparent that this was a brilliant work of satire unlike other viral hits that have just been terrible songs. Plus, the guys and their team clearly have a good sense of comedic timing and a keen eye/ear for production values. They put in the work to make a solid final product, and you have to appreciate their creativity even if you don’t necessarily find the song entertaining.

But “The Fox” is actually just the tip of the fjord. Ylvis has a couple other english music videos that are possibly better than The Fox, in terms of accessibility and catchiness.

First, there was “Someone Like Me”, posted on the tvnorge YouTube channel on Sept. 12, 2012, which mashs up a pleasant love song with beat-boxed dubstep bass-drops. If you’re familiar with the tropes of dubstep, then you should enjoy what they do here:

From there came my personal favourite, “Jan Egeland”, an epic rock ballad tribute to Jan Egeland. Egeland is a Norwegian politician who has held such titles as Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, and Deputy Secretary General to the UN.

In an interview with Marco Werman of PRI’s The World, the brothers explain the reasoning behind the tribute:

“I guess we felt that he’s like a big hero but he could walk the streets of Norway without being recognized, I guess, at least by the people in our age. So we felt that it would be cool to give him the attention he deserves. We just wanted to honour him. We haven’t heard his reaction yet, so we’re excited to hear what he thinks. I think he’s more busy saving the world still, he’s around providing some contracts about not using land mines in war and doing some peace talks.”

One of the best things about the video is that the music itself is amazing. Then there are the lyrics, which are ridiculous. The live portions of the video are genuine, recorded from a stadium show in Norway:

Then there’s their newest music video, uploaded Sept. 6, 2013, titled “Stonehenge”. Just like “The Fox”, it’s best to first experience the video with no context or advanced info:

So what does the future hold for Ylvis? Well, time will tell whether or not “The Fox” will reach “Gangdam Style” levels of popularity leading to radio play—weirder things have happened.

The world should now be fully aware of these Norwegian comedians, and I personally can’t wait to see what material they come up with next.


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