What “What Does The Fox Say” Really Say About Our Music Culture
When it comes down to this electro-pop tune by The Ylvis Brothers, there are three kinds of people:
1. Those who hate it and think that the world has really gone bonkers.
2. Those who find it funny and catchy and will sing along to it anytime.
3. And those who totally get it and think it’s extremely hilarious.
And if you’re trying to guess…yes I’m in the third category.
I listen to a lot of music and I like songs from the whole spectrum of musical genres. I like anything from hardcore to country, pop, indie, folk, instrumental, classical, ska, electronic, minimal, reggae, punk…etc. Heck, I’m even a Susan Boyle fan!
What I am trying to get to is that I’ve learned to cultivate an open mind to a big variety of music and therefore I’ve learned so much and noticed patterns, tendencies, but mainly how to appreciate artistry.
Without the obviously childish, simple lyrics, “What Does The Fox Say?” sounds like something you’d expect from David Guetta or someone of the like. You might even find yourself dancing to it if you’re not really paying attention to the lyrics, but you hear the guys go “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!” and you’re instantly reminded of how silly it all is.
But isn’t this phenomenon really familiar to all of us? You know…listening to a song and humming along, tapping to the beat, wildly dancing…but you don’t really listen to the lyrics and probably you don’t even care. (Does “Call Me Maybe” ring a bell?)
All Ylvis did was make it really obvious and hard to miss. They just wanted to make a funny song for their TV show, because in case you didn’t know, they are comedians back in Norway. You can check out the background story here.
To me it seems like they accidentally made a satire of how artists have been getting away with really crappy lyrics for decades which are compensated with good music (sometimes) a good voice and loads of marketing. You know it’s true! Examples, anyone?
1. Let’s begin with one that really bothers me. “Every breath you take” by The Police. It won Song of the year in the1984 Grammy awards, but hey, did anyone not notice how sinister the lyrics are?
“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.”
That doesn’t say romantic to me…that says go get a damn restraining order. Even Sting was disconcerted by how people have misinterpreted it!
2. I’m guilty of singing this at the top if my lungs. What’s zigazig?? And why does she want it so bad?
“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want/So tell me what you want, what you really, really want/I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want/So tell me what you want, what you really, really want/I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)/I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.” — Spice Girls, Wannabe
3. All of the countless futile times you tried to sing along to these lyrics by Hanson:
“MMMBop, ba duba dop ba do bop,
Ba duba dop ba do bop,
Ba duba dop ba do. Oh yeah,
MMMBop ba duba dop ba do bop,
Ba duba dop ba do bop,
Ba duba dop ba do”
You know you loved every minute of it.
4. Who doesn’t love The Beatles? I love them so much, but I can’t help but wonder why are you the Eggman Lennon?
“Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman (woo), they are the eggmen (woo), I am the walrus,
Coo coo, kachoo.”
You know what…next time you sit on a cornflake, give me a call!
There’s a plethora of more examples I could give to you, and people seem to go along with them just fine because the artists are beautiful and there’s a really good beat to it and you get carried away by the music not realizing that you’re singing “to the window, to the wall, to the sweat drop down my balls”, out loud in front of your grandma or boss.
The Ylvis brothers had really great producers for their song, they have decent voices and a catchy electro-pop sound, along with “fish goes blub and the seal goes ow ow ow”. I think they took the last laugh on the whole matter. They got away with crazy nonsense lyrics IN SUCH AN OBVIOUS WAY and onto the path of unintentional international stardom. We allowed that to happen.
So before you go dismissing this song or any song for that matter, as awful and stupid, think about all the other questionable song choices you’ve made before. Like this one for example …
Want more crazy nonsense lyrics? Check out this compilation by vh1