“The Fox” phenomenon

Photo: Ylvis.com

Photo: Ylvis.com

Ylvis brings “The Fox” viral hit song on tour in the U.S.

By Lina Aas-Helseth

Royal Norwegian Consulate, Seattle

If you haven’t already heard, Norwegian song duo and brothers Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker, aka Ylvis, have taken over the pop culture around the world with their quirky yet catchy hit “The Fox.”

Surpassing 100 million viewers on YouTube last Tuesday, “The Fox” has been spreading like wildfire ever since it was released roughly a month ago.

“The Fox” is the most streamed song in the U.S. with over 13 million plays over the course of seven days and is now number six on the Billboard Top 100 Chart in the U.S Billboard.

It’s Ylvis’ second week on the Top 10 Billboard list, and before Ylvis, there is only one other Norwegian band that has gotten on the Top 10, and that was Take On Me by a-ha 28 years ago, which made it all the way to the top.

Ylvis is already popular in Norway, and has been for long time – however, with their hit “The Fox,” they have gotten global attention, but cannot stress enough that the song was all made in wit. The brothers are doing it for the comedy and under no circumstances did they even imagine that “The Fox” would become such a hit.

“It started off as a joke,” Vegard said in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres after performing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show a few weeks ago. “It never meant to turn into such a hit. Stargate, a Norwegian production company based in Oslo, needed a favor and we returned it, resulting in this song.”

“We were supposed to write something else, but it ended up being about a fox. We thought we had messed up completely,” Bård added.

Last week, Ylvis performed live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Today show with Carson Daly, and did the whole shebang – costumes, sounds and quirky dances – in front of millions of viewers.

Many say that that “The Fox” is so bad that it is good, and critics are saying that it has captured the zeitgeist.

Wolfgang Plagge, a music professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, said in an interview with Norwegian newspaper VG (Verdens Gang) that one of the successes to “The Fox” is its use of imagery in the music video. “The choice of imagery combined with the outrageous and gibberish lyrics is what makes this song so successful,” Plagge said in an interview with VG.

“The totality of the imagery and the comedic element of adults walking around in animal costumes for children is just too much. The elephant is precious – the costume barely fits, it’s comedic! It is safe to say that the collected effects of the music video is what makes the song. It’s no wonder it’s popular” Plagge said.

As far as the saying What does the Fox say is concerned, Jørgen Thue, Ylvis manager for the Ylvis brothers’ production company Concorde, said in an interview with VG last week that they have requested to trademark “YLVIS” and “What does the fox say.” “We want to protect our name and exploit it commercially. We want to take control and make sure it does not get out of hand,” Thue said.

According to Thue, the Ylvis brothers have received many inquiries when it comes to the use of the phrase.

Due to this, the paperwork to the rights to the trademark is being processed in order to secure the rights to advertise worldwide, starting with T-shirts and other clothing.

This article originally appeared in the October 25, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.