The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum

The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum
Please be advised that for your safety you must exit this blog on foot, calmly and quickly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who's up for some world music?

In my previous entry, I mentioned the breakup of A-ha.  The music video for their greatest hit, "Take on Me" is iconic.  If I asked you to think of a random 1980s video, chances are that one would pop into your mind.  But most music videos from foreign pop acts don't translate so well here in the U.S.  I'd like to share some of my favorites.

The first is a somewhat unlikely classic from Daler Mehndi, an enormously popular singer from India.  Mehndi, who is known as much for his philanthropy as his music, styles himself the "King of Pop."  I suppose that is not an entirely outlandish claim, given his worldwide popularity and the deposition of the previous monarch of pop due to an untimely death.  Mehndi's video for Tunak Tunak Tun was a huge internet meme around the year 2000.  I still can't watch it without smiling.  Despite my inability to understand a single word of his music, it's inexplicably infectious.  And he really conveys the joy he has for performing in his videos.

The second video I'd like to commend to your attention is a Japanese offering, "Yatta!"  The Japanese were once perhaps the most militaristic society in history, and were responsible for the creation of the samurai, an incomparably fierce class of warriors.  But you wouldn't know it after watching Yatta.  The video features some of the most famous comedians in all of Japan.  It was produced by a sketch comedy show to parody the boy band craze of the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as Japanese pop culture.  The track was a surprise hit, and went multi-platinum.  The distinguishing characteristic of the video is a large group of men attired only in underpants with green leaves pasted over the front doing synchronized choreography.  But you really need to watch it to get the full effect.

If that's not enough Yatta for you, a version with english subtitles can be found here.  Or if you prefer live music, here's a performance that aired on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and was followed by an interview in which the group members presented Jimmy with a leaf of his own.

Here's one I somehow found out about only last week.  But first, let me remind the reader that the Germans were once perhaps the most militaristic society in history. Back in the late 1970s, a West German novelty act called Dschinghis Khan (that's Genghis Khan for those of us who don't speak German) was created for the Eurovision song contest.  For those of you who don't know what Eurovision is, just sit in any cafe in Astoria, Queens where obnoxiously loud techno is playing on a Sunday morning and you're bound to hear someone prattle on about it.  In advance of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, Khan released a disco song called, appropriately enough, "Moskau."

The original video can be viewed here, but I have embedded a much more fun version below.  A guy on YouTube who calls himself buffalax creates what he calls "buffalxed" music videos.  These are foreign language music videos which he subtitles in "english."  Mind you, these are not translations of the lyrics into english.  Rather, he subtitles the videos based on what it sounds like the singers are saying.  At 31 seconds in, there is a chilling warning for yours truly.  And at 44 seconds in, Khan appeals to your prurient side.

For good measure, here is one more of buffalax's efforts, "Benny Lava."  I defy you not to laugh.

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