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27 December, 2010

The Best Viral Meme of 2010

Trololo Guy - Also known as the "Russian Rickroll," the original title of this song was supposed to be "I Am Glad, Beause I'm Finally Returning Back Home." However, all the lyrics ended up being censored by the Cold War-era Soviet government.

The artist, Edward Hill, was a popular Russian baritone singer, and when the government's censorship decision came in right before a performance of the song, Hill improvised and sang his hit song with non-decipherable syllables instead of the original words.

The result? A stiff-looking man singing "lol" at his audience in bizarre sweeping dance moves. The video took off, starting in February 2010, and for many it became the new "bait-and-switch" Rick Roll video, as well as a new mechanism for trolling websites. Hill himself has commented, saying the attention to the video is "funny."

The story behind the song:

Singing in the video is Edward Anatolevich Hill, a Soviet-era vocalist once celebrated as the “Honored Artist of the USSR” in 1968 and “People’s Artist of the USSR” in 1974.

Because Edward’s performance was poorly lipsynched (albeit to his own vocal track) and entirely composed of mouth music without any lyrics, the song was perceived by some westerners as highly eccentric. One of the surreal moments comes in at the chorus part, during which Edward can be heard singing “LOL” over and over again—as though he’s laughing directly at the viewer.

Of course, this is just a comical misinterpretation of him singing “Tro-lo-lo.” In fact, the song still remains quite familiar to the older Russian audiences; the Sovie Azerbaijani singer Muslim Magomaev had previously sung it in the 1960s Soviet television show The Blue Spark.

It’s sung in a style called “vokaliz,” a cognate of the English “vocalise” or vocal exercise. Vokaliz is not, however, a vocal exercise but a style of singing similar to pantomime or even American scat singing of the 1920s.

And here's the Christmas version:

Tribute Performances
In December 2010, the Gifford Children’s Choir from Racine, Wisconsin performed Edward Hill’s ‘Trololo’ song at their holiday concert. The audience seems to know all the words!

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