Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Straight Skinny on the 'Trololo Guy'

When this video went viral recently, rumor had it that the singer was a participant in the Russian version of 'American Idol' or 'Britain's Got Talent.'

That story was helped by the Russian caption--Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой, meaning, I am very glad, indeed I finally return home. The implication was that even in what the West perceives as coolness-challenged Russia--remember this Soviet-era American TV ad for Wendy's?--this singer was insufferably campy.

I was immediately suspicious of the talent show story. The singer's hair was too late-70s, early-80s, for one thing.

It turns out that the story behind the video is more complicated than that. And more interesting.

The singer is Edward Kihl, already a popular singer in Soviet Russia in 1976, when this performance was taped. The song was originally written in 1966, with lyrics about a cowboy in the United States. Because that was "the height of the Cold War, [Kihl] and his composer knew the highly restrictive government would never allow them to sing it. Instead, they decided to ditch words, and have Khil simply sing the melody."

Yes, it sounds incredibly dorky and would have in 1976. But you have to hand it to two guys bent on plying their trades in spite of the oppressive regime under which they lived.

The truth is almost always more interesting than fiction.

Read the whole story here.

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