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Saturday, July 5, 2014

What Is It?: Happy/The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

Hey, dudes, it's time for What Is It?, the Giant Electric Penguin feature in which I catch up with something (phenomenon, musical artist, TV show, video game-inspired breakfast cereal, etc) that everybody else on the planet is pretty much sick of, but that I missed for some reason.

First up, Pharrell Williams' impossible-to-avoid-yet-somehow-I've-successfully-done-just-that song "Happy." 

Chances are, you didn't need to click the above "play triangle" and listen to "Happy," because you've already been subjected to it 50-million times since its release last November.  I will further assume--and not for any reason other than it seems to be the normal, observable reaction to "Happy" and songs of its unmistakable ilk--that you love it.  And if you love it, that's awesome!  I hope whenever "Happy" plays on your radio or pops up on whatever music-stealing app you've downloaded onto your smartphone, you don your own weird Arby's/Jellystone forest ranger's hat and dance down the block to the delight of your neighbors.  I hope "Happy" takes you back to that afternoon you took your kids to see Despicable Me 2 and nobody dropped their popcorn on the floor or pooped their pants.  I hope "Happy" makes you think of those Twinkie-shaped Minion creatures and you smile.  I want all of these things for you.  I hate this song.

I don't hate "Happy" because everybody else likes it, and whatever the general public embraces I immediately deem as stupid and write it off as a useless pile of sweaty garbage.  I don't hate "Happy" because I, in fact, abhor happiness and wish only sadness and pain upon this world and every dumb idiot that inhabits it.  I hate "Happy" because it's a terrible song.  Just an awful, repetitive, awful, awful thing.

So, why does everybody like this song so much?  I'm not that out of touch with the general populace, am I?  I watch just as many cooking competition shows and trashy reality programs, listen to as much crummy Top 40 and inhale as many McDonald's French fries as everybody else, so why doesn't "Happy" ping any of my "happiness zones?"

Maybe it's all the hand clapping.  "Happy" is more an ode to clapping than to its titular emotion.  A lot of it has to do with lines like "clap along if you feel like a room without a roof."  Or all the other lines that don't mean anything, but because they include the word "happy," we're supposed to assume are boiling over with positivity and self-helpy reminders that "happiness is the truth," whatever the hell that means.

I think the reason America loves this song so much is the video.  Americans love to see people who look like themselves dancing and lip synching in music videos.  It's a scientific fact.  The "Happy" video is crammed full of "real world" weirdos shimmying and pop-locking and two-stepping all over the place, and Pharrell knows--because he's privy to scientific facts and such--that this is exactly what people want to see when they listen to their favorite Oscar-nominated song.  That's right, "Happy" was nominated for an Oscar, and if Frozen didn't exist (perish the thought!!!), it probably would've won.

Anyway, now that I've turned 98% of my Facebook friends against me, let's take a look at this "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" thing.

When I first starting hearing about "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" on Facebook, I thought everybody liked/like-hated it because it was some goofy thing from Europe and they don't do things the right way (i.e. the American way) in Europe, so let's laugh at them.  Turns out it isn't.  Turns out "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" is an intentionally silly song with an intentionally silly video created by a legitimately funny Norwegian comedy duo named Ylvis.

I really like "The Fox."  It's a pretty brilliant parody of electro-pop earnestness and weird, cheesy pop song earnestness in general.  The subject matter is ridiculous--but also super thought-provoking, because, seriously, what kind noise does a fox make?--and is presented so seriously, well, I mean, that's just comedy gold right there.

I do admit that the initial shock of how truly funny "The Fox" is does wear off.  I watched the video three times over the course of writing this piece, and the third time I found myself laughing less.  It was still funny, but I kind of got it now.  However, the grandfather shouting Ylvis' proposed fox noises into his grandson's ears in the middle of the forest, makes me laugh--and laugh so hard--every time I see it.

In summation: "Happy" makes me unhappy and "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" makes me happy.  Simple.  Done.

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