So, about that Russian la-la-la-la-la-ling animatron you’ve been seeing everywhere: It’s actually quite a normal music video in proper Soviet context and Christoph Waltz has done a lovely version to send the meme off to rest. Please, get out of my head now.
But first, a little context:
This haunting video appeared a little while ago and has since became virtual rabies, re-tweeted and forwarded to infinity. Who is this strange trilling, smiling Russian man and what does he want?
He is Edward Hill (a multi-broadcast-medium man very key to Soviet cultural/pop cultural heritage) and he just wants to make you happy. The song “I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home” is delivered in a vokaliz style, which is an era standard of word-less singing, pantomime and facial gestures. As one diligent e-scribe explains:
Once one does a bit of research, one learns that the number was not conceived out of some desire to cater to the so-bad-it’s-good tastes of the Western YouTube generation, but in fact was meant to please –to genuinely please– Soviet audiences who were capable of placing this routine, this man, and this song into a familiar context.
Check out this other, well-known, less creepy version which was immediately, nonchalantly recalled by my parents. And so, a tacky, eternally ’70s Soviet decor is gone. Welcome a ’60s hip style in an almost New Wave-ish musical stunt. Likewise, Hill’s haunting skid from squeaky soprano to booming tenor is substituted with Magomayev’s whistling.
And now for Oscar winner Mr. Christoph Waltz (who I was pleased to hear drop a scary Nazi accent down to a Herzogian lilt). In a recent, hilarious mini-mocumentary on Jimmy Kimmel, Waltz speaks “emphatically” about the role of his lifetime. Que same la-la-la-la-la clip re-ancted as Der Humpink. Waltz’s craptacular version of the song is complimented with lamp humping, twirling of violins around crotch, lederhosen and sheep.
The man can do no wrong. Welcome to the American consciousness, Christopher Waltz!