Little Big’s “Skibidi” video explained by … Inside Edition?

Skibidi-Little-Big

When we first wrote about Little Big’s “Skibidi” video and its accompanying dance — a cross between the Chicken, the Macarena and a splay-legged, fist-thrusting walk I’m gonna propose we call the Funky Stormtrooper — we suggested it had the potential to achieve “Harlem Shake” and “Gangnam Style” heights of dank memeness. And I think we were right; just three weeks since its release, the “Skibidi” video has racked up over 38 million YouTube views and thousands of video responses to the group’s #SkibidiChallenge (here’s a sample).

It’s also beginning to generate some interest outside of LB’s home country of Russia. So far most Western media, understandably, aren’t quite sure what to make of the whole thing. Mixmag, for example, just posted the “Skibidi” video to their Facebook page with the note, “WTF just happened?” (Here’s what happened, Mixmag: You got skibididdled. You got skibididdled so hard. Also, I just Googled “skibididdled” and this is officially the first online use of that word — so you’re welcome, internet.)

For Anglo audiences still bewildered by the sight of all these Russians jerk-stepping through the streets to bad techno, help has arrived in the form of an explanatory video from, of all places, Inside Edition, the long-running American “newsmagazine” show that I thought was mainly in the business of digging up celebrity scandals and hard-hitting investigative reports like “How Dirty Is Your Gym Bag?” Turns out they also have a segment called “Inside Edition Explains” in which they get experts to break down various pop culture phenomena whose appeal might otherwise elude the average Inside Edition viewer. Usually they set their sights on more mainstream fare, like Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video and New York Fashion Week. But not even the primetime ratings-chasing folks at Inside Edition could resist the siren call (or is that a chicken call?) of “Skibidi.”

Full disclosure: An Inside Edition producer actually reached out to me at one point to see if I’d serve as their “Skibidi” expert, and I totally blew it and didn’t get back to them in time. But I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because never in a million years could I have explained “Skibidi” as well as the expert they did get, New York-based Russian musician Tessa Lena of Tessa Fights Robots. Tessa seems to be new to Little Big, so I guess I could’ve given a little more context for who Little Big are and their place in the growing global canon of artists who filter a mishmash of EDM, hip-hop and Western pop music through their own cultural touchpoints to surreal effect (keep that in mind for next time, Inside Edition!). But I was clueless about some of the video’s specifically Russian in-jokes, like turning the traditionally dour cashier of a Soviet-style grocery store into a grinning, “Sikibidi” strutting fool, and the dance’s resemblance to the chicken dance, which has apparently been very popular in Russia going back to the Soviet days and is probably at least partially responsible for the peculiarly spastic way Russian lager louts dance to techno (which, in turn, has clearly inspired many of Little Big’s videos, like this one).

Anyway, here’s Tessa Lena dropping some “Skibidi” knowledge. Spoiler alert: She confirms my suspicion that “‘Skibidi’ in Russian means absolutely nothing” — it’s just a made-up word, which kind of makes me love the song even more. I’ve heard that The Clash’s Joe Strummer, when asked what the greatest rock lyric of all time was, replied, “Awopbopaloobop alopbamboom.” OK, so maybe “Skibidi wa-pa-pa” isn’t quite that inspired, but it’s in the same ballpark.

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Nozinja

Nozinja

We’re back! Sorry we’ve been away for so long. It’s coming up on six years since we’ve been doing this blog and I’m not gonna lie to you: There was awhile there when we were both seriously considering calling it quits. I mean, how many more weird bands can there really be out there? A shit-ton, I’m sure, but we’ve officially reached the point where 99.9% of the emails and comments we get are for shit that’s fucking awful and/or not that weird. So separating the cream from the curdle has actually gotten more difficult as our audience has grown. I know, I know…boo-fucking-hoo, right? At least our audience has grown, so we must be doing something right. Right?

Anyway, starting this week, I solemnly swear that I will post a new weird band every week again, just like the good old days. Andy will pitch in too, sometimes, but he’s got a fancy new job that pays him to go hang out at Coachella and shit, so he won’t be around as much. But your old Uncle Jake here is gonna start driving this blog like a stolen Ferrari again…at least on the weekends.

So to get us back in the swing of things, I figured some good party music was in order. So allow me to present to you Nozinja, inventor of a whole new genre of music called Shangaan electro that is like dance music for hummingbirds. Seriously, I’m winded just listening to this stuff.

Nozinja, whose real name is Richard Mthetwa, is from a part of South Africa called Limpopo, which is a long-ass way from Cape Town, home base of our other favorite South African oddballs, Die Antwoord. Limpopo is in the far northeast of South Africa, next to Botswana and Zimbabwe, and it’s mostly rural and dirt-poor. Among the many native peoples living there is a group called the Shangaans, who are known for the xibelani dance, an insanely fast dance that kind of looks like a cross between a hula dance and twerking. Shangaan electro, pioneered by Nozinja and other local musicians, basically took the rhythms of the xibelani dance, sped them up even more, and replaced traditional drums and other instruments with lo-fi synths and drum machines. And presto! A crazy new dance music genre was born.

Shangaan electro is so great, it probably would’ve gone worldwide eventually. But Nozinja sure helped jump-start that process. Using the money he’d earned from running a chain of cell phone repair shops, the budding Dr. Dre of Limpopo went all-in on a home recording studio and began cranking this stuff out. He even made a few goofy, low-budget videos that are all the more awesome because, against all the screen-saver graphics and random shots of backup singers dancing in what we assume is his front yard, Nozinja’s still sporting his cell phone repair shop owner wardrobe. He looks like he wandered in from a Ross Dress for Less ad, but he’s still got more swag that a thousand shitty gangsta rappers.

Such brilliance couldn’t remain undiscovered for long…and sure enough, Nozinja signed to Warped fuckin’ Records in 2014. Yes, that Warp Records, home to Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin. Not surprisingly, in his first video for Warp, “Tsekeleke,” he’s sporting a much more stylin’ wardrobe.

Nozinja’s debut full-length album, Nozinja Lodge, comes out on Warp on June 2nd. We cannot fucking wait. We’re gonna strap on our xibelani skirts and dance to that shit like hummingbirds.

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Weird of the Day: MC Diva, “Girl From St. Pauli”

MC Diva

Polish dance music is an endless fount of weirdness, at least to those of us who aren’t Polish. One of these days we’ll devote an entire post to the accordions-on-ecstasy subgenre called disco polo, but in the meantime, we’d like to share with you another Polish dance-pop artist called MC Diva. We discovered her via an online article called “Short Guide to Four Decades of Disco” (warning: it’s not actually that short) on the very cool website Culture.pl, a guide to all things artsy in Poland. (Shout-out to Kasia from Culture.pl, who wrote to us and shared the article.) That article describes MC Diva’s sound as “power dance”:

No one made [power dance] more popular than MC Diva (Krystyna Stolarska). Her music brought together European hi-nrg from the label ZYX Records and American dance hits. She was a Polish star but she also had followers in the U.S. She performed with DJ Bobo, Fun Factory and E-Rotic. The Polish element in “Dziewczyna z St. Pauli (Girl from St.Pauli)” is the subversive violin.

I don’t know if I’d call the violin on this track (played by Stolarska herself) “subversive,” but it sure is fun. And the video, in which the Diva dances around with buff shirtless dudes, looking like the Polish Sandra Bernhard, is even more fun. (The song and video, by the way, appear to be from around 1994 or ’95, although we couldn’t pin down the exact release date.)

Weird of the Day: Jeff Richards, “Muscle Bitch”

Jeff Richards

Apparently this Jeff Richards fellow was once in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but I gotta be honest: I have zero recollection of him on that show. Either he was seriously under-utilized or he got funnier, because there’s no forgetting him in this new video from his dance-pop comedy album, The Shingles 2009-2014.

To find out more about Richards and his music, read this. And to get The Shingles (for free!), visit his website.

Weird of the Day: Nozinja, “Tsekeleke”

Nozinga

One of our latest obsessions is something called “shangaan electro,” a new style of electronic dance music from South Africa whose leading emissary is large gentleman with a penchant for strapping pink feathers to his arms by the name of Nozinja. Shangaan electro is the latest offshoot of a whole host of pop music styles from South Africa and neighboring countries that combine traditional African folk music with synthesizers and elements of house, disco and hip-hop. The music itself is probably only weird to western ears, but I’m guessing that even to South Africans, Nozinja is a pretty unique character. We’ve been binge-watching shangaan electro videos on YouTube all day and no one else comes close to his dance moves or fashion sense.

Fun, right? Nozinja just signed to the U.K. electronic label Warp, home to the likes of Autechre and Grizzly Bear, so every hipster blog on the planet will probably be freaking out about him shortly. You can brag to all your hipster friends that you heard him here first.

Amplifly Aerial Band

Amplifly Aerial Band

Remember that scene in Up in the Air where George Clooney and Anna Kendrick and that other lady whose name I forget all crash a corporate conference party? And in the middle of the party, Young MC comes out and does “Bust a Move” and the crowd goes wild and starts bumpin’ name tags and sweatin’ through their white dress shirts? Looked pretty fun, right? Especially because George Clooney was there.

Now imagine that same scene, except this time…well, OK, this time George Clooney isn’t there, but this time, Young MC flies out over the crowd doing a Britney Spears cover. I just blew your mind, didn’t I?

This is what Amplifly Aerial Band does: Blow minds at corporate events. They’re a “high end corporate event band” from Utah that straps their singers and guitar players into harnesses and flies them around the room, Cirque du Soleil style. They also sometimes dress them up Daft Punk-style in motorcycle helmets with blinky raver lights on them. They call their performers…wait for it…”Flyborgs.” I could never think this shit up, could you?

I assume the only reason Amplifly Aerial Band is not already the biggest corporate event band on the planet is because they’re from Utah. Do they have corporations there? I always thought it was all just Mormons and ski resorts, but then again I don’t travel much.

Anyway, Amplifly Aerial Band crushed the competition in our latest Weird Band Poll, which can only mean that global domination is not far behind. Congrats, guys! If we ever decide to incorporate, we are totally booking you for our IPO party.

Here’s what I believe is known in the biz as a “sizzle reel” showing the Amplifly kids in action. Oh, yeah, did I mention they also play some dubstep? I bet if Skrillex flew around during his shows, he wouldn’t suck nearly so hard.

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Donny Varper

Donny Varper

Anyone know if Michael Jackson visited Nicaragua sometime in the late ’80s? If he did—and sired an illegitimate child during his stay—that’s one of two possible explanations for the existence of the exotic creature known as Donny Varper. The other possible explanation? That he really is, as he claims, from another galaxy.

We first learned of Nicaragua’s weirdest progeny by way of a great little website called EarBleed.com, which is kinda like our site except that—as you might have surmised from the name EarBleed.com—most of the music they feature is fucking awful. I suppose Donny Varper’s stuff is kinda awful, too—it’s basically just shlocky dance-pop, with lots of stabby synths and cheesy breakdowns and Auto-Tuned vocals—but it’s catchy and filled with random references to UFOs and aliens and Aztec aliens who came to Earth in UFOs and…oh, hell, just watch and listen for yourself.

Brilliant, right? He’s like a Lady Gaga impersonator who dropped acid at a Blasted Mechanism concert and had a vision of Jesus and Quetzalcoatl swooping down in a flaming chariot and abducting him into an episode of Ancient Aliens.

We don’t know much more about Varper, except that he lists his gender as “electronic pop” (which kinda makes sense, actually) and he claims to be from another galaxy but now, according to his Facebook page, lives in Los Angeles. If that last part is true: Donny, hit us up! We’d love to be the first (as far as we can tell) American blog to interview you and help you spread your music of cosmic love to the English-speaking masses.

We’ll leave you with Varper’s catchiest and most batshit creation, a little song and video called “E.T.” that should really, if there is any hope left for humanity, become the next “Gangnam Style.” I look forward to your parody videos, YouTube Nation. Get on it.

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