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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Of course Little Big’s two new music videos are amazing

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I’m just gonna declare it right here: No other band on the planet is making music videos more wildly entertaining and creative than Little Big‘s. The Russian rave band that first caught our eye four years ago with delirious clips like “Every Day I’m Drinking” have, at this point, surpassed their most obvious influence, Die Antwoord. By my count, they’ve released over 20 music videos and they’re all varying degrees of awesome, with their own surrealist sensibility and manic energy.

In just the last three weeks, they’ve released two of their best clips yet. The first one, “AK-47,” bites animation from Walt Disney and Rick and Morty to lampoon gun-nut culture more brazenly than any American artist has had the balls to do. They also shamelessly embedded their tour dates (which, alas, appear to be limited to just Russia) in the video — a marketing stunt so obvious I’m surprised I haven’t seen it before, although it does mean the video will be outdated in just a couple months. Then again, the implication that a video this elaborate was done more for the sake of marketing than to make a Piece of Art That Will Stand the Test of Time is a pretty impressive flex.

They dropped that insanity on Sept. 21. Then, just two weeks later, they returned with a video for a new track called “Skibidi,” off the just-released second half of their two-part album Antipositive. It introduces a new dance called, well, the Skibidi, which in its simplified form can be done while walking down the street, purchasing vodka, and possibly even having sex. It’s also a great way for street gangs to resolve their differences, just like in West Side Story and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

As part of the release of “Skibidi,” Little Big have issued a #skibidichallenge, encouraging fans to upload their own versions of the Skibidi dance to YouTube and Instagram. It’s only been six days, so the Skibidi hasn’t achieved Harlem Shake-like ubiquity just yet. But there already appear to be hundreds of entries, of which this one so far is our favorite. Russian Home Depot looks way more fun than American Home Depot.

And although WordPress apparently won’t let me embed Instagram videos, I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct your attention to this one, because nothing is so funny that an inflatable dinosaur costume can’t make it funnier.

If any TWBITW readers wanna send us their #skibidichallenge dance videos, please do! If we get enough good ones, we’ll include them in a future post.

Andy posted his 10 favorite weird videos of 2014 on his day job’s site. Don’t tell his bosses.

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Zebra Katz: he made a pretty weird video this year

Hey, so remember how we took that looooong break a couple months back? Well, contrary to Internet rumor, it wasn’t just because we went off our meds. (That was just me.) The main reason it happened was because my partner Andy got himself a fancy-pants new job as the music editor for LA Weekly. They still come out once a week in newsprint form, which seems kinda last century to me, but everyone I talk to assures me it’s still a pretty big deal. So yeah, you should all congratulate him and shit.

Anyway, this means Andy now gets to sneak some weird content onto the LA Weekly website from time to time. He was freelancing for them before, so he’s already gotten some weirdness on there, but now that he’s a shot caller it may become a regular thing. Our devious scheme to spread weird music to the masses is coming to fruition!

So here’s the first weird train pulling out of the LA Weekly station on Andy’s watch: a recap of 10 of our favorite weird videos from the past year. Yeah, Andy threw “Turn Down for What” in there, but the rest of it’s pretty out there for a website that still puts itself into newsprint form once a week.

Andy’s still trying to impress his bosses, so be sure to check out the full list on LAWeekly.com so they gets lots of page views and shit. Maybe you could even leave a comment or tweet it or post a selfie of you jerking off to it on Snapchat or whatever you damn kids do these days. Basically, just spread the word, K?

Little Big stitch together a “Dead Unicorn” in gruesome new video

Little Big

We had a feeling that after their last video, the Yo Gabba Gabba-esque “Public Enemy,” Russian rap-ravers Little Big were going to return to the dark side. And boy did they ever. “Dead Unicorn,” their latest, combines child rape, skin suspension, human centipedes and the Saw movies with, well, unicorns. Dead ones. It’s hard to watch and you won’t be able to look away.

Sorry you can’t unsee that.

On the brighter side: Little Big have promised some European tour dates in February and March, culminating in an appearance at the Paaspop Festival in the Netherlands April 3-5. Given the current shitty state of affairs between Russia and the U.S., we’re not holding our breath for any Stateside dates, but maybe—like a magical, non-sewn-together-from-dead-bodies unicorn—they’ll pleasantly surprise us.

Little Big put on their happy faces for “Public Enemy”

Little Big

When your last videos featured zombies dancing in a junkyard and real-life hooligans beating the shit out of each other, how do you top yourself? For Russian rap-ravers Little Big, it’s simple: Get a bunch of dumb, off-the-shelf Halloween costumes and make a video so relentlessly, children’s-television shiny and happy, it somehow comes across as the darkest, most punk-rock shit you’ve done yet.

“Public Enemy” starts off pretty silly, with Little Biggers Olympia Ivleva, Ilya Prusikin and Sergey Gokk Makarov dressed up as, respectively, a carrot, a banana and a lobster. (Worst smoothie ever.) There’s also a bunch of other folks dressed up as various animals and vegetables, as well as cops, prisoners and that evil clown guy who shows up in all their videos. There’s even a dashingly blue-eyed guy in a turban flying an airplane who can’t possibly be a terrorist because he’s all smiles, right, Little Big? Right? What, what the fuck is happening? Are those the World Trade Center towers? And a bear, the symbol of Russia, biting a Crimea-sized chunk off a map of the Ukraine? Oh, now I get it. You’re smiling ironically. This is secretly a video about how much everything sucks. You got me, Little Big!

This video would probably have a bazillion plays by now, but for some reason, they’ve disabled embedding on it. Maybe they figure Putin will never see it if it’s only on YouTube? Anyway, yeah, it’s only on YouTube. Follow this link if you want to watch it, as I highly recommend you do.

“Public Enemy” is the opening track off Little Big’s first album, With Russia From Love, which is now streaming in its entirety (at least we think it’s the whole thing) on their website. Hopefully they’ll be making more videos for the rest of the record soon, because they continue to create some of the most outrageous, eye-popping stuff this side of Die Antwoord.

Little Big

Little Big

God bless Die Antwoord. If those crazy South Africans hadn’t pointed the way with their over-the-top rap-rave anthems and even more over-the-top music videos, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the Polish “Slavschool” hip-hop of Donatan and we definitely wouldn’t have the Russian rap-rave anthems of Little Big, who are basically Die Antwoord after too much vodka.

On one level, Little Big resembles Die Antwoord so much that they almost seem derivative. Their music is glitchy and uptempo; their videos are grotesque, absurb and occasionally shocking; their lead singer is a skinny tattooed dude who used to be a hip-hop-loving performance artist. (Die Antwoord’s Ninja, aka Waddy Jones, got his start doing more high-brow, satirical with projects like Max Normal; Little Big’s Ilya Prusikin honed his mic skills doing raps dressed up as Josef Stalin.) Even Little Big’s two midget members, Olympia Ivleva and Anna Kast, are reminiscent of Leon Botha, the late Die Antwoord collaborator with progeria syndrome—although that’s probably a totally unfair comparison because for all I know, Kast and Ivleva are integral singers/songwriters/producers in Little Big who just happen to be little people.

And yet, for all the obvious indebtedness to Die Antwoord—and, I suspect, to the videos of Donatan—there’s something about Little Big that is thrillingly original, too. Their hyper-kinetic videos are especially addictive, recasting the stereotypical images of Russian culture—the folk dancers, the vodka, the tracksuit-clad hooligans, the drab, Cold War-era military uniforms, even a balaclava nod to Pussy Riot—as the ghetto-fabulous trappings of a non-stop dance party. And even though their music is almost entirely electronic, there’s a manic, gypsy-punk energy to it. They’re like a raver version of Gogol Bordello, especially on their most popular track, “Everyday I’m Drinking”:

And if you thought that was a wild ride, get a load of “Life in da Trash,” in which a junkyard doubling as a zombie prison camp turns into an apocalyptic dance party and, judging from some heavy-handed title cards, a metaphor for modern life. Prusikin told Vice UK that he’s also a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, which makes total sense after you watch this.

Little Big have an album coming out later this month—their first, I believe. They have a pair of album release shows coming up in St. Petersburg and Moscow and just released a new video earlier today to promote them. It’s called “With Russia From Love” and it gives me oddly amorous feelings towards goats. And makes me want to dance like a Cossack on meth.

P.S. Huge thanks to reader Vass for introducing us to these guys. You made our week, Vass!

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