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Music / Ylvis

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Dog goes "woof",
Cat goes "meow",
Bird goes "tweet" and mouse goes "squeek",
Cow goes "moo",
Frog goes "croak",
And the elephant goes "toot",
Ducks say "quack",
And fish go "blub",
And the seal goes "ow ow ow",
But there's one sound,
That no one knows,
What does the fox say?
"The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"

A Norwegian music/comedy duo, consisting of brothers Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker. Internationally, they are most famous for their hit single "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" which went viral on YouTube after being created for the talk show they host in Norway.

This show, I kveld med Ylvis (Tonight with Ylvis) is currently in its fourth season on the Norwegian channel TVNorge. In addition to the Ylvis brothers, the show also features comedians Magnus Devold and Calle Hellevang-Larsen. (In the second season, Calle was temporarily replaced by Swedish comedian David Batra due to conflicting obligations to his other comedy group, Raske Menn.) As well as songs and guest interviews, the show includes sketches and pranks like:

  • Radio Taxi: Bård and Vegard improvise personalized songs to scare unsuspecting taxi passengers.
  • Kan dettes brukes som vannskis? (Can these be used as water skis?): Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Hyss i Småland (Pranks in Småland): they dress up as 19th century farmers and play pranks.
  • Dagens Spørsmål (Today's Question) and Tid for Hobby (Time for Hobbies): these how-to style segments are filmed in a room that's on the back of a truck driving in circles.
  • Trapped in IKEA: false walls and actors are used to make people lose their way in IKEA
  • The Intelevator: Bård and Vegard pretend to be an voice-activated elevator.
  • Big in Kirgisistan: for which they attempted to become pop stars in Kyrgyzstan.

Besides I kveld med Ylvis, the Ylvisåker brothers have also hosted the program Norges herligeste (Norway's Most Wonderful), in which they visited unusual people around Norway. They also had a radio show called O-fag (in Norwegian, fag means "school subject") and did several live shows before they made it onto TV.

Ylvis has recorded several other songs in English besides "The Fox," including their ode to the American bay state "Massachusetts," the 80s rock ballad parody "Stonehenge," the romantic "Someone Like Me," and the hip-hop parody "Pressure." Additionally, many of their sketches and segments have been subtitled in English and posted on TVNorge's YouTube channel.

Tropes present in their work:

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Stonehenge" is sung by Vegard alone.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the two choruses in The Fox, various ridiculous sounds are proposed for what sound foxes make. However, the last proposed sound before the coda is the most reasonable for an animal with the build of a fox: a howl. Subverted in the coda, where a fox appears and makes ridiculous vocalizations.
  • Award-Bait Song: Parodied in "Someone Like Me", which alternates between a Disney-style romance ballad and a dubstep breakdown.
  • Big Little Brother: Vegard is the older one but also the shorter one.
  • Birds of a Feather: The singers of "Someone Like Me" bond over their mutual love of dubstep.
  • Broadcast Live: I kveld med Ylvis, starting in the fourth season.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Vegard once gave an interview while impersonating Josh Groban. He baited the interviewer into bringing up Ylvis and then mentioned how hilarious they were.
  • Butt-Monkey: Magnus plays this role on I kveld med Ylvis.
  • Childhood Friend: The Ylvis brothers knew Calle from when they were all young and living in Bergen.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Calle plays this up, acting as the "crazy one" who can react with explosive emotions to mundane questions or expose himself in front of celebrities with a completely straight face, as needed.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Calle once made a "travel segment" in which we went to New York and asked locals for tips, all while swearing profusely. Because, as he claims, in order to sound like a real American you've got to swear.
    • Among their English songs is a little ditty known as "You're Fucked", where the F-word is sung in almost every line.
  • Cool, but Stupid: Of "The Fox", one of the brothers said, "even though people find it interesting, it's still a stupid fox song, and when people start to get over this, it gets even worse, because it is so stupid."
  • Defictionalisation: Done preemptively for "Trucker's Hitch".
  • Flair Bartending: This episode of Tid For Hobby.
  • Gratuitous English: They sometimes lapse into English for effect on their show. And of course many of their songs are in English, though this is not necessarily gratuitous however, as most Norwegians understand and speak English quite well.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: In the music video to "Massachusetts"
  • Gratuitous Russian: Despite neither brother speaking Russian, they recorded a whole song in Russian with the help of some Kyrgyz producers as part of their mission to get big in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Improv: Bård and Vegard are able to improvise songs together, and use this ability on their show to ambush people in taxis or on the street with personalized songs.
  • Large Ham: Calle.
  • Legacy Character: The name of Mr. Toot is used by whoever has the toot.
  • Messy Hair: Calle. Dear lord.
  • Moving Buildings: The show I kveld med Ylvis translation  had two segments Dagens Spørsmål translation  and Tid for Hobby translation  apparently set in one of these note . They show mundane tasks being preformed (such as setting up a tent and hammock, or replacing a light in a chandelier) whilst constantly losing balance and being tossed about as the room they're in swerves and shifts about, and not acknowledging the inexplicable motion at any point. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Metal Scream: "Jan Egeland" contains a truly epic one, type 4: "He's a macho muscle-pumping crying god!"
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Many of their songs run on this - Massachusetts, Trucker's Hitch, Jan Egeland...
  • Naked People Are Funny: They have a segment called "Calle Bader" (Calle Bathes) in which all the humor is derived from Calle washing, completely naked, in some public area like a fountain or aquarium.
  • Painful Rhyme: Played for Laughs in "Stonehenge":
    How did they raise the stones so high
    Completely without THE technolo-gye
    We have to-dye?
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Vegard looks very similar to Josh Groban, so when Josh Groban came to Oslo, Vegard attempted to impersonate him and check into a hotel, make it through an interview, and enter Oslo Spektrum without anyone realizing who he really was. He nearly succeeded, too, only getting caught just as he was about to enter Groban's backstage room — even though his disguise was essentially just wearing a hat and speaking English.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Who the fuck builds a Stonehenge?!?"
  • Riddle for the Ages: What does the fox say? What is the meaning of Stonehenge? The questions remain unanswered in the songs.
  • Running Gag: Vegard's supposed Turkish ancestry, Calle being kicked out of the studio while guests visit, Magnus's status as the resident Butt-Monkey.
  • Serious Business: The eponymous monument keeps the protagonist of "Stonehenge" up all night and distracts him during sex, among other things.
  • Sibling Team: Bård and Vegard.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: They play this up a bit, with Vegard as the nicer, dorkier brother and Bård as the cooler and more strong-willed one. Their appearances also contrast, since Bård's got straight blonde hair and blue eyes while Vegard has curly black hair and brown eyes.
  • Silly Animal Sound: "The Fox" is largely about coming up with silly suggestions for what the fox sounds like.
  • Song Parody: The song "Jeg Heter Finn" (My Name Is Finn) is a parody of the Ting Ting's "That's Not My Name."
  • Springtime for Hitler: They had done a favour for production team Stargate, and in return asked that Stargate produce "The Fox" to promote the new season of Ylvis' TV talk show I kveld med YLVIS. The song very quickly caught on and ended up being immensely successful on the charts instead of staying the joke Ylvis had originally created.
  • Switch to English: Frequently, thanks to the high level of English proficiency in Norway and especially since the success of "The Fox" gained them international fans. They've had English-speaking guests on the show before and used English to communicate while they were in Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: For some reason, both brothers can keep their eyes open without blinking for a really long time, which placed them first and second on a task in Kongen befaler, the Norwegian edition of Taskmaster. Note, that's keep open, not hold open. Vegard stopped after 37 minutes due to having something better to do, while Bård kept going for 2 hours and 47 minutes, also of his own accord.note 
  • Two Men, One Dress: Literally the title of these sketches. They take it a step further with two men in one survival suit.
  • The Un-Favourite: There are actually three Ylvisåker brothers — Bård and Vegard have a younger brother, Bjarte. The fact that he's excluded from his brothers' comedy team is parodied in the song I Will Never Be A Star, which he unexpectedly sang in front of a massive crowd in Oslo Spektrum at the opening of Ylvis's concert tour.
  • The Unpronounceable: The name Ylvis gets mispronounced a lot by foreigners, understandably so since English doesn't have the sound that Y makes in Norwegian. (The closest approximation is ILL-vis.)
  • Vocal Tag Team: Bård and Vegard in several songs. Sometimes Calle joins in as well (e.g. in Massachusetts.)
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Both Bård and Vegard when they get incredibly drunk and make dinner in a parody of a Norwegian cooking show.