ARGH what was this SONG
January 9, 2014 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Years ago there was a song on A Prarie Home Companion, sung by a chorus with no instrumentation, that sounded almost like it was in Swedish Chef Swedish, and included banging noises. I know little else about it, but have been trying to identify it and find out who sung it. Googling doesn't help. Can any of you?

Years ago, at least six I think, in passing I heard a very strange song on A Prairie Home Companion. It sounded like it was in Swedish, and it was sung without instrumental accompaniment by a chorus. The Swedish it sounded like was very Swedish Chef-like, down to including a word that I seem to remember sounding like bork, or some other, sharp, short word. I remember there was a place where they made banging noises to punctuate the word. While the lyrics (which I didn't understand) were somewhat funny in how they sounded, there was also a great melancholy aspect to the song. I have never heard anything like it since.

I heard only part of it, in passing, and years ago, so please take into account any memory decay that might have occurred between then and now. And I know literally nothing else about it, what it's called, who performed it, whether it was really Swedish, or another language, or gibberish, or anything. But it has completely resisted my attempts to Google for it, and it continues to pop up in memory from time to time, so I figured I should ask if any of you might be able to identify it from my description.
posted by JHarris to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds kind of like you could be describing the "Hut Sut Song" but I'm not seeing that it was ever performed on PHC (which is very surprising actually, to the point where I'm thinking my google fu is off).

Here's a video of the song being performed.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2014

Was it a version of the Ying Tong Song?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: It's not Hut Sut Ralson, I'm certain of that.
posted by JHarris at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: I know it's not Ying Tong either.

I know of both those songs, and think they're awesome, but that means I'm certain they're not this one.
posted by JHarris at 1:26 PM on January 9, 2014

Might it have been something by Spike Jones, such as his version of The Hawaiian War Chant?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:28 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: It's not Spike Jones. I have the feeling that, regardless of what it sounded like to me, the song wasn't a novelty song. It sounded like it might actually be traditional, or something.
posted by JHarris at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2014

Was it any of these?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:41 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: It is not, sorry.
posted by JHarris at 1:46 PM on January 9, 2014

Anything by the Finnish shouting choir?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:47 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: (I flipped through it bit by bit to determine, the song is very distinctive, which is why I remember it even now. It had a bunch of people singing in chorus, although it did sound more shouty than singing.)

I got my hopes up when I saw the words Finnish shouting choir, but it's not them either I fear, there was a woman singing lead.
posted by JHarris at 1:50 PM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: Was it "El Hambo" by Chicago A Capella? You can hear an excerpt on their website. The sample includes "bork bork!" and clapping.
posted by castlebravo at 1:52 PM on January 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: That's it!! Thanks very much castlebravo! Listen to that everyone why dontcha.
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here's another choir singing it on YouTube.

I might make a post out of this, thanks again, this has been lurking in the back of my brain, "hey yuck-a-duck-a-doody-hohty" and everything, for years. Nice to finally know I didn't imagine it!
posted by JHarris at 2:05 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: Reading up more on it, the lyrics turn out to be nonsense, which I kind of suspected.
posted by JHarris at 2:13 PM on January 9, 2014

For what it's worth -- the lyrics are indeed nonsense (at least in Swedish), but are actually pretty similar to the sort of folderol nonsense syllables that you often get in actual Swedish trad folk music -- for example. (The exception is the "bork bork", which doesn't sound like Swedish or like Swedish-style nonsense, but is presumably a muppet homage...). The hambo is also a real thing, though I'm not sure whether this piece technically fits the the musical definition of a hambo.
posted by pont at 9:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This page has the writer of El Hambo, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, stating plainly the Swedish Chef's influence:
This song is thoughtful, goofy joy—a song about dance and about how we think about dance. The hambo is a Swedish folk dance in 3/4 time. El Hambo takes the idea a large step further. Mäntyjärvi writes that "this augmented hambo in 5/4 time is something of a tribute to those folk musicians whose enthusiasm much exceeds their sense of rhythm.... The somewhat arrogant title is intended to suggest (rather like La Valse) an apotheosis of the genre, The Mother of All Hambos if you like, or even The Hambo to End All Hambos.... Sources of inspiration for this piece include, surprisingly, genuine Norwegian choral folk song arrangements and of course the Swedish Chef in The Muppet Show." The words, notated in Finnish, are complete nonsense.
posted by JHarris at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2014

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