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“Sandstorm” is a 1999 trance techno song by the Finnish electronic music producer Darude. Upon its release, the song instantly gained mainstream recognition and continues to remain relevant as a pre-game “pump-up” track before sporting events and background music for a wide range of videos hosted online, most notably during live-streamed sessions of the multiplayer arena game League of Legends (LoL) on Twitch.
“Sandstorm” was released in Finland on November 15th, 1999 by 16 Inch Records. In 2000, Darude released a music video for the track in which he is shown wearing headphones while witnessing two people chase a woman carrying a mysterious case (shown below).
On June 21st, 2007, YouTuber GameStream uploaded a video featuring Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare gameplay footage with “Sandstorm” playing in the background. In eight years, the video gained over four million views and 7,600 comments. On January 1st, 2009, YouTuber fireandice uploaded a video of a man playing “Sandstorm” on a toy trumpet (shown below, right). On November 8th, Redditor infobrains submitted a reupload of the video to the /r/WTF subreddit, where it garnered upwards of 900 up votes and 80 comments prior to being archived.
On June 12th, 2013, Redditor amnbassist submitted a screenshot of a “Sandstorm” lyrics page from the Pandora music app to the /r/funny subreddit. Prior to being archived, the post accumulated more than 1,100 up votes and 15 comments.
On July 24th, the LCS Highlights YouTube channel uploaded a LoL gameplay video in which player TheOddOne completes a quadra kill while listening to “Sandstorm” (shown below). The same day, the video was submitted to the /r/leagueoflegends subreddit where it gained over 1,900 up votes and 200 comments. Afterwards, users on the video streaming service Twitch and Youtube began falsely identifying any background music as “’Darude – Sandstorm”, similar to the anime recommend trolling Boku No Pico.
On November 22nd, Urban Dictionary user Faker-senpai submitted an entry for “Darude – Sandstorm,” citing TheOddOne’s stream as the origin of the meme on Twitch. On November 25th, Redditor Orion66 reposted the toy trumpet “Sandstorm” video to the /r/videos subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 4,500 up votes and 240 comments in the first three months.
On January 15th, 2015, the electronic music news blog InTheMix published an interview with Darude, in which he was asked about the online resurgence in popularity of “Sandstorm.” Darude responded by noting he had seen the song being mentioned on League of Legends discussion boards and that he was “weirded out by it at first.”
InTheMix: “There’s obviously been a resurgence of interest due to internet phenomena; when did you start to see that happen?”
Darude: "It’s a thing, wherever I go and play somewhere, it’s usually requested, or the promoter asks if I’m going to play Sandstorm. I understand that people do come to my shows because that’s what they know best. I’ve seen the chatter on these boards for games like League Of Legends, and gamers are a lot of the reason there has been this renewed interest.
I don’t know when it started, but seeing it online where someone asks “song name?” and now somebody always replies “Darude – ‘Sandstorm’” or all these variations, I see it all over my YouTube pages. I was weirded out by it at first, I didn’t understand what was going on. It was strange. Now I’ve actually played a couple of gamer conferences, all related to that kind of stuff. I’m cool with that, I’m not going to be pissed off about someone spreading my name and the name of my track around, whether it’s a joke, or a meme, it works for me."