Prisencolinensinainciusol is a song by Italian recording artist Adriano Celentano. The song's lyrics are completely gibberish but are intended to sound like English spoken with an American accent. Various live recordings of the song from the 1970s became viral videos in the late 2000s and the song has been widely used in pop culture. The song has also been the subject of various covers and internet memes.
Adriano Celentano released "Prisencolinensinainciusol" in 1972. In 2012, he explained to NPR that he wanted to create a song about the inability to communicate and because he was influenced by American language and culture, crafted the song to sound like what American English sounds like to foreign ears. He improvised the gibberish over a looping drum beat in the studio.
Though not an instant hit, the song began rising up the charts after Celentano performed the song on Italian television in the mid-70s. One performance found him performing the track on the show Formula Due as a teacher to a class of rapt, dancing students (Upload of that video by Le Pietre Rotolanti shown below, left). A combination of this performance and a video of another television performance when he performed the track with his wife Raffaella Carrà (Upload of that video by 007LVG shown below, right) began going viral in 2009 under the title "What English Sounds Like To Foreigners." That video, since erased from the internet, was covered by Boing Boing on December 17th, 2009.
The song saw substantial internet coverage throughout the 2010s and continued to be a viral hit on YouTube. In 2012, the song was covered by NPR. In 2020, it was covered by Italian news publication The Local. The Le Pietre Rotolanti and 007LVG uploads of the two major performances of the track have gained over 6.2 million and 2.8 million views over ten years, respectively. The song has periodically gone viral on Twitter after a user discovers it or posts it. For example, on November 26th, 2020, Twitter user @HarrietMould posted the video and gained over 42,000 retweets and 202,000 likes in nearly two years (shown below, top). On September 13th, 2022, Twitter user @whitesoxjordan posted about the song, gaining over 1,300 retweets and 18,000 likes in one day (shown below, bottom).
Italian singer Adriano Celentano released a song in the 70s with nonsense lyrics meant to sound like American English, apparently to prove Italians would like any English song. It was a hit, and resulted in this: THE GREATEST VIDEO I HAVE EVER SEEN. pic.twitter.com/B3mQWmQgXq— Harry (@HarrietMould) November 26, 2020
my mom reminded me of the existence of this, she was living in italy and was a little kid who thought this was actual english. the artist made this song with the intention of making it sound like it's in english to prove that italians will listen to anything that sounds american pic.twitter.com/X4IMoZM4nN
— care jordan (@whitesoxjordan) September 14, 2022
The song has seen occasional use in memes. On November 27th, 2020, YouTuber Johnny O posted a CatJAM meme with the song, gaining over 1,800 views in two years (shown below, top). The song has also become a topic of discussion on TikTok. On December 12th, 2021, user danielswall posted a video about the track, gaining over 366,000 likes in nearly one year (shown below, bottom).
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