Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ievan Polkka

It's been a while, but music ain't gone anywhere.
Tonight, prepare to rock out to your Finnish polka roots, seriously... this is a catchy song, great harmonics and vocals, and great background music. I listen to this song on repeat. Also, it's fun trying to learn the song and sing along (bet you can't pronounce some of those vocalizations).
  • Artist: Loituma
  • Song: Ievan Polkka

Why I Love this Song:
Every once in a while there's an a cappella song that somehow hits mainstream - or in this case has hit the world stream of whimsically bizarre internet memes - and is melodically and harmonically interesting. This track has multiple layers of vocals whereas as many mainstream a cappella songs have each voice singing something that is a minor theme and variation away from the melody; while I laud the song for it's complex arrangement, the song does (and does it well) have all voices sing the same words in unison in their respective ranges (starting at around 2m 34s). Also interesting in this song, as happens regularly in the arrangements of songs for a cappella groups, the singers are able to use their voices to create textures of sound (around 0m 54s). Also, the group is very tight in their timing; The final refrain has everyone vocalizing stoccato syllables in the same points in time - very great.
Finally, the female lead has an amazing voice and it's impressive just listening to the punctuated, machine gun rapidity of the Nordic rolled 'r.'

What you should not expect from this song:
Sense. Even for those fluent in Finnish, this song is seemingly a list of random words. (source: A Finnish relative)
However, there's competing evidence saying that the song does make sense, once translated into your language:

Cold Hard Facts Section:

  • Artist: Loituma
  • Song: Ievan Polkka
  • Album: Things of Beauty
  • Is it in a Playlist?: Yes. I have it in a playlist (on called "Nordic Folk and Chant Music"
  • Language: Finnish
  • Release Date: 1995 (Finland), 1998 (US), click for source info. (This blog will reference the US release date since this is when the named album was also released. In 1995, the song appeared on the album: "Loituma" but not in the US).
  • Karaoke Difficulty: Just go punch yourself in the face.
  • YouTubeable?: Yes, but expect a dearth search results. For a flood, instead of a drought, of search results try this: "leek girl"
  • Most Notable Youtube Video: Leek Girl. This may be how the song initially infected America, because internet loves the joint venture of leeks, anime girls, 5 frame animated gifs and nonsense and catchy Finnish polka a cappella music, obviously.
  • Is There a Website that Counts How Long You've Listened to A Small Portion of This Song?: YES! You're in luck! Try this site for serious "gu-daka-daka" endurance: I'm currently on 5m 30s.
    • NOTE: This is NOT the full version of the song.
  • Can I Like the on Facebook?: Yes! Search for Loituma
  • Overall Rating: highly repeatable listen.

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