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Prisencolinensinainciusol - Ol Raight!
October 22, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Sung in incoherent pseudo-English, Adriano Celentano's Prisencolinensinainciusol (1973) could be thought of as an early example of rap.
posted by dunkadunc (64 comments total) 221 users marked this as a favorite

 
But, is it art?
posted by Xurando at 2:31 PM on October 22, 2009


Yes. YES.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:35 PM on October 22, 2009


Awesome.
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on October 22, 2009


It's English... no wait, Italian .... no wait English ... Simlish...?!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fuckin' right.
posted by gman at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2009


I love this. There are very few things in the world that are this rock and roll.
posted by elmer benson at 2:42 PM on October 22, 2009


Greg Wilson cut a fabulous re-edit of this song - described here. Even more relentless!
posted by gyusan at 2:46 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was great! Anyone else got any more obscure Jon Spencer links?
posted by mannequito at 2:47 PM on October 22, 2009


Oll raigth!
posted by wanderingmind at 2:53 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love that song. Excellent.
posted by everichon at 2:54 PM on October 22, 2009


More bits and pieces: lyrics, recordings (and covered versions ga-lore, plus a a re-edit by George Wilson, which can be heard here), original videos #1 and #2, new live video with an interview in Italian, and an unexpected segue on Italian TV (the last two from a fan of Adriano Celentano, who has a lot more clips of Celentano).

Apparently, the song is about "incommunicability" because in modern times people are not able to communicate to each other anymore, and "prisencolinensinainciusol" is supposed to stand for "universal love."
posted by filthy light thief at 3:02 PM on October 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


The linked version is a combination of two clips for the song: The Classroom (the video is unfortunately incomplete) and the black and white dancers.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:02 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's an early form of creeping insanity. I like it.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:20 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


a) AWESOME
b) that is one big soundstage for the black-and-white dancers. Like, really, really big.
posted by GuyZero at 3:22 PM on October 22, 2009


Reminds me of the WKRP theme song.
posted by zippy at 3:41 PM on October 22, 2009


Cool. The english-sounding but incomprehensible nature of that video reminds me of Chacarron. Which could be thought of as a much later example of reggaeton. Or something like that.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:47 PM on October 22, 2009


b) that is one big soundstage for the black-and-white dancers. Like, really, really big.

It's fairly large, but made to feel bigger by creative use of mirrors (which are obscured by the low-quality video). They're really obvious in certain cuts.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:51 PM on October 22, 2009


I love this.
posted by mdonley at 3:55 PM on October 22, 2009


That may be the coolest thing that happened in 1973.

Anywhere.

In the world.

(The next coolest would be that Adriano Celentano song from around the same time that steals the smokin' guitar break from Gene Vincent's "Lotta Lovin'".)
posted by Faze at 4:08 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


previously: I have heard the future. It happened in 1974 .
posted by philip-random at 5:57 PM on October 9 [8 favorites +] [!]
posted by Edward L at 4:35 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dig it! I dig it the most!
wonderful treat, thank you.
posted by quazichimp at 4:46 PM on October 22, 2009


previously: I have heard the future. It happened in 1974 .
posted by philip-random at 5:57 PM on October 9 [8 favorites +] [!]


I caught that as well, and immediately began disseminating this gem via Facebook feed. Perhaps its made its way back here through six degrees of separation. Or maybe its just awesome. Glad it got to the blue.
posted by captain cosine at 4:46 PM on October 22, 2009


Holy shit. This same guy did a great Spaghetti-Western-ish track called Yuppi Du which I'm pretty fond of. But this one is incredibly infectious.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:21 PM on October 22, 2009


What. Unh. Yeah.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 5:31 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This... this... this is just so magnificently dopey, so majestically absurd. It is, at one and the same time, completely selfconscious and yet, in its execution, as unselfconscious as a child engrossed in play. I am in awe.

This is the liberation of the human spirit through bizarre artifice. This man took an idea, a sound in his head, that is, his personal impression of the character of another language, and ran with it. Spectacularly unlikely. This rather goofy (in stage persona, at least) Italian fellow, in 1973, not only delivered to us some kind of proto-rap, but the over-the-top dance routine (from what seems like about 500 people) also prefigured the Bollywood extravaganzas of the following years and of today.

Arrangement-wise, it's stripped down to essentials in a very modern way. It's dry as a bone. The bare-facts boom-tchik groove is perfect, not a crash cymbal or an electric guitar to be heard (perhaps we can add Minimal House to the 'this guy got there first' list?), and that slightly ominous drone running throughout is ahead of its time. The unison group chants are simultaneously exuberant and oddly dark, the repeating horn pattern is just what the doctor ordered for between vocal-line snacks, and it all ends with... a harmonica solo!

OLL RIGHT!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 PM on October 22, 2009 [27 favorites]


He's a terrible lip-syncher, though...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:37 PM on October 22, 2009


This may even beat Antony Carmichael!
posted by setanor at 6:08 PM on October 22, 2009


Someone explain to me what is going on here. I just spent three hours studying for an Italian exam and I'm afraid this somehow managed to suck it all out of my head.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:27 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


...this somehow managed to suck it all out of my head.

The awesome power of gobbledeygook.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck me, that's great and answers the question, "What if Os Mutantes had been Italian?"
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:21 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


a re-edit by George Wilson, which can be heard here

That version is freaking fantastic.
A+++ WILL GW RUFF EDIT AGAIN!

According to Wikipedia, one of Adriano's daughters, Rosalinda Celentano, played Satan in The Passion of the Christ.
posted by dammitjim at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2009


The percussion isn't funky enough for rap. House, maybe?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2009


filthy light thief: "More bits and pieces: lyrics, recordings (and covered versions ga-lore, plus a a re-edit by George Wilson, which can be heard here ), original videos #1 and #2 , new live video with an interview in Italian, and an unexpected segue on Italian TV (the last two from a fan of Adriano Celentano, who has a lot more clips of Celentano).

Apparently, the song is about "incommunicability" because in modern times people are not able to communicate to each other anymore, and "prisencolinensinainciusol" is supposed to stand for "universal love."
"

Wow. I was fixing to get miffed because I was thinking about posting about this, but apparently I wasn't the only one (and this blows what I had in mind out of the water).

The only stuff I have left to add:

- The New Yorker's take: "In 1970, an Italian man recorded a song long before disco and rap that is very close to both, and then an unnamed person choreographed it for a battalion of dancers in a hall of mirrors. If the results are really as miraculous as they seem right now, and I am not just talking myself into something, it is precisely because “Prisencolinensinainciusol” is such a loving presentation of silliness. Would any grown performer allow themselves this level of playfulness now? Wouldn’t a contemporary artist feel obliged add a tinge of irony or innuendo to make it clear that they were “knowing” and “sophisticated”? It’s not clear what would be gained by darkening this piece of cotton candy, or what more you could know about it: it is perfect as is."

- Celentano's rationale for the song was that, after releasing albums about ecology and social issues, "having just recorded an album of songs that meant something, I wanted to do something that meant nothing."

- Celentano is the "Italian Elvis" but is pretty obscure outside of Italy

- His daughter played Satan in Gibson's Passion of the Christ

- Celentano on a tiny tricycle
posted by Rhaomi at 7:44 PM on October 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


I really don't see what all the fuss is about. It's perfectly intelligible English to my ears.

Here's proof.

(Watch with annotations turned on, Youtube self-link)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:03 PM on October 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


The linked version is a combination of two clips for the song

I found that this fact meshed well with the kookiness of the song. The two have absolutely nothing to do with anything, or each other, which adds awesome. Also, those black and white dancers are pretty ferocious.
posted by dammitjim at 8:11 PM on October 22, 2009


Evidently this was the b-side
posted by aubilenon at 8:22 PM on October 22, 2009


(that video is just some youtuber)
posted by aubilenon at 8:24 PM on October 22, 2009


original video #1

Sorry for the gaps and mistakes. My Italian isn't what it used to be. If anybody cares to make corrections, feel free


-Lucia Parese?

-Present.

-Stefania Paride?

-Present.

-Barbra Streisand...Barbra Streisand?

-Listen, Professor...

-Yes, speak.

-How is it that he wrote a song with strange words that don't mean anything?
[Note: She omits the pronoun. Italian has ambiguity here with the third person singular, which is also used when addressing someone formally.]

-Who?

-You.

-Well, see, young lady...which is the camera? It's this one, yes? I understood that in today's world, we don't understand anything anymore. Therefore, it's difficult, one doesn't __________ anymore. All that remains is _______________________ . And so, I had the opportunity to make a song on the theme..._____________...the theme of incommunicability. That is, we don't communicate. We are incomm...you understand? It was an old TV show that was before...____________

-Thank you.

-No, remain standing, please, because I haven't finished talking. I was saying that I _________________ this theme of incommunicability, leaving ___________ a single word, which was "prisencolinensinainciusol," which means "universal love." So, if you wish to perform a gesture of love towards someone...and there's no one else up here, just me...it's enough that you say "prisencolinensinainciusol"....and...that's all. Sit down. Now, I want to see if you all have prepared for this, this thing.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:59 PM on October 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm liking this argot.
posted by tellurian at 9:02 PM on October 22, 2009


Apparently, the song is about "incommunicability" because in modern times people are not able to communicate to each other anymore, and "prisencolinensinainciusol" is supposed to stand for "universal love."

My Italian is rusty* but I'm pretty sure he's explaining this to the student in the intro of the "classroom" version of the video. Can anyone translate it in detail?

(Also, apparently, Barbara Streisand didn't make it to class that day.)

At any rate, it's awesome.

*My italian is actually two years of high-school Spanish.
posted by mmoncur at 9:07 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hydrophonic: thanks for reading my mind and translating that before I asked you to.
posted by mmoncur at 9:08 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


an unexpected segue on Italian TV

With Manu Chao/Mano Negra no less!
posted by hydrophonic at 9:09 PM on October 22, 2009


...and a long slow-mo ass close-up! hydrophonic wins!!
posted by mannequito at 10:19 PM on October 22, 2009


This is completely awesome. I looked for this song on Itunes and they didn't have it! Argh!
posted by Eclipsante at 10:26 PM on October 22, 2009


In its way, there's something Hensonesque about it. But maybe it's just the dancing...
posted by bicyclefish at 11:00 PM on October 22, 2009


hydrophonic wins!!

Nope. Rhaomi wins.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:25 PM on October 22, 2009


Next time somebody on AskMe asks what english sounds like to people who don't speak english... I think we have our answer.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:36 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


GLORIOUS HARMONICA SOLO.

goodnewsfortheinsane, I love you. You're the color of majesty!
posted by po at 2:19 AM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


- a performance and TV interview from 2006 (?)

- complete beginning of the "mirrors" video (I'd love to hear a translation of the talk beforehand)

- a modern cover performance by Bugo (?)

- cover version by Alessia Gioffi

-
awesome cover version by Bulgarian pop singer Vanentin Asenov

- 1987 performance by Celentano (first part of the classroom bit)

- live performance by a tribute band (?!)
posted by mmoncur at 2:33 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, this is awesome. I think the main female dancer invents headbanging at 3:05.
posted by dosterm at 4:04 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the main female dancer invents headbanging at 3:05.

Yes.

She is totally badass.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 AM on October 23, 2009


BuddhaInABucket: This actually was an answer in a question I made to AskMe this week asking what English sounds like to non-native speakers.

CitrusFreak12: Don't worry, it's not supposed to be Italian. It's supposed to be "English." Or rather, it's supposed to sound like English.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:02 AM on October 23, 2009


Egads. This was the art form that Bob Dylan had always aspired to but never quite achieved.
posted by spamguy at 6:53 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the main female dancer invents headbanging at 3:05.


That's Raffaella Carra, whoa has some pretty great videos of her own.
posted by vansly at 8:04 AM on October 23, 2009


questa e una canto di adriano celentano e rafella cara. non posso capire niente. puo tradurre la?

prisencolinensinainciusol

(koro)
in de col men seivuan
prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
uis de seim cius men
op de seim ol uat men
in de colobos dai
trr...
ciak is e maind beghin de col
bebi stei ye push yo oh
uis de seim cius men
in de colobos dai
not is de seim laikiu
de promisdin iu nau
in trabol lovgiai ciu gen
in do camo not cius no bai
for lov so op op giast
cam lau ue cam lov ai
oping tu stei laik cius
go mo men
iu bicos tue men cold
dobrei gorls
oh sandei...

(koro)
ai ai smai sesler
eni els so co uil piso ai
in de col men seivuan

(koro)
prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
uei ai sint no ai
giv de sint laik de cius
nobodi oh gud taim lev feis go
uis de seim et seim cius
go no ben let de cius
end kai for not de gai giast stei
ai ai smai senflecs
eni go for doing peso ai
in de col mein seivuan
prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
lu nei si not sicidor
ah es la bebi la dai big iour

(koro)
ai ai smai senflecs
eni go for doin peso ai
in de col mein saivuan
prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
lu nei si not sicodor
ah es la bebi la dai big iour
posted by Xoebe at 8:19 AM on October 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, aubilenon's b-side has the same horn riff as the a-side.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:20 AM on October 23, 2009


Amazing. Thanks, dunkadunc.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2009


I was sure this was some fake modern mashup of old video clips and some new Beck track. Awesome.
posted by HeroZero at 3:27 PM on October 23, 2009


I finally figured out what song this reminds me of, Roadrunner (Twice) by Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers.
posted by Kattullus at 8:50 PM on October 23, 2009


If Mummenschanz spoke, this is what it would sound like. Audible awesome.
posted by chemoboy at 8:43 PM on October 24, 2009


>"not a crash cymbal or an electric guitar to be heard"

definitely a mean electric guitar snarling in the right channel - mostly chugging on the drone note but also supplying a low descending riff (helping the ominous feel) and throwing in a bunch of higher funky accents and pull-offs
posted by sloe at 11:33 PM on October 24, 2009


This is indeed awesome, and I'm sort of shocked that it hadn't shown up in an FPP before this. It's certainly been linked in a few comments, including this one I made the day before this post went up. I got scooped!
posted by speicus at 12:26 AM on October 25, 2009


OMG I am in love, this is, perhaps the FINEST find on Meta.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 3:09 PM on November 1, 2009


This post should probably have more than 63 favorites.
posted by ericost at 9:28 PM on November 3, 2009


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