How the ‘Coffin Dance’ Meme Traveled From Russia to Ghana to the World – Variety


The coronavirus has spawned hundreds of memes this spring, however maybe none as ubiquitous as the “dancing coffin” crew from Ghana. The six dancing pallbearers seen in the macabre but humorous memes popularized by the pandemic, are soundtracked in almost each video posted by a decade outdated observe from Russian composer and artist Tony Igy (actual identify Anton Igumnov) known as “Astronomia.” Now, immediately, “Astronomia” has change into the most memed digital tune since Darude’s omnipresent (on the web) “Sandstorm.” And like “Sandstorm,” the tune is curiously cartoonish, however rigorously composed — without delay dated, but by some means timeless.

So how did the hook-heavy “Astronomia,” which has a number of variations by a number of artists littering streaming websites similar to YouTube and Spotify (the best-known authorized model exterior of Russia is probably going a 2014 replace/collaboration by Dutch duo Vicetone, pictured beneath, with unique composer Tony Igy, pictured above) come to soundtrack the darkish humor meme? That’s a query virtually as murky as the EDM tune’s origins, however Russian leisure and way of life web site Afisha Every day traces the meme again to February, when a TikTok person uploaded current information footage of the African dancing pallbearers, and paired it with “Astronomia” in a clip of a skier’s epic fail that went viral that month. Extra just lately, everybody from youngsters to police departments throughout the world have been placing the meme to work on-line through movies as a approach to warn others towards violating keep at residence orders.
Igumnov first discovered his outdated FL Studio produced hit was going viral (once more, because it had already gone viral in the previous, at the same time as just lately as final yr on TikTok) in March of this yr, when youngsters began to electronic mail him. “I discovered in March, as African teenagers began to write me in DM that my observe may be very standard of their nation,” he tells Variety from his residence in the Rostov area of the Russian Federation. It wasn’t the first time Igumov acquired a considerably shocking message about the observe in his inbox: “Astronomia” had been utilized in a number of memes in Russia over the years, and it was already an on-again, off-again radio and membership hit in Russia and Ukraine. A lot so, that rapper Iggy Azalea even used the hit as the most important hook for her 2011 providing, “My World.”

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Rutger Prins/YMU Group

However nothing ready Igumnov or Vicetone for simply how huge the newly fashioned juxtaposition of the “dancing coffin” sextet coupled with their tune would get in March, and particularly April, as the meme traveled worldwide and the tune began racking up almost one million streams per day on Spotify, per Vicetone’s supervisor, after doing round 75,000 streams per day prior to the meme taking off on-line. Just a few weeks in the past, “Astronomia” was the second-most Shazmed observe in the world (Stephan F’s 2019 model of “Astronomia” is at present No. 49 on the identical chart, whereas Vicetone’s 2014 model is No. 20 and yet one more model by Tony Igy solo, is at No. 14 on Shazam’s Prime 200 World chart this week). Each Stephan F aka Stefano Folegatti’s model and Vicetone’s model of “Astronomia” are additionally in the Prime 10 on Spotify’s World Viral 50 chart this week.

“We first noticed that ‘Astronomia’ was getting a ton of extra performs out of a sudden [in March],” says Vicetone’s Victor Pool. “It quadrupled its day by day listeners in merely a couple of days.” As of this writing, almost 90 million streams on Spotify have been registered only for their model with Tony Igy.

“We have been glad to see it going viral in any case these years,” provides Ruben Den Boer from Vicetone. “We’ve been taking part in it out for six years now, and we have been positively stunned too, as a result of no one would ever count on this, and you may’t put together for it both… it simply occurs, and we rely our fortunate stars for it.”

For Igumnov, the scale of the resurrection of the observe has additionally stunned him, however he’s not completely stunned by the sturdiness of the electro home anthem he wrote ten years in the past. “The observe has gained nice reputation in Russia [over the years], due to this fact it has been in the rotation of many standard radio stations for a few years,” he explains. “And it’s nonetheless standard right here.”

Certainly, the tune has been kicking round Russia and Europe (and all corners of the web) for years in varied kinds, performed at festivals by DJs similar to Tiesto, and carried out by varied Russian artists similar to Opium Mission (who name their vocal model of the tune “Hiya Moskva”).

However the tune will all the time be Igumnov’s, and he’s humbled by the really sweeping world attain a meme can herald only a matter of weeks on-line. “I’m songwriter so I make music to order,” he says. “I didn’t expertise any feelings,” he provides concerning when he first noticed the meme blowing up. And regardless of the truth the tune’s signature synth line is now close to synonymous with dying, the music producer considers it “only a humorous meme….that’s It.”

However for Vicetone, the observe has re-lit a inventive hearth for the duo, who at present don’t have any publicist on retainer and no tour dates on deck due to coronavirus, but their profile is, sarcastically, rising maybe quicker than it has in years on account of “’Astronomia.”

“Our old-time followers are principally actually glad to see it blow up, however are additionally equally stunned,” says Pool. “Now that it has blown up, there are a whole lot of new followers testing our music, which is nice,” he provides, earlier than noting: “A number of our followers additionally suppose it’s cool that they listened to this observe and cherished it properly earlier than it turned this worldwide meme….and earlier than the meme the tune already had 34 million streams on our YouTube, so it was already doing fairly properly earlier than the meme.”

“We performed it out in a couple of livestreams we did and the response there was unbelievable, so we’re dreaming of the second we will play it out in our reside units once more,” provides Den Boer. “We are able to’t wait to get again on the highway.”


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