Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

Image by Rotfuchs at Wikimedia.
In early September, two brothers that host a popular late-night talk show in Norway released a music video to promote their show’s season premiere. Those brothers form the comedic duo called Ylvis, and the song: “What Does the Fox Say?”. A complete surprise to the YlvisÃ¥ker brothers (their last name), who designed their video as a comedic music video flop, their video went viral. It spent three consecutive weeks as number 6 on Billboard Hot 100 and is quickly approaching 300 million views in just over three months!

The premise of the song is that there are a number of animals whose sounds everyone knows, but the fox stumps us. As their lyrics go:

Dog goes woof, cat goes meow.
Bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak.
Cow goes moo. Frog goes croak, and the elephant goes toot.
Ducks say quack and fish go blub, and the seal goes ow ow ow.
But there's one sound that no one knows...

…And then it gets weird as they propose their thoughts on what sounds foxes make:

The funny thing is, it’s not that hard to find out what sounds foxes really make. Although they may not be among the common farm and zoo animals that make it into our children’s toys and books to teach us all about the world of animals, fox vocalizations have been studied by scientists for years. Strangely enough, our comedic duo was not that far off with their “Jacha-chacha-chacha-chow!” guess, which is similar to the fox gekkering call used in aggressive interations.

“The Fox” video (as it has come to be known) has spawned countless spoofs in the last few months. As with most internet spoofs, most are pretty lame, but there are a few gems. My favorite, created by some talented Harvard Medical School students, addresses the equally perplexing question “What Does the Spleen Do?” (Which we also know the answer to. Check out the end of the video for the true answer).


  1. Delightful post. One of my favorite things about watching BBC/British TV is hearing that fox call that sounds like a woman's scream. GREAT for making a scene eerie, & surreal. Suddenly you're in the middle of one of the scarier Sherlock Holmes stories, like the Speckled Band.

    Very fun video. =) It's amazing how variable animal vocalizations are. Animals have SO much more going on that we understand. =)

  2. Like that bit in the movie SONGCATCHER when she hears the bloodcurdling "woman's scream" call of the mountain lion!

    Lovely post.