The members of Estonian rock band Winny Puhh bear (ahem) little resemblance to the red-shirted, honey-loving cartoon character, but they’ve managed to win over Internet audiences with a 2013 Eurovision-qualifying performance regardless.
On paper, Meiecundimees uks Korsakov laks eile Latti (Our Homeboy Went to Latvia Yesterday) seems like a simple folk song about an unlucky lad named Korsakov. He carries three tons (of what, they don’t say) to Latvia and breaks his back. He gets into a fight and breaks his nose. He gazes too long at the stars and breaks his neck. He even manages to stab himself in the eye with his thumb, which he then breaks. Life isn’t easy for a tough guy, as the last line of the song concludes.
It’s the seizure-inducing music video, however, which features upside-down drummers spinning on the ceiling and a Chewbacca-headed man in wrestling leotards that has turned the Estonian band into an Internet sensation – and not just in Estonia.
Although the official music video hasn’t been nearly as popular, lead singer Indrek Vaheoja said it is supposed to show how Korsakov “became a healer and is now helping common people.” As he told escXtra.com, “our song also has healing power if listened to very loudly at least 10 times a day.
Vaheoja, who formed the band with high school friends in 1994, said the song is full of surprises and hidden meanings. One surprise may be that it is actually an homage to the band’s namesake, as the tune mimics Winnie the Pooh’s song in this classic Russian cartoon from 1969 (at about one minute in).
Some Estonians criticized the song’s garbled words and droning vocals, leaving comments such as “don’t embarrass Estonia” and “this song is more an act of terrorism or war against Europe than a piece of art” on social media sites, the Ohtuleht daily newspaper reports. Considering that Winny Puhh’s performance at Eesti Laul, the local competition to determine who represents the nation at Eurovision, crossed the million-view mark on YouTube in early April, it’s clear who’s having the last laugh.
The Baltic nation ultimately picked Estonian Idol winner Birgit Oigemeel to represent them at the Eurovision contest in Malmo next month – but don’t discount Winny Puhh’s shtick from any future contests just yet. Remember last year’s Russian babushkas with their bread-baking bit or Lordi, the 2006 Finnish entry that eventually took home the grand prize?
In the meantime, crank up the volume and let the healing begin.
Nirvana Bhatia, former Fulbright scholar in Latvia, studies minority rights.