He's Edward Hill, or Edward Anatolyevich Hill, or Eudard 'Khil, and he's pretty much crawled up into everyone's beans and is going to lay there a while, so, here's the mystery revealed:
- Read and See: Russian Rickroll at Know Your Meme: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/edward-hill-russian-rickroll
- Read: Eduard Khil at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Hil. He's still alive; age 75 as of this writing. Still RFSFR "People's Artist": looks very turned-out with this ribbon on.
- Read: For a deeper consideration and appreciation: http://www.jehsmith.com/1/2010/02/edward-anatolevich-hill.html.
- Visit – if You Dare: http://trololololololololololo.com/, a single-serving website, like BadgerBadgerBadger was – just Edward Hill, over, and over, and over.
Hill's version seems nothing if not perverse, but what a bit of contextualization helps us to see is that this is not at all the result of his own innate weirdness, or of the innate absurdity of the song he has undertaken to sing.
About 90% of the recent commentary on Hill's performance maintains that it is so bad it's good, while the remaining 10% maintains that it is, simply, good. To my mind, if there is a stroke of brilliance in this performance, it is the genial wave Hill gives to the audience as he exits whence he came. He bids farewell as if we have just experienced something genuine together. But what could that have been? He hasn't even said anything. I thought here of Tolstoy's cranky reaction to the Moscow debut of Wagner's Ring Cycle, in his incredible work, What Is Art? Echoing a concern about what it is that art is supposed to do, raised already by Pascal (who encourages readers of poetry to imagine a state of affairs in which a person actually has the properties a poet attributes to them, e.g., a girl who actually has cherries instead of lips), Tolstoy wants to know why those people on the stage are singing instead of talking if what art is meant to do is to capture something real about human experience, and why, once we reduce their sung words to their mere content, we should be at all interested in what they have to say (mostly childish fantasy stuff about forest spirits and valkyries).
Hill hasn't said anything, yet he bids farewell as if he has. What bit of reality is this meant to reproduce? What kind of perversion of that original reality does it involve? It's hard to react like Pascal or Tolstoy, since the art hasn't told us anything about the reality that's been transfigured. One can only say, in the manner of a YouTube commenter, WTF. Magomaev never invites you to say this. His interpretation makes perfect sense: he is a man in a night club enjoying himself, so much so that he feels inspired to use his very voice as a musical instrument. Hill is doing something altogether different.
The first takeaway was of the almost surreal, somewhat spooky oddity of it all. I'm repeatedly listening to Roxy Music's Avalon to wash the edginess of it away, and to a degree, it's working. I'm not necessarily arrogant about the art I'm familiar with being somewhat better, but it is familiar, and therefore relatable to.
Well, this is how one stretches one's enevelope, yes.
Still it leaves me with the "uh-oh" feeling a little. And since you're going to be directed, Rickrollingly, to this clip at one time or another, well … forewarned is forearmed.
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