A Discussion on Modern Power Dynamics as Seen Through Protest Music
University of Phoenix, Online
In their groundbreaking protest song, “The Fox,” Ylvis invokes the spirit of the American Revolution, rejecting a passive, modern oligarchy and imagining a wholesome, new political environment. The song draws from a large breadth of Western revolutionary ideals inspired by events, including the Whiskey Rebellion of 1789, reflected through lyrical twists and figures that appear in their music video.
With their latest hit song “The Fox,” Ylvis creates a biting commentary about the deficits of modern society. The brothers comment on the rise of an inertly unstable socio-economic system by asking, “What does the fox say?”¹ “The Fox” in question is a reference to Charles James Fox, member of the English Parliament and a radical of the Whig Party. The Whig Party was a bastion of liberalism in parliamentary politics advocating such things as the supremacy of the Parliament over the monarchy and toleration for those who rejected the Church of England. Charles James Fox took this viewpoint even further, blazing the trail for other liberal thinkers. In their music video, Ylvis features an elderly man reading to a small child. This image symbolizes that although the ideals Ylvis champions are old, this music video invigorates them.²
Ylvis answers the question of “What does the fox say?” with a variety of noises. The most important of which are “wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow” symbolizing the might of the oppressed and “a-oo-oo-oo-ooo” representing the rallying cry for the people.³
Ylvis further explores this theme when they refer to the fox as an “angel in disguise” a clear reference to Fox’s advocation of Catholic emancipation and his attempts to destroy slavery.¹¹
Ylvis implies that the modern police state has created an absolute monarchy and that society needs a return to the ideals of the Whig Party as embodied by this pinnacle of liberal thought.
Through their exploration of other animal sounds, such as a fish that goes “blub” and a seal that goes “ow ow ow,” the brothers demonstrate that this viewpoint is in danger of being drowned out by the variety of views in modern politics.²² Ylvis exhibits genius with their use of a horse to symbolize the vast military industrial complex and the fox’s need to communicate with it.³³
Despite all this adversity, Ylvis hold onto the hope that society will be able to turn itself around with honest dialogue across ideological lines. Clearly, this song has inherited the traditions of liberty left behind by figures such as Thomas Paine and James Madison—traditions that Ylvis intends to simultaneously uphold and shake to their very foundations.
¹ Urheim Ylvisåker, Vegard, and Bård Urheim Ylvisåker. Ylvis – “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) [Official Music Video HD].” Ylvis. Stargate, 2013. YouTube. YouTube, 03 Sept. 2013.
² Ibid. 0:58.
³ Username 1062madradio, “Ylvis- The Fox (What does the fox say?) – with lyrics.” 2:19, 0:50.
¹¹ Urheim Ylvisåker. “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?).” 1:32.
²² Ibid. 0:29, 0:32.
³³ Ibid. 1:37.