Listen now on:
Lately heard propelling the soundtrack of an Xbox ad, Italian superstar Adriano Celentano’s early-’70s brass-and-bass-drum extravaganza “Prisencolinensinainciusol” appears to have finally worked its way from YouTube party trick to capitalist teaching aid—a process that, despite taking more than 40 years, is right in line with the song’s sly agenda.
Witness this ’74 production number featuring Celentano as a hobo hottie who swivels his way through high-stepping dancers ruled by a bleach-blonde bella frugging above it all (Celentano’s fellow icon Raffaella Carrà, lip synching the part recorded by Claudia Mori, Celentano’s wife and a star in her own right).
Written as both a celebration and send-up of the American music that Elvis-loving Celentano both adored and disdained, the song’s lyrics are a ruse, almost entirely nonsense composed to sound like English. The production number takes it one further, staging spectacle based on illusion, as long-legged trousers and cunningly placed mirrors heighten and magnify the troupe into a full-on army, advancing lockstep. All of which, in the grooviest way possible, points to a country that’s still getting a handle on a not-so-distant totalitarian past, and that’s wisely hip to its ambivalence toward the heady allure and overwhelming dominance of U.S. superpower pop. Alright.