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Eduard Khil, the Russian pop singer who gained international notoriety as the star of the viral video "Trololo," has gone to the big user-generated video-sharing network in the sky after passing away in a St. Petersburg hospital earlier today. Khil, who had suffered a debilitating stroke two months ago, was seventy-seven years old.
Although Khil is best known for belting out the most beloved three syllables of all time in the "Trololo" clip, he was actually a pretty big deal in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and '70s, enjoying non-Internet fame as a pop star for many years. After the Iron Curtain fell, Khil faded into obscurity, enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity when "Trololo" went viral in 2010. He reportedly enjoyed his newfound fame tremendously, telling a reporter: "I love it. People [are] doing parodies, having fun. It unites them."
In the clip, which is from a 1976 Russian television performance, Khil sings the pop tune "I Am So Happy To Finally Be Back Home" without lyrics, instead gleefully yodeling the melody. The original lyrics, which are about an American cowboy returning home to his wife on the prairie, were thought by Soviet censors to be too pro-Western, so Khil and the original composer Arkady Ostrovsky decided to replace the lyrics with the nonsensical syllables "tro-lo-lo," throwing in a "yeh-yeh-yeh" and "ho-ho-ho" for good measure.
While most memes enjoy a brief and fleeting life span, only to be revived months afterward in an e-mail forward from an elderly relative who's just learning to use the Internet, there's something timeless and enduring about "Trololo" that makes Khil's passing particularly poignant. If you're having a bad day, watching Khil's enthusiastic, committed performance will instantly boost your spirits, and I imagine that many of the twelve million people who've watched "Trololo" on YouTube feel the same way. So on behalf of the internet, rest in peace, Mr. Khil. Thanks for tro-lo-lo'ing your way into our hearts.