Prisencolinensinainciusol is a hit in any language

Forty years ago this weekend, Italian pop singer Adriano Celentano released a song that became a hit in Italy and across Europe — but it wasn't sung in Italian or English. The words are gibberish meant to mimic the way English sounds to non-speakers, and Celentano didn't even write down the "lyrics" to "Prisencolinensinainciusol," he told NPR's Guy Raz. He just improvised to the beat.

"Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did," Celentano said. "So at a certain point, because I like American slang — which, for a singer, is much easier to sing than Italian — I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn't mean anything."

The video is apparently from 1974.

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