The 1970s was a golden age for American music. Listeners and performers all over the world were influenced by the styles of American artists—despite the language barriers. Among the fans of English-speaking performers was the Italian singer Adriano Celentano. He composed a peppy song entitled Prisencolinensinainciusol to sound like contemporary American soft rock in the English language. The song was released in 1972, and within several years it had become a number one hit in Europe and several other European countries. The catch: the song is almost entirely gibberish, a linguistic trick which may even fool the ears of native speakers.
Prisencolinensinainciusol was released as a single to Italian audiences with little initial fanfare. Featuring the vocals of Celentano and his wife Claudi Mori, the catchy tune did not become a hit until a live performance on Italian television reached a wider audience. To many Italians, the American-accented song sounded just like English. However, the lyrics are actually gibberish phonetically tuned to sound like American speech. According to Celentano, he made most of the “words” up on the spot while recording. The only real words which appear in the lyrics are “all right,” which appears in the refrain. Those fluent in the English language may find this song disorienting as your brain desperately searches for meaning in the madness.
Speaking to NPR in 2012, Celentano spoke of his classic—yet confusing—hit. The intention was to encourage communication across language barriers. “So at a certain point, The singer explained, “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.”
Now, nearly 50 years since its initial release, Prisencolinensinainciusol has had a resurgence of sorts. The fun, energetic, and colorful footage of Celentano's performance of the nonsensical tune has found a new global audience to delight. A whole new generation has been listening to the upbeat song and sharing it far and wide across the Internet.
Scroll down to check out the kooky 1970s music video, full of bell-bottoms, disco moves, and nonsensical yet catchy lyrics. Prisencolinensinainciusol is a true blast from the past.