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Loituma

The "Loituma Girl" Orihime Inoue twirling her leek is the background of the Flash animation.

Loituma Girl (also known as 'Leekspin') is a Flash animation set to a scat singing section of the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka," sung by the Finnish quartet Loituma on their 1996 debut album Things of Beauty.[1] It appeared on the Internet in late April 2006 and quickly became popular.[2] The animation consists of five frames showing the Bleach anime character Orihime Inoue twirling a leek, set to a 27-second loop from the song.

Content

The animation of Loituma Girl is taken from episode two of the Bleach anime series, between the twelfth and fourteenth minute, depending on the version. In the clip, Orihime is twirling a spring onion counter-clockwise while talking to Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki. The scene is an instance of a recurring joke surrounding her character, in which she wants to cook something so unusual that it seems almost inedible.

The music used consists of the second half of the fifth stanza (four lines) and the complete sixth stanza (eight lines) from the song. Unlike the rest of the song, these two stanzas have no meaning, consisting mostly of phonetically-inspired Finnish words that vary from performance to performance and are usually made up on the spot by the singer (compare scat singing in jazz). These stanzas are therefore not generally listed on lyrics pages, causing confusion for people looking for lyrics that match the animation.(See Ievan Polkka.) There has been some confusion concerning the exact nature of the vegetable in the animation. In the Japanese version of the anime, it is identified as a Welsh onion, but the American dub identifies it as a leek, from which the name of the animation is derived. This confusion may be because Wales identifies the leek as a national symbol. However, the two are not linked.[citation needed]

Popularity

On 10 July 2006, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Loituma Girl had caused a resurgence in Loituma's popularity, and the band had received thousands of fan letters from around the world.[3]

Band member Timo Väänänen describes his initial reaction to the video:[2]

I first found out there was something going on when I looked at the statistics of my own web page and then I realized that something weird is happening because there is such a huge traffic there. And most of the traffic came from Russia and then I started to track down what is happening and then I found this video. And well, I have no idea what this video is about, and what this girl is about.

PRI's The World radio program even covered the animation in a segment, in which they noted the clip's trance-inducing qualities. Patrick Macias, who was interviewed in the program, described the animation:[2]

This is basically a joke for someone who spends all of their time staring at a computer, made by people who spend all of their time staring at a computer. It's possible to read deeper meanings into it, but it sort of defeats the purpose because in the end it's just this hypnotic clip of animation.

As with most Internet memes, there are numerous videos, remixes, and parodies that have been inspired by the Flash animation.[citation needed] These may feature the animated background, the song clip, or otherwise reference the style of the animation.

Commercialization

In August 2006, German ringtone provider Jamba! began selling a collection of media based on the animation. The video shows an anthropomorphic donkey (called Holly Dolly) dancing to the animation which is displayed (flipped horizontally) in the background.[4] The song/animation is marketed as the "Dolly Song", and the music is played faster than the original Loituma version. It was also given an extra 30-second drum preface, which was not present in the original version.

In January 2007, a similar video, entitled "Holly Dolly - Dolly Song (Ieva's Polka)", appeared in the Google Video Top 100, though it was present on the Internet for a while before. It features the same donkey, along with some dancing sheep and a snowman, but the leek-spinning girl in the background is only there briefly.[5] In April 2007, a Dutch power company (Eneco) used the song/melody of Loituma Girl in its TV commercial for "ecostroom" (green energy).[6]

In May 2007, Wrigley's used this song in their German TV spot for their Extra gum.[7] The Dutch company Artiq Mobile launched a website where people can upload home-made Loituma girl spoof videos. TV commercials state the best video will win 500 euros.[8] The Romanian company Romtelecom uses the song in one of their commercials for Dolce, a satellite television service.[citation needed]

In October 2007, McDonald's Hungary used this song in their Hungarian TV spot for their McCafé commercial.[9]

In early 2009, Ready Brek (UK) used the melody of Ievan's Polkka in a remade a-capella version for their cereal advertisement.

Many YouTubers animate their own versions of Leekspin with different characters and spinning objects.

In Phineas and Ferb: Summer Belongs To You!, during the song J-Pop (Welcome To Tokyo), Isabella parodies the Loituma Girl by spinning a leek during the song.

Vocaloid adaption

In September 2007 Yamaha's Vocaloid voice synthesizer was given a makeover with the Character Vocal Series, featuring an anime-style character named Hatsune Miku as the mascot for the software. One of the initial promotional videos set the already popular Loituma Girl song to an animation of a chibi version of Miku Hatsune waving a Welsh onion, using Vocaloid software for the voice.[10] To date, this video has over nine million views on Nico Nico Douga and YouTube combined.[11][12]

The popularity of the Vocaloid version of "Ievan Polkka" has led to the chibi-Miku featured in the video being treated as a separate character, Hachune Miku, who has even had a Nendoroid action figure produced in her image by Good Smile Company.

See also

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References

External links

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