Studio 6A, the Rockefeller Plaza home of NBC's “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” was filled with artificial smoke and laser lights when Bard and Vegard Ylvisaker arrived. These Norwegian brothers, who had spent the previous days traveling from Oslo, Norway, to London to New York, did not seem to be particularly fazed as they surveyed their surroundings, which included a squad of dancers in fox masks and makeup, two long rows of full-length mirrors and a man dressed in a head-to-toe horse costume.
“It's absurd,” said Bard, who is 31, with a deadpan demeanor and long blond hair. “But after a while, it starts to feel like work.”
This has become the routine for the Ylvisaker brothers, known collectively as Ylvis, for the past month, ever since they became unlikely pop music sensations with a willfully silly if undeniably catchy song called “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?).”
Over a thumping electronic beat, “The Fox” asks in pleadingly sincere tones why, if there are distinctive sounds associated with the many other animals in creation, is there not one for the fox? (As the lyrics put it: “Ducks say quack, and fish go blub and the seal goes ow ow ow ... What does the fox say?”)
This week, “The Fox” reached No. 6 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, surpassing hits like Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines” and Lady Gaga's “Applause.” An equally mystifying video that features the photogenic Ylvisakers and other performers in a variety of animal outfits, evoking “I Am the Walrus,” if it had been directed by Lars von Trier, has been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube.