The fox says 'Let's go viral'

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.

But even as the song continues to grow in popularity, and Ylvis is invited to perform it on American programs like "Late Night" and the "Today" show, it is becoming both a blessing and a burden to its creators — a propitious opportunity and a prank that backfired wildly. How much further, they wonder, can they take something that was never meant to go anywhere in the first place?

"This was the plan all along," the floppy-haired Vegard, 34, shouted to Fallon during a break in filming Wednesday. They were both dressed as foxes, and something in Vegard's voice suggested he meant the opposite.

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