Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol

There’s a long tradition of songs that “sound” like another language without actually meaning anything. In Italy, for example, beginning in the 1950s, American songs, films, and jingles inspired a diverse range of “American sounding” cultural products.

The most famous is probably “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” a 1972 song composed by legendary Italian entertainer Adriano Celentano and performed by him and his wife, Claudia Mori. The song’s lyrics sound phonetically like American English—or at least what many Italians hear when an American speaks—but are clearly total, utter, delightful nonsense. You really have to hear it to appreciate it.

“Prisencolinensinainciusol” fell under the radar upon release, but in 1973—once Celentano performed it on Italian public broadcaster RAI—the song topped charts in Italy, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

It was rediscovered across the pond in the YouTube age, when in 2010 boingboing’s Cory Doctorow described a video of the song as “one of the most bizzare videos found on the internet,” and the 72-year-old Celentano was interviewed for an episode of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did,” Celentano said.