What Happened to Ylvis? The "What Does the Fox Say" Singers Scared Fans With Funeral Video

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jan. 31 2024, Updated 3:12 p.m. ET

Ylvis member Bård Ylvisåker performing 'What Does the Fox Say'.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist

  • Rumors circulated online in November 2023 that Bård Ylvisåker from the duo Ylvis — of "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" viral fame — passed away.
  • Folks who saw a VGTV televised "funeral" for the singer, which shows him laying down in a casket, led many to believe he was dead.
  • Singer Maria Mena led a choir in a slowed-down and sad performance of the viral hit track.
  • Bård is not dead, however, and the video was just indeed a staged performance.
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The phenomenon of viral one-hit wonders from artists who seemingly come out of nowhere and gain massive popularity on the internet are an interesting phenomenon: for a few weeks (or months, even), these tracks are seemingly everywhere. About a year or two later, playing the track at a party seems like an insult, until the appropriate "throwback" threshold has been reached.

Ylvis (a comedy duo composed of brothers Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker) is one such artist, but fans became worried in November 2023 that Bård may've passed away. But what really happened? And what has Ylvis been up to in the years since their hit 2013 track?

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Video screengrab of VGTV's Ylvis funeral performance of "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) led by Maria Mena.
Source: YouTube/@Morten Ramm

What happened to Ylvis?

Reports that the "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" singer died began circulating the web in November 2023 after the Norwegian network VGTV aired footage of a funeral for Bård where he was prominently featured laying in a coffin to pews filled with attendees dressed in black.

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To the right of his body, a full choir of singers, led by Maria Mena, begins to perform for the guests. The track is a haunting and soulful rendition of the whimsical track, but sung with the same serious earnestness that Michael Caine exhibited in his role as Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

And while neither Mena or any of the other singers ever once cracks a smile throughout the performance, the same can't be said for the folks who were in attendance for the artist's funeral.

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Which probably means one of the following:

  • (A) A few people at the funeral were happy to see the singer dead
  • (B) A testament to how much of a bop "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) is
  • (C) Norwegians either have strange funeral customs or a sick sense of humor
  • (D) The funeral was staged, Bård is still alive, and the video was a bit of dark humor in action

Of course one could add to the final aforementioned multiple choice selection that Ylvis could be making a wider statement on the life cycle of viral one-hit wonder tracks in general.

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Bård is indeed still among the living; after the performance, he even stood up, exited the coffin, and conducted an interview afterward.

While it's difficult to imagine that anyone would see the video with so many of the laughing folks watching and recording the performance think that Bård legitimately died, there are some images that could've been lifted from the video that would lead folks to think he actually passed away.

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And it wouldn't be just pictures of him in his coffin that could convince folks he died; Marina Mena shared some photos in a multi-picture Instagram upload that shows just how far the video production went to replicate the look and feel of a legitimate funeral.

In her post, she features a snapshot of a memoriam pamphlet showing Bård's face along with his birth and fake death year and in another photo she's holding up the same exact image on a funeral portrait style painting.

Again, however, the jovial nature of the other pictures in the post don't exactly scream "rest in peace."

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What is Ylvis doing now?

After their 2013 mega-hit, the brothers continued to put out music, releasing their first album in 2014. They also continued to appear on Norwegian TV (where they first grew to fame) and even released a documentary series in 2018 that took stories from Norwegian news and turned them into musicals. And in 2022, they began making content for VGTV.

The guys also post a slew of funny social media posts, interspersed with clips of musical performances, and even some extended love for the track that was a global phenomenon. A great example would be the somber instrumental version of "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" set to this brilliant clip of a lost McDonald's cheeseburger's globe-trotting journey back home to their McFamily.

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So while yes, viral songs, just like many popular songs, can certainly become annoying after a while, Ylvis seems to be demonstrating a certain amount of gratitude for what they're most known for while also displaying a stalwart ability to stick to a bit.

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