Tunak Tunak Tun

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"Tunak Tunak Tun"
A man in a red turban, yellow vest, and sporting a distinct moustache and beard holds his arms outwards while smiling in front of a colorful-pattern background. The words "Daler Mehndi" appear above his head, and the words "Tunak Tunak Tun" are just below his extended arms.
Song by Daler Mehndi
from the album Tunak Tunak Tun
Released1998
GenreBhangra music, Indi-pop
Length5:03
LabelMagnasound Records
Songwriter(s)Daler Mehndi
Music video
"Tunak Tunak Tun" on YouTube

"Tunak Tunak Tun" or simply "Tunak", is a Bhangra/Indi-pop song by Indian Punjabi artist Daler Mehndi, released in 1998. It was the first Indian music video made using chroma key technology.[1]

The song and the video were a success in India, cementing Mehndi's status as India's biggest and most popular popstar at the time.[2] It later gained international success,[2] especially after it became an internet meme in the 2000s.[3][4]

Background[edit]

The "Tunak Tunak Tun" lyrics are a reference to the sounds made by a tumbi (also called tumba), a traditional musical instrument from the Punjab region in the northern Indian subcontinent.[5] The lyrics also refer to the ektara or tuntuna.

Mehndi's music was often criticized for only being popular due to his videos which featured beautiful, dancing women.[1][non-primary source needed] The singer responded by creating a video that featured only himself. The music video was the first made in India using Bluescreen technology,[1] which allowed the singer to superimpose his image over various computer-generated backgrounds including desert and mountain landscapes as well as the St. Basil's Cathedral.

The music video was produced on an unprecedented budget of 25 million[6] ($610,000),[7] equivalent to ₹91 million ($1.29 million) adjusted for inflation.

Music video[edit]

The music video follows a simple plot about four men, all played by Mehndi, who represent the four classical elements and dress in lavish Indian clothing. The earth Mehndi wears red/maroon, the fire Mehndi wears orange, the wind Mehndi wears brown, and the water Mehndi wears green. The men start off as comets made of water, dirt, air, and fire before transforming into clothed humans. Each of them take turns singing, dancing and pointing at each other as though they are discussing something. The men later fuse by first reverting to their comet states and then merging to form a seemingly more powerful being, who is predominantly clad in garb of gold and emerald.

As of February 19, 2021, the music video has received over 169 million views on the Sony Music India channel at YouTube.[8]

Reception[edit]

The song and the music video received a negative review from Rashtriya Sahara magazine in 1998.[9] Despite this, the song became an incredible commercial success in 1998, becoming the biggest Indi-pop hit at the time.[2]

International popular culture[edit]

By 1999, the song found an international cult following, particularly among the South Asian diaspora in countries such as the United Kingdom and United States, as well as in Far-Eastern markets such as Japan.[2] In China, it attained popularity for its lyrics, which sound like nonsensical words, gaining the song the Chinese name, "我在东北玩泥巴" ("I'm playing clay in Northeastern China").[10]

In the 2000s, "Tunak Tunak Tun" found greater international popularity on the internet as a viral video. In response, the video game company Blizzard Entertainment incorporated the "Tunak Tunak Tun" dance as a character animation in their multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft in 2007.[11] This dance is also included as an easter egg in the video game Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Spearhead.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1998-2016) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[13] 28
India Hit Singles 1
Billboard World Digital Songs Sales Chart 22

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Tunak Tunak Tun". dalermehndi.com. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d "Bhangra Beat Transforms Indipop Scene". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 111 (39): 101. 25 September 1999.
  3. ^ Rizwan, Sahil (5 December 2016). "How Daler Mehndi's "Tunak Tunak Tun" Became A Global Viral Phenomenon". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 26 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ AnjaliGera, Roy (2016). Bhangra Moves: From Ludhiana to London and Beyond. New York: Routledge. p. 91. ISBN 9781351574006. Retrieved 26 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Coffee Run!!! ft. Daler Mehndi! (4 minutes)". YouTube. deadmau5. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Better luck next time: Daler Mehndi". Rashtriya Sahara. Sahara India Mass Communication. 6 (7–12): 147. 1998. With sum of Rs 2.5 Crores Daler was supposed to make Music Video.
  7. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1997. Retrieved 5 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Daler Mehndi - Tunak Tunak Tun Video on YouTube
  9. ^ "Better luck next time: Daler Mehndi". Rashtriya Sahara. Sahara India Mass Communication. 6 (7–12): 147. 1998.
  10. ^ "我在东北玩泥巴".
  11. ^ "Daler Mehndi Tunaks his way into World of Warcraft". asiancorrespondent.com/. 18 March 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault: Spearhead Easter Egg - Make the Player Models Dance". The Easter Egg Archive. Retrieved 27 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be - Daler Mehndi - Tunak Tunak Tun". Ultratop. Retrieved 3 July 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)