“YouTube account buffalax has been terminated… for copyright infringements” was the message many YouTube viewers received on Mar 28 as they attempted to view the channel of a popular YouTuber known as ‘Buffalax‘.
The question is, who is this Buffalax? What impact did he create on the Internet?
A new name for ‘Soramimi’ – ‘Buffalax’
Imagine this: Your Facebook friend posts a video link. You click it and see Telugu singer Chiranjeevi dressed in Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket. The dialogue’s in Telugu, but subtitles are provided. However, on closer inspection, these subtitles aren’t a translation from Telugu to English.
Instead, each word sounds exactly like how Chiru is singing, with a twist of incoherent humour.
“OOOO! You’ll be pumping Ovaltine!”
This particular line that came from the misheard transliteration of a clip from the 1985 movie Donga is enough to draw laughs even from the most serious agelast.
It’s one of the most popular examples of a Buffalax.
The Japanese dub this as soramimi (空耳), referring to the homophonic translation of song lyrics or dialogue from one language into another. The earliest videos are believed to have originated from popular video-maker Neil Cecierega, known as Lemon Demon, in 2001,who made misheard translations of Japanese songs like Hyakugojyuuichi!
Mike Sutton, master of Buffalaxes
In 2008, The UrbanWire first ran a story on Sutton’s work, introducing its readers to the term Buffalax.
It was coined by a factory worker named Michael Sutton from Ohio, in the United States, who enjoyed massive popularity, going by the moniker of Buffalax in 2006.
Then 22 years old, his uploading of the aforementioned video Indian Thriller with English subtitles earned him instant fame, with its view count skyrocketing into 1.7 million within a year – a commendable feat during the early years of YouTube.
His success with Indian Thriller overshadowed the accomplishment of his first work – a Buffalaxed version of Moskau by German band Dschingis Khan. Silly-sounding phrases like ‘Enter the hymen store’ and ‘Don’t you think I’m cool in tights?‘ were popularised by the video, which gained 1.3 million hits within a year.
This spawned subsequent hits like ‘Crazy Indian video… subtitled!’, which netizens came to know as ‘Benny Lava’, as well as a Buffalaxed version of Punjabi singer Daler Mhendi’s hit, ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’.
So it came as a rude shock when Buffalax was suspended from YouTube on Mar 28. As Sutton himself lamented on micro-blogging site Twitter, “My youtube account just got killed… copyright bs (bulls***)…”
A few fans echoed Sutton’s discontent, with regards to his suspension.
Nick Reuter from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, called the suspension “Ridiculous” and said that the videos were “the source of much party humour”.
We second that, Nick.
Where else to get your laughs?
Thankfully, some of Sutton’s work lives on in the form of duplicate videos on YouTube.
But Sutton is not the only popular creator of misheard lyric videos.
Disclaimer: The videos featured below may contain strong language and/or sexual references. They neither do, nor are intended to, reflect the views of the writer.
Canadian YouTuber woodbulb became a notable figure when he garnered 6 million views after putting up the ‘Indian Nipple Song’, a misheard version of Dilbar Dilbar by Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen.
American software engineer Ben174followed the footsteps of woodbulb, by uploading another video of hers, this time, of her song Meheboob Mere, transliterated as ‘May He Poop On My Knee?’. As of March 2011, the video has enjoyed over 6.9 million hits.
In 2009, when the Korean wave was soaring to a whole new level of popularity, Florida YouTuber jeaok released a Buffalaxed version of Girls’ Generation’s hit single, “Gee”. After garnering more than a million hits within a year, jeaok went on to Buffalax other Korean pop songs, like SS501’s “Love Like This”, Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” and “Wedding Dress” by Taeyang of Big Bang.
Those who followed in the footsteps of Sutton have a great level of admiration for the man who popularised the trend. Jeaok, stated that he thoroughly enjoyed the Buffalaxed versions of Moskau and Benny Lava, referring to them as ‘hilarious’.
Will Buffalax return?
As of press time, Sutton himself hasn’t given any indication as to whether he’ll continue making Buffalaxes under a new YouTube channel. His latest tweet read “I am trying to figure out how I want to handle my account being terminated…” However, one thing’s for sure – the tradition of Buffalaxing willlive on, even with the original channel gone.