The unfortunate news came in on June 4, 2012. The 77-year old Russian singing sensation and internet meme, Eduard Khil, died due to a stroke that had left him in a coma about a month before. As a general rule, I don’t regard the deaths of famous people as more grieve-worthy than the death of anybody else, but Eduard Khil was a notable exception to that rule.
Now, unless you grew up in the Soviet Union, you probably hadn’t heard of Eduard Khil before 2009, when a video from 1976 of him poorly lip-synching to a non-vocal song of his surfaced on the Internet. Within a year, the video, referred to as “Trololo” by YouTubers, became popular for Khil’s quirky (and often ridiculous) movements and facial expressions. In 2010, Khil became aware of his Internet fame and took to it cheerfully, encouraging the people of the world to unite through the Internet to share their interpretations of the song and craft lyrics for it. Indeed, he seemed to love everything about his song being an Internet meme, laughing along with parodies and performing the song to fans online in order to share his cheer and good spirits.
Now, I was a fan of “Trololo” for a while before I had seen footage of Eduard Khil in 2010; the song was lighthearted, funny, and very exploitable for even more humorous parodies, but Khil’s recent videos put a human face to the man who, until then, was just a relic from 1976. His goodwill made “Trololo” more than just a YouTube video, and even though almost nobody who has seen the video personally knew him, the Internet will miss Eduard Khil, the man who wrote the national anthem of all Internet trolls.