The Japanese comedian behind the viral hit “PPAP” is astonished by the global success of his “pen-pineapple-apple-pen” song.
Dressed in his trademark yellow outfit with snake and leopard patterns, Pikotaro debuted a two-minute “long” version of his 45-second song before taking questions at a Tokyo news conference Friday.
His responses had the packed audience of journalists and others laughing, but it was often difficult to separate fact from fiction.
He expressed amazement that a song that he said cost 100,000 yen ($1,000) to produce in a six-hour session in a rented studio could explode worldwide.
“The internet is amazing!” he said.
In the song, Pikotaro, as the 53-year-old character who performs it is known, mimics stabbing a pen into an apple and a pineapple while singing simple English lyrics and dancing to a catchy beat.
The performer, whose real name is Kazuhito Kosaka according to Japanese entertainment news media, was little known before “PPAP” took off in September.
The song initially was popular among Japanese students, then started spreading globally and got a major boost when pop star Justin Bieber tweeted it was his favorite video, Pikotaro said.
“PPAP” has more than 65 million YouTube views and was the first Japanese song to get into the U.S. Billboard top 100 singles in 26 years. Guinness World Records recognized it Friday as the shortest song to make the top 100.
It has also spawned 40,000 lip-synching copies uploaded to the internet.
Pikotaro said it feels great to be imitated, and that those from India are his favorite so far. He discouraged imitators from using real fruit, though, deeming it wasteful.
“There’s actually a theme when I’m singing,” he said, ticking off world peace and love of family and friends. “And then, to prove the existence of dark matter,” he added, to laughs. “I feel all these themes are well understood by the people who imitate me.”
He said he came up with the song at the house of his producer, Daimao Kosaka, which is actually his stage name as a comedian.
With the tune playing, he picked up a pen to begin writing, and thought about Kosaka, who comes from apple country. An open can of pineapples was sitting on the table, and “pen-pineapple-apple-pen” was born.
Asked whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called him since his success, he responded that he doesn’t answer numbers he does not recognize on his phone, but would check his messages later to see.
He also teased the topic of his next release: “The hint is, citrus fruits.”