If you used Tiktok at all in March 2020, there’s a decent chance you heard a song called “Caramelldansen,” a Swedish pop song originally from the early 2000s that once made waves as an internet meme and has since experienced something of a resurgence on the video-sharing platform. As it turns out, the song has a long and complicated history. Now, a YouTuber has tried to shine a light on that history, only to find themselves in conflict with the record company that owns the rights to the song, and has its own narrative about the song’s origins it wants to protect.
On October 25, a YouTuber named jan Misali uploaded a video digging into “Caramelldansen,” originally a Swedish dance-pop song by the group Caramell that exploded into popularity a few years after it was released. Misali’s video was then taken down on December 20 after being hit with multiple copyright strikes from the song’s record label, Remixed Records. Explaining why requires that we take a brief tour of the song’s complicated history ourselves.
In case you weren’t there at the time — and it was a long time ago now — ”Caramelldansen” is the lead single from Caramell’s second and final album Supergott, which was released in November 2001 by Remixed Records. It’s this electronic dance tune, one that’s not too far off from the Europop you might hear in an anime like Initial D. But that’s not the most popular version of the song. In fact, many people familiar with the “Caramelldansen” meme have never even heard it. No, that honour belongs to “Caramelldansen” by the Caramella Girls, an anime trio completely separate from Caramell who today are widely credited as the song’s creators. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
According to Misali, the version of “Caramelldansen” that achieved internet popularity in the mid-2000s was a sped-up nightcore rendition of Caramell’s original which was uploaded to 4chan by someone named DJ Speedycake in 2006. (Speedycake allegedly hit on this version after accidentally remixing the tune at considerably faster than its normal speed.) This version went on to become a massive hit in the mid-to-late aughts. A 4chan user known as Sven from Sweden then paired it with a gif of two dancing anime girls from the adult visual novel Popotan, a combination that went viral and further propelled the song’s inescapable meme status.
In particular, the gif’s dance, swaying hips and flapping hands to the rhythmically thumping beat, is what’s most commonly connected to the memeified song. The dance became so popular that you might’ve seen or used it as an emote in various video games like Destiny 2 and Roblox.
Here’s where things start to get a little more complicated, though.
Speaking to Kotaku over Twitter DMs, Misali said Remixed Records, the label that owns the rights to “Caramelldansen,” released a new version of the song in around 2008, one that sounds exactly like DJ Speedycake’s popular remix rather than Caramell’s slower original, and created an animated music video based on the popular gif to promote it. This became the most popular version of the song yet. The anime trio that appeared in this video was the Caramella Girls, who not only started releasing their own original music in 2010, but also claimed to have written the popular 2006 remix despite not coming together until after its initial release.
This claim, which Misali’s efforts to explore the song’s true history suggest is categorically false, came courtesy of one Giovanni Sconfienza. Sconfienza is one of two Remixed Records owners who, many years after the Caramella Girls’ debut, used the trio to rebrand “Caramelldansen,” retroactively changing who was credited with the song’s creation and effectively trying to erase Caramell and DJ Speedycake from the song’s complex history. Misali believes this was most likely done “so that people would more strongly associate ‘Caramelldansen’ with the Caramella Girls, in an attempt to capitalise on a meme that was over a decade old.”
“In the video I mostly called him ‘Giovanni Caramelldansen,’” Misali said. “Since he’s the owner of Remixed Records, he’s the person responsible for the rebranding that happened in 2019, which I think was an attempt to make people think the Caramella Girls were ‘always there.’ [This] worked because today a lot of people think the Caramella Girls wrote ‘Caramelldansen,’ or at least that they made the meme remix.”
We’ve reached out to Giovanni for comment and will update if we hear back.
So was it Caramell that wrote “Caramelldansen”? Strictly speaking, yes, but, then, we should also credit DJ Speedycake for creating the accidental remix that popularised the song a few years later. When it comes to the song’s origins, the Caramella Girls just aren’t in the picture. It’s evident based on the timeline Misali uncovered that they came into existence after both the original song and its remixed version. But regardless of who created it, the figure now trying to control the narrative around it seems to be Remixed Records’ co-owner Giovanni Sconfienza.
update! the block has been upgraded into a full takedown, and a copyright strike pic.twitter.com/oQYpBIe7LI
— jan Misali (@hbmmaster) December 21, 2021
Unfortunately, Misali’s 45-minute video was taken down due to copyright claims, though reuploads can be found elsewhere. As they put it, the claim that broke the YouTube video’s back was over the use of “Caramelldansen,” and it was Giovanni himself who issued the claim. The two have been in contact, with Giovanni allegedly sending Misali “some vaguely threatening statements, including a direct threat to use YouTube’s copyright system” to have Misali’s entire channel nuked. Misali’s YouTube channel is still standing, but this specific documentary is now gone.
Misali is “actively fighting” the claims and looking to restore the video as soon as possible, but YouTube doesn’t make the process easy, they say. Still, what Misali has uncovered is a corporate power grab by a record label to halfway-erase the original history of the song while rebranding what is publicly available.
“The group that exists today called the ‘Caramella Girls’ can in no way be said to be responsible for either the song or the dance that they’re famous for,” Misali said. “Additionally, in 2019, the nightcore version of ‘Caramelldansen’ was retroactively rebranded to credit the Caramella Girls instead of Caramell. So if you look it up on Spotify or iTunes or whatever, that’s who it says made the song, even though they didn’t.”