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Why Is This Forgotten 80s Hit Trending On YouTube?

How a video game cat and an '80’s Croatian one-hit-wonder collided to make one of the most viral memes of 2021.

Sandy Marton Aknha

Sandy Marton, Zone, and Ankha. Three names at the center of the latest viral meme that’s taken on a life of its own and reached umpteen levels of parody.

Maybe you noticed how popular recordings of an ’80s one-hit-wonder have gotten on YouTube this week, and were confused by comments alluding to something awful. Perhaps you’ve seen a lot more Animal Crossing fanart on Twitter. Or maybe (you poor thing) you don’t know where the newest dance on TikTok came from. 

Setting The Stage

Animal Crossing New Horizons Camp
Surely nothing bad could happen in a game that looks like this.

“Camel by Camel” was written and performed by Croatian singer-songwriter Aleksandar “Sandy” Marton, the first name in this story. Original released as a single in 1985, the song first entered TikTok via its 2009 best-of collection on Spotify. Spotify counts plays on TikTok to an artist’s monthly listeners, and different versions of the song now make up four of the top five songs in Marton’s discography. 

So why the popularity? It’s a bit catchy, but probably hasn’t been picked by a DJ at sweet 16s and/or corporate conference afterparties for a few decades now. Rather, there is a video — the video if you will. 

It was made by Zone, our second name. Zone is a pornographic animator that specializes in replicating the style of the cartoons and anime they work with. The original video was first shared on Twitter on January 28th of this year and was reuploaded to age-restricted sites as “Ankha by Ankha.”

Ankha, the third and final name to remember, is an NPC in Nintendo’s family-friendly Animal Crossing series. Known variously as Ankha in English (a possible allusion to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph “ankh,” meaning “life”), Kleo in German (as in Cleopatra), and Nile in Japanese (like the river), the yellow and blue cat is adorned in antiquated makeup and lives in houses with Egyptian funerary furniture.

The Video

Set to “Camel by Camel,” the video depicts Ankha having sex with a player character in Animal Crossing. Zone emphasizes her “snooty personality” (as the games calls it), which has since been translated into an indifferent, femdom persona with ensuing derivations of the scene.

animal crossing’s
Ankha’s amiibo card

Videos of the original animation, spoofs that claim to be the original, and other iterations of the meme have seen millions of views on adult websites and other social media platforms. The song has been riffed on, cosplay and fan art of the character has exploded across social platforms, and Ankha’s movement (seen in censored or cropped versions of the video) have been made into something of a dance trend.

While explicit content has been taken down, much of the material that remains does go against the spirit of TikTok’s prohibition on explicit content. The #ankhazone hashtag has over 19.6 million views on TikTok today, and while that’s only 2 million more than it had this time last week, artists are catching up now, posting their own lewd and explicit fanart on Twitter and Instagram. Zone’s own Twitter account has taken to sharing much of the new work. 

In a comment to Insider, the explicit artist (speaking only under their pseudonym) said, “New people discovering my work has always been pretty much the same and responses to it always vary from utter disgust to adoration and praise.”

If you haven’t seen any of these memes (parody or meme) yet, have no fear — they’re very easily searchable. But if you do, just, well, know what you’re getting into.

About the author

Autumn Wright

Autumn Wright is an anime journalist, which is a real job. As a writer at We Got This Covered, they cover the biggest new seasonal releases, interview voice actors, and investigate labor practices in the global industry. Autumn can be found biking to queer punk through Brooklyn, and you can read more of their words in Polygon, WIRED, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.