Ievan Polkka: History
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Subjects: Cultural Studies

"Ievan Polkka" or "Ievan Polokka" (Savo Finnish for "Eva's Polka") is a popular Finland song with lyrics written in the early 1930s by Eino Kettunen to a traditional Finnish polka tune. The name is commonly misspelled Levan Polkka, due to the similarity of lowercase L and the uppercase vowel I (i) in sans-serif fonts. It is also known as "Loituma's Polka" (or "Loituma's Polkka").

  • polkka
  • polka
  • finland

1. Origin

The melody of "Ievan Polkka" is very similar to that of Savitaipaleen polkka, and in South Karelia the Ievan Polkka is also known as "Savitaipaleen polkka". The melody is also similar to a folk dance from the area of Smolensk in Western Russia , known as Smolenskij gusačok ("смоленский гусачок"/"Small Gander of Smolensk").

The melody can be traced back to the Viipuri Province in the 17th century when the border with the Kingdom of Sweden ran west of the province. The number of Russian soldiers stationed in the border area outnumbered the locals for many decades. At the beginning of the 19th century collectors of Finnish folk dances and folk songs all mention that the dances in the area of Luumäki-Savitaipale were Estonian dances only and didn't write them down. Locals who are well-versed in folk music agree the melody is very old and likely to have been known back in the early 19th century and therefore probably of even older origin. However, the polka genre is of much later date. Polka was introduced in northern Europe during the late 19th century, which implies that the actual tune as it is known today originates from this era.[1]

1.1. Language

The song is sung in very heavy Eastern Savonian dialects spoken in North Karelia, to the point where it may not be understandable to some Finnish people.

2. Description

The song takes the point of view of a young man and Ieva/Eva/Eeva in Finnish, who sneaks away to where everyone is dancing to a polka, and dances all night.

3. Popularity

Owing to its viral exposure in popular culture, Ievan Polkka has become one of the most famous Finnish songs in the world.

Very popular after World War II, the song was almost forgotten during the late 1970s and 1980s. The song resurfaced after an a cappella performance by the Finland quartet Loituma, which was first released on their debut album, Loituma, in 1995. The album was released in the United States as Things of Beauty in 1998.

The "Loituma Girl" Orihime Inoue twirling her leek in the Flash animation.

The a cappella version of the song acquired greater international popularity as part of an Internet phenomenon in the spring of 2006 when the Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin), a looped Flash animation of an anime girl Orihime Inoue from the Bleach series twirling a leek, set to a scat singing section of Ievan Polkka sung by Loituma[2] was posted in Russian LiveJournal. For the animation, only the second half of the fifth stanza (four lines) and the complete sixth stanza (eight lines) are used. It instantly became a global hit and the song soon enjoyed overwhelming popularity as a ringtone.[3] Since then the song has been circulating and known under several misspelled variations of its original name or references to the animation, including "Ievas Polkka", "Levan Polkka" and "Leekspin Song". After the animation was posted, Ievan Polkka become widely known worldwide, with a significant rise of interest and recognition demonstrated by the search terms popularity.[4]

The Finnish folk song was also given popular covers by several Japanese Vocaloid singers, such as Megurine Luka, Kagamine Rin, and Kagamine Len. The most popular vocaloid cover belonged to that of Hatsune Miku, garnering more than 40 million views on her official YouTube music video as of December 2017.[5] Its popularity has lent itself to being used in the Vocaloid rhythm game Hatsune Miku as the tutorial music.[6] It has also been used in a commercial promoting the LG G5 smartphone.[7]

In 2012, folk metal band Korpiklaani recorded a cover on the album Manala.

Furthermore, mobile ringtones based on various mixes of "Ievan Polkka" gained a wide popularity among Russia n and Commonwealth of Independent States mobile subscribers in late 2006. The tune is also the theme song to the Internet sitcom Break a Leg; it was remixed by DJ Basshunter of Sweden, DJ Sharpnel of Japan, and Beatnick of Poland; and a version of the song performed by Anne Kulonen was part of a Ready Brek television advert aired in the United Kingdom .[8] Also, some videos show a Farfetch'd spinning a leek.[9]

In 2016, Erika Ikuta, a member of Japanese idol group, Nogizaka46, sang Ievan Polkka as a part of her private segment on a web TV Show titled "Nogizaka46 4th Anniversary Nogizaka 46 Hour TV". This song then became well known among Nogizaka46's fans. She later sang it on several occasions such as "JUNK Bananaman no Bananamoon GOLD" radio show, "Nogizaka Under Construction" TV show which aired on TV Aichi & "Banana Zero Music" music program which aired on NHK.

4. Performers

  • Matti Jurva [1] (1937)
  • Onni Laihanen (1947) [2]
  • Jorma Ikävalko (1950) [3]
  • Tukkilais Orchestra (1952) [4]
  • Nummi Kvartetti (1953)
  • Arttu Suuntala (1966)
  • Jaakko Salo (1972)
  • Pauli Räsänen (1972)
  • Sukellusvene (as "Savitaipaleen polkka") (1979)
  • Spiritual Seasons (1994)
  • Loituma (1995)
  • Six B Rothers (1995)
  • Kuplettiryhmä (1998)
  • K2 Der Watzmann (2006)
  • DJ Sharpnel (as "PRETTY GREEN ONIONS") (2006)
  • DJ Slon - Финская Полька (Finnish Polka), sung in Russian (2006)
  • Recall Project - "Як Цуп Цоп (Loituma Polkka)" (Yak Tsup Tsop) (2006)
  • Holly Dolly (as "Dolly Song [Ieva's Polka]") (2006)
  • Lena & Laurin - Der Kleine Eskimo, sung in German (2006)
  • Delin (as "Dilidala (Eva's Polka)") (2006)
  • Hatsune Miku (2007) - A singing synthesizer software; synthesized and produced by Otomania
  • Vocaloid - Kagamine Rin/Len (2008) - A singing synthesizer software
  • The Vienna Boys Choir (2008)
  • Anne Kulonen (2008) - Ready Brek TV Commercial
  • Vocaloid - Megurine Luka (2009) - A singing synthesizer software
  • Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- (2009) – Link
  • Vox Nova (2009) Link
  • Maskottina (Tonia Cestari) on YouTube (2007) and at Caserta Vecchia (Italy 2010)
  • Юлич ( - Евина полька (2010)
  • Kuunkuiskaajat (2010)
  • Korpiklaani (2012)
  • Fatzwerk - album "Zeytreyse" (2013)
  • Salut Salon (2013)
  • Busy Signal (2014)
  • NANDO, Latvian Pop Group (2015)
  • Liza, the Fox-Fairy (2015) Soundtrack
  • Erika Ikuta (2016)
  • Отава Ё (2017) Link

The content is sourced from:


  1. Red. Greger Andersson, Musik i Norden, Musikaliska akad. Stockholm 1997, article "Spelmannen och hans musik"
  2. Werman, Marco (18 August 2006). "Global Hit" (radio). The World. Public Radio International. Retrieved 18 August 2006. 
  3. Russian meme and cultural phenomena wiki Lurkmore - Yak Zup Zop article
  4. "Web Search interest: Ievan Polkka, Ievan Polka, Levan Polkka, Levan Polka - Worldwide, 2004 - present". Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  5. "Miku Hatsune - Ievan Polkka". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-09-01. 
  8. "Ready Brek – Ready For Anything". TV Ad Music. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  9. "Pokemon Loituma (Ieva's Polka) Farfetch'd!!!". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
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