Darth Vader walks into a room. An orchestra spits out a dramatic tune full of foreboding and fear. You're listening to the "Imperial March," a song synonymous with Sith danger, Force-choking and the Dark Side. Now listen to it as sung by a yelling toad.
On Sunday, YouTube user helen ge posted a 13-second video of a toad being held in a person's hand. It's hard to tell if the critter is actually a frog or a toad, but we'll go with what our YouTuber says it is.
If you watch the video normally, you'll just hear the toad emitting a high-pitched scream. To get the "Imperial March" you need to follow the onscreen instructions to hit a series of numbers on your keyboard as the video plays. This causes the video to jump to certain spots. Get your rhythm right and it produces a bizarre rendition of Vader's catchy tune.
This method of creating music is known as "YouTube Number Key Remixes." It's a phenomenon popularized through the massive online forum Reddit.
Research shows the "Imperial March" as sung by an amphibian first popped up in 2012. We can thank the cyclical nature of the Internet for the current revival that rocketed the latest video up to the top spot on the "Hot" list in the videos section of Reddit on Tuesday. The onscreen instructions included with the latest video make it a lot easier to pull off the interactive song.
There's an explanation for all that high-pitched yelling. The BBC's Discover Wildlife site notes that some frogs can emit a "shrill, piercing shriek" as an alarm. Scientists speculate it may be used to dissuade predators. The toad interpretation isn't nearly as ominous as the original soundtrack recording, but it is extremely amusing.