By Chloe Bryan
If you’re on TikTok, you’ve probably heard “Opaul.” Maybe you’ve even pulled a Charli D’Amelio and danced to it. But you might not know the lyrics — even if you think you do.
“Opaul” is a 2018 song by rapper Freddie Dredd, who also produced the track under the pseudonym Ryan C. But the singing you hear in the TikTok sound isn’t Freddie Dredd. It’s a sample of the Portuguese-language song “David” (also called “Odavi”) by Brazilian singer-songwriter Célia. Freddie told Mashable via Twitter DM that he named the song after his friend Paul, who introduced him to the Célia track.
The sound includes these lyrics from Célia: “Oh Davi / não vai não / Agora que esse som tá ficando bom,” which translates roughly to “Oh Davi, don’t go / Now that this song is getting good.” Some people — including who speaks Portuguese, hear “volte aqui,” which means “come back,” but “Oh Davi” makes more sense given the song’s title.
Most English-speaking TikTokers aren’t lip-synching any of those lyrics, though. Instead, they’re saying either “No, I know” or “Love, I know” in the place of “não vai não.” (The three are similar phonetically.) Then they’re crafting their TikToks around those inaccurate interpretations.
Take , which shows a girl realizing that her crush has been waxing poetic to his parents about another girl instead of her.
“You look so different from the pictures our son showed us,” say the parents.
“No, I know,” the girl says, looking lividly at the camera.
Using the phrase “love, I know,” became popular shortly thereafter, when TikTok megastar Charli D’Amelio incorporated those false lyrics into her own “Opaul” choreography. The dance went viral — as does everything D’Amelio makes — inspiring hundreds of other TikTokers to draw hearts with their hands as they mouthed the wrong words.
It’s worth noting that most TikTokers seem to be aware that the song isn’t actually in English. For one thing, a lot of the videos flash the words “no, I know” onscreen while the user is lip-synching, implying that the script is different than the actual audio. Still, the misinterpretation has understandably frustrated some users, who feel that twisting a Portuguese song from Brazil into English is disrespectful to both Célia and the language itself.
“People who think it’s ‘no I know’: ???,” reads one comment.
tik tok has taken opaul
im so sorry
— FREDDIE DREDD (@FreddieDredd) January 15, 2020
At some point, corrections in the comments reached a fever pitch, driving some TikTokers to try to fend off criticism preemptively on their own videos. Now, in a classic case of internet over-saturation, correcting the lyrics has become somewhat passé. On @iamjuststephf’s video above, for instance, the top comment is “People who still say ‘those aren’t the words’: ???.”
Freddie Dredd, for his part, is surprised that anyone thinks the song sounds like English at all. “It’s so obviously not [English],” he said. “But if it wasn’t for them mistakenly thinking it was English,” he theorized, “the trend probably wouldn’t have done as well as it did.”
He does think, however, that it’s important for listeners to understand the source material, which means checking out Célia’s original track. “I find happiness that people are finding out about Célia and Lisa Ono because of me,” he said. “I love them so much.” (Lisa Ono is a Brazilian-Japanese bossa nova artist; Freddie Dredd sampled her song “Sway It, Hula Girl” on his track “Cha Cha,” which is also a TikTok hit.) “Go listen to Célia & Lisa Ono instead of me, broaden your musical horizons.”