Grim Reaper Sings About Kids Dying in Unicef’s Insane Sound of Music Parody

Waterborne illnesses are some of his favorite things

The hills are alive with the sound of Unicef Sweden singing about cholera.

A jolly grim reaper does a Broadway number on waterborne diseases in Forsman & Bodenfors' insane new ad from the children's charity. Titled "The Sound of Death," it parodies The Sound of Music—namely the song "My Favorite Things," performed by children in the musical. But instead of whiskers on kittens and brown paper packages tied up with string, it turns out that Death loves dysentery and leptospirosis.

The clip is firmly in the Mel Brooks tradition of dark comedy (Think "The Spanish Inquisition" from History of the World, Part I, or maybe more appropriate, the Nazi-themed "Springtime for Hitler" from The Producers). And any macabre, musical PSA these days is likely to evoke, however slightly, "Dumb Ways to Die."

Frankly, the lyrics could be better. And the extra wry approach makes the concept tough to swallow, but that's kind of its point. It doesn't quite trivialize the horrors it's trying to address, it just pretends to do so, as a way to guilt viewers—essentially saying, "Enjoy this silly song … about the thousands of kids dying every day." Whether that's an effective call to action, who knows? It's certainly memorable.

And at least it keeps up musical theater's raison d'etre of having people burst into song about everything, all the time, even when it's totally inappropriate.

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.