By | November 12, 2023
mysterious synth song

Got a few seconds? Then lend your ears – you might just have the answer to a question that has baffled forensic audio obsessives for years.

Before the days of apps like Shazam, trying to identify an unfamiliar song was a team effort. WatZatSong, a social network dating back to 2006 (early days of Web 2.0) facilitated that process on a global scale. Users could upload tracks that had bothered them, and crowdsource guesses about where it had come from. Some mysteries were quickly solved; others were harder to crack. But it wasn’t until 2021 that WatZatSong received what would become its most infamous and enduring contribution, from a contributor in Spain who went by the handle “carl92.”

The file is labeled “Pop – English”, indicating the genre and language. “Mid 80’s, bad quality. (Everybody knows it),” carl92 wrote, giving an estimate of when the song may have been recorded. “Everyone Knows That” is an interpretation of a lyric heard in the clip. “I rediscover (ed) this sample between a bunch of very old files in a DVD backup,” explained carl92 in a follow-up comment. “I was probably learning how to capture audio and this was a holdover.”

The grainy recording, just 17 seconds long, captures what really sounds like the catchy hook of an upbeat New Wave song from the 1980s, although most of the words are hard to make out. It didn’t attract much interest at first. But as the months passed without identification, and each proposal from a potential artist was ruled out one by one, a cultic fascination began to take hold. Two years later, it’s the most commented thread in WatZatSong history, and there’s a 5,000-strong subreddit devoted to theories about the song. Fans have recorded remixes and covers depicting the missing verses, generated longer versions with AI, and successfully hoaxed where the original came from. But the fact remains: nobody knows the band behind “Everyone Knows That.”

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A redditor who goes by the handle “cotton–underground” and moderates the forum r/everyoneknowsthat, which was launched in June 2023 to speed up the search for details about the track, says Rolling stone that it is tempting to be faced with such a conundrum in our day. “Why are people obsessed with it?” he says. “On the one hand, it’s an incredibly catchy and recognizable song, but on the other hand, loaded with mystery. Especially in 2023, with everything digitized and music freely available, it’s probably very interesting to many young people that this song is seemingly untraceable .”

The lack of leads is in itself intriguing, he says, comparing “Everybody Knows It” to another popular piece of so-called “lost media,” commonly known as “Like the Wind” or “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet.” This was recorded sometime in the 1980s from a German radio broadcast and has likewise thwarted years of investigation into who produced it. (Such artifacts are sometimes given the genre tag “lostwave.”) But, Cotton Underground notes, people researching “Like the Wind” have an entire, three-minute, decent-quality audio file to work from. The existing short fragment of “Everybody Knows It”, the exact lyrics of which are still subject to debate (for example, some hear the words “backgrounds” where others hear “fear of feelings”), presents a greater degree of difficulty for audio detectives. Some even believe that carl92, who left WatZatSong after uploading it, was doing some kind of crazy prank.

In fact, frustrations over the relative challenges of pinning down “Everybody Knows It” versus “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet” have inspired memes about the hopelessness of the hunt — while debates on r/everybody know have sometimes become so contentious as to trigger fits of trolling and harassment. While trying to solve the history of such unknown mediums is technically nothing more than an online hobby, it obviously arouses high passions.

There is no end to the list of potential sources suggested for carl92’s garbled excerpt of “Everybody Knows It.” Some believe he got it from an MTV broadcast in the 1990s, while others are convinced it was a commercial jingle. It could be an unreleased demo by a group that never made it big. Or it could be from a collection of muzak created by a Japanese company and played at McDonald’s locations in Eastern Europe — except an investigator called the distributor and confirmed they have no such track in their databases. These dead ends have only multiplied.

Another r/everyone knows moderator, with the handle sodapopyarn, says the community is still completely in the dark. “Sadly, there have been no solid leads and there have been many, many more hoaxes,” he says Rolling stone. One of the most infamous is now remembered as the “michael92 incident,” where “a user by that name posted an extended clip to WatZatSong with a Japanese voiceover throughout,” he says. “The whole community was tricked into thinking it was real for about four hours until it was revealed. It turned out that michael92 had used a mix of different isolates and covers/remixes to create the clip.” After the ruse was discovered and the file deleted, it became a piece of lost media in its own right, until the sodapopyar uploaded it in its entirety to the subreddit as a “mini” historical” relic from the search for the real “Everybody Knows It.”

“It was nice to have hope, but lately the scams have become so common that it becomes more and more disturbing for the search,” laments the soda pop guy. Yet it often seems that creative inspiration — not the dogged pursuit of cold, hard truth — is what keeps the discussion going. As one YouTube commenter wrote in a new music video that convincingly renders the song in polished form, complete with appropriately 1980s neon visuals: “Even if we find the original, it probably won’t be as good as this.”

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But having this amount of original content can make cracking the “Everybody Knows It” case even more satisfying. If people were to finally track down the band, the sodapop guy says he’d like to “tell them about this whole scavenger hunt,” adding that it would be “especially cool to show them all the cover songs that people have done.”

Patience will be key though. Other lostwave enthusiasts have gone much further without discovering who wrote or sang a piece of music that curiously affected them. A wistful jangle-rock song often compared to hits by Irish band The Cranberries, called “How Long Will It Take,” has been making the rounds since at least 2007, with fans no closer to figuring out the artist or the truth. title after nearly two decades of investigation. A new subreddit dedicated to the song appeared just a month ago.

For connoisseurs like the soda pop guy, the lack of answers isn’t a deterrent—it’s the persistent interest in collaboration that makes the hunt worthwhile. “People within the community will always come and go,” he says. “But I truly believe that society as a whole will never die until the song is fully found.”


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