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Do you have a few seconds? So lend your ears – you might just have the answer to a question that has perplexed 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 (the beginnings of Web 2.0), has facilitated this process on a global scale. Users could download songs that had left them perplexed and guess where they came 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 long-lasting submission, from a Spanish contributor named “carl92.”
The file is titled “Pop – English”, indicating the genre and language. “Mid 80s, poor quality. (Everyone knows),” Carl92 wrote, offering an estimate of when the song might have been recorded. “Everyone Knows That” is a rendition of the lyrics heard in the music video. “I rediscovered this sample among a bunch of very old files in a DVD backup,” Carl92 explained in a later comment. “I was probably just learning how to capture audio and this was a leftover.”
The grainy recording, only 17 seconds long, captures what effectively sounds like the catchy chorus of an upbeat 1980s New Wave tune, although most of the words are difficult to make out. It didn’t generate much interest at first. Yet as the months passed without identification, with each potential artist proposal rejected one after the other, a sectarian fascination began to take hold. Two years later, it’s the most commented-on thread in WatZatSong history, and there’s a 5,000-strong subreddit devoted to theories about the song. Fans recorded remixes and covers imagining the missing verses, generated longer versions with AI, and perpetrated successful hoaxes about the provenance of the original. But the fact remains: no one knows the band behind “Everyone Knows That.”
An editor who goes by the name “cotton-underground” and moderates the forum r/everyoneknowsthat, which was launched in June 2023 to advance the search for details on the song, says rolling stone how tempting it is to be confronted with such a conundrum these days. “Why are people obsessed with it? ” he says. “On the one hand, it’s an incredibly catchy and recognizable song, and on the other, full of mystery. Especially in 2023, with everything being digitized and music available for free, a lot of young people will probably be very interested in the fact that this song seems impossible to find.”
The lack of tracks is intriguing in itself, he says, comparing “Everybody Knows That” to another popular piece of so-called “lost media,” widely known as “Like the Wind” or “The Song the most mysterious on the Internet. This was recorded in the 1980s from a German radio broadcast and also thwarted years of investigation into who produced it. (Such artifacts are sometimes given the genre label “lostwave.”) But, Cotton-Underground notes, people researching “Like the Wind” have a full three-minute audio file, as good as decent, from which to work. The existing short fragment of “Everyone Knows That”, the precise lyrics of which are still the subject of debate (some hear the words “ulterior motives” where others hear “fear of emotions”, for example) presents a more high degree of difficulty for audio detectives. . Some even think that Carl92, who left WatZatSong after posting it online, pulled off some sort of infuriating prank.
Indeed, frustrations over the relative difficulties of identifying “Everybody Knows That” versus “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet” have inspired memes about the desperation of the hunt – while debates on r/all the world knows that have sometimes become so controversial. trigger episodes of trolling and harassment. Although seeking to sort out the history of such unknown media is technically nothing more than an online hobby, it clearly stirs up great passions.
There is no end to the list of potential sources suggested for the truncated excerpt from Carl92’s “Everybody Knows That.” Some think he got it from an MTV show in the 1990s, while others are convinced it was a commercial jingle. It could be an unreleased demo from a band that never had much success. Or it could have come from a muzak compilation created by a Japanese company and played at McDonald’s locations in Eastern Europe – except an investigator called the distributor and confirmed there was no of this type of song in its databases. These impasses have only multiplied.
Another moderator of r/everyone knows that, with the username sodapopyarn, says that the community is still completely in the dark. “Unfortunately, so far, there have been no solid leads and there have been many more hoaxes,” he says. rolling stone. One of the most famous is now known as the “Michael92 incident,” in which “a user by that name posted a long clip on WatZatSong with Japanese voiceover throughout,” he says. “The entire community believed it was real for about four hours until it was debunked. It was found that Michael92 used a mixture of various isolations and covers/remixes to create the music video. After the ruse was discovered and the file deleted, it became lost media in its own right, until sodapopyarn uploaded it in full to the subreddit as a “mini ‘historical’ relic of the search for the real “Everything the world knows it.”
“It was fun to be hopeful, but lately hoaxes have become so common that it’s increasingly disruptive to searches,” laments sodapopyarn. Yet it often seems like it’s creative inspiration – not the stubborn pursuit of cold, hard truth – that keeps the discussion going. As one YouTube commenter wrote in a recent music video that convincingly fleshes out the song in polished form, with suitably neon 1980s visuals: “Even if we find the original, it probably won’t be as good as this one. »
However, having this wealth of original content could make solving the case of “Everybody Knows That” even more satisfying. If people were finally able to track down the band, sodapopyarn said he would want to “talk to them about this whole treasure hunt,” adding that it would be “especially cool to show them all the covers people have done.”
Patience will be key though. Other Lostwave enthusiasts have gone much longer without discovering who wrote or sang a piece of music that curiously affected them. A fiery jangle-rock track, frequently compared to the hits of Irish band The Cranberries, called “How Long Will It Take”, has been making the rounds on and off since at least 2007, with fans still far from discovering the artist or the truth. title after nearly two decades of investigation. A new subreddit dedicated to the song appeared barely a month ago.
For geeks like sodapopyarn, the lack of answers isn’t discouraging: it’s the sustained, collaborative interest that makes the pursuit worthwhile. “People within the community are always coming and going,” he said. “But I truly believe that the community as a whole will never die until the song is fully found.”