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The song which has the whole of the internet stumped

Article author :

Juliette Maes

Juliette graduated with a Master's degree in Press and Information from IHECS in 2020. She started her journalism career at ELLE Belgium, for which she still writes today. She is interested in feminist and social issues, including female entrepreneurship, inclusiveness and ecological transition. Professionally, Juliette is on the move. Besides journalism, she is a photographer and videographer, notably for Badger Production, a Brussels-based company specialised in corporate storytelling.

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For the past two years, a song has been making its way around the web. Thousands of netizens have taken up the challenge of identifying its title or its author, without success. The clip seems to have slipped through the tight meshes of the internet.

It is the story of a song, discovered by chance on a back-up DVD belonging to a Spanish internet user. Curious to find out the title and the singer of the song, he posted the 17-second clip, which he estimates dates back 30 or 40 years, on the internet, with the hope that somebody might help him to identify it. For two years the entire internet has been recruited to try and find where the music comes from, but to no avail.

These days, if you want to find the title of a song, you simply ask Shazam and that’s all there is to it. Previously, it was a little more complicated. But that was before the creation of WatZatSong. The website created in 2006 brings together the inquisitive and music enthusiasts on a single platform so that they can identify any mystery music together.

In 2021, after fifteen uneventful years, a Spanish contributor named ‘carI92’ posted 17 seconds of a song whose origins he wished to discover. He specified that the song is in English, in the pop genre, dates from the middle of the 1980s, is of poor quality, and, according to him, includes the lyrics ‘Everyone knows that.’ A request like any of the others received beforehand, except that this one would end up travelling around the world, uniting thousands of internet users longing to crack the mystery and feeding all kinds of off-the-wall theories.

From Japanese music for a Polish McDonalds to an advert which never saw the light of day

Since the beginning of these investigations into the origins of ‘Everyone Knows That’, the dead ends have only increased in number, with numerous practical jokes disrupting the work being carried out. Some think that the song is from a programme on MTV from the 1990s, whilst others are convinced that it was a commercial jingle. It could be an unpublished demo by a group which never made much of a splash. Or it might be from a muzak compilation created by a Japanese company and played in McDonalds eateries throughout Eastern Europe – except that one of the investigators called the distributor and confirmed that there were no music pieces of that type in their databases. The blind alleys ends continue to come thick and fast. 

In the end, the song’s original title and its singer are only of mild importance. What does raise a question is how, in a world where everything seems to be backed up and stored, it could have slipped through the meshes of digitalisation, archiving and the collective memory.

Perhaps we will never find the answers we are hoping for, but for sodapopyar, a moderator for the subreddit r/everyoneknowsthat, on which a large part of this particular search is being carried out, that is not disheartening. It is precisely the sustained and collaborative interest which makes the pursuit valuable. ‘The people within the community come and go’, they say, ‘but I sincerely believe that the community as a whole will never die out as long as the song has not completely given up its secrets.’

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