In 2007, someone named “Anton” went on various music websites asking for help. He recorded a song from a German radio station in the 1980s and asked if anybody could identify the musician.
Today, thousands of people on Reddit and Discord are still searching for the artist behind the song, which has become known as “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet.”
Can you solve the mystery?
The mysterious unknown song
Between 1982 and 1984, a teenage music fan, “Anton”, who lived in the town of Wilhelmshaven on the north coast of Germany recorded songs he heard on the radio onto a cassette deck. One of his go-to programs was Musik für junge Leute (“Music for Young People”) on the German public-radio station NDR 1. One of those tapes, which Darius calls “cassette 4,” includes then-new songs from 1984 by XTC, the Cure, and one of 25 cuts Darius deemed his “unknown pleasures” — songs he liked, but knew little about.
He claims he isn’t certain that he taped the bleak but compelling tune off that particular broadcast, since the cassettes sometimes include tracks from different sources. But he knows he didn’t record an intro by a DJ or anything else that would identify it.
“It was just one of many songs I recorded and didn’t know the artist,” he says. “I believe I didn’t hear an announcement. Maybe I heard it partially and missed the artist’s name. Everything is possible.”
Combining the release dates of the other known songs on the tape and the fact that the Technics tape deck he says he owned at the time was manufactured in 1984, he’s fairly certain he made the recording that year.
But in 2007, his sister decided she needed to know who was behind the mysterious song.
“All the years of passively searching for the lyrics on the internet hadn’t brought any results, so I thought, it’s time to become more active and reach out for a bigger audience,” she says. Calling herself “Anton Riedel” (and alternately going by “bluuue”), she posted a digitized snippet of the song — one minute and 14 seconds, thinking this would help avoid copyright hassles — on a German site devoted to Eighties synth-pop as well as a Canadian music site, spiritofradio.ca, which enables fans to upload obscure songs for identification purposes. (In some ways, it’s a crowdsourced version of Shazam.)
“I had just found out about newsgroups and Usenet,” she says, “and somehow got the idea this could be the place where people could help.” (A 2007 upload of the clip from bluuue is still available on the site.)
That portion of the song bounced around on the web — Nicolás Zúñiga of Dead Wax, an indie label that specializes in synth-pop and post-punk bands, was among those who heard it and were entranced by it — but no one stepped forward to claim credit or supply any useful background about its origins or creators. That same portion was uploaded to YouTube at least as early as 2011 but received fewer than 10,000 views.
On Reddit several thousand users got in on the pursuit, posting theories and possible contact info, and dissecting the song in ways that would rival the most dedicated Dylanologists. Based on the singer’s accent, is the band from Germany or, perhaps, Poland or Austria? Is it even a band, or a one-man-group operation? Is the unknown singer intoning, “hear the young and restless dreaming” or “here you’re under arrest for screaming”? Is the song a comment on the Cold War? Is the song called “Like the Wind,” after its not entirely decipherable opening line? Or is that voice singing “Locked Away”?
At Christmas 2019, CoolInterestingStuff.com covered the case in the hope of shedding some light.