Listen to this song. Just listen to it, and try to invoke the place and time in which this song would have been popular. Try to imagine what the lead singer might have looked like, or what social circles would have played it on cassette tapes at their house parties. Maybe you like the song, maybe you don’t, but you can’t deny the captivating energy it has. Perhaps it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, and you’re humming your own interpretation of the almost inaudible words. It has elements of the heyday of synth-music, exemplified by new wave bands such as Depeche Mode, and has haunting vocals akin to those of Robert Smith, front man of The Cure. The song sounds monumental. Like a song that should be, but somehow never became, a classic. But what is it? What is the story of this song? Well, nobody knows. But there’s an online community determined to find out.
The online search for the origin of the song has been active ever since it was made available online in the early 2000s. Since that is over 15 years of online-sleuthing, it’s impossible to compile all elements of the search into a modest blog post such as this one. For those interested in a fun rabbit hole and an evening to waste, I definitely recommend visiting the links at the end of this blog post. What is known for sure, is that the song was recorded from a German radio station known as NDR1, and that it was included in a show called “Musik für Junge Leute” (“Music for Young People”) in 1984. Another proven fact is that the chorus of the song features a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, specifically a preset called Syn-Lead 5, which has exactly the same sound as the song. This means it must have come out after 1983, the year in which this specific synthesizer was released. Aside from that, nothing is known for sure. No band, no country of origin, no date, no album, nothing. Even though the search has progressed over the years, and bits and pieces of information surrounding the song have been uncovered, the most important details remain shrouded in mystery.
The investigation has been going on ever since the song was first brought up in 2007, when ‘Anton Riedel’, who later turned to be a woman named Lydia, posted several snippets inquiring about the song. This Lydia also happens to be the sister of the man who originally recorded the song from German radio in 1984, Darius. With many twists and turns in this investigation, I wasn’t lying when I said it’s a rabbit hole to research.
Since the earliest known uploads by Anton Riedel/Lydia in 2007 the search had died down, since no satisfying answers were found. However, in April of 2019 a Reddit user called u/gabgaskins (real name Gabriel) created 44 posts regarding the mysterious song in various subreddits, which reignited the search effort. In June of that year the subreddit r/TheMysteriousSong is created, and Reddit bit itself down into the mystery.
What really kicked off the popularity of the search and the accompanying subreddit, was when in July 2019 Youtuber Justin Wang uploaded a video titled: “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet – Tales From the Internet”. The subreddit dedicated to finding the song saw a lot of traffic after this upload, and many new people were introduced to this mysterious song, which was now dubbed “The Mysterious Song” (TMS for short), or “Like the Wind”, after the interpreted lyrics.
All these enthusiasts came together, and put an incredible amount of work towards finding out more about the song. The radio DJ who was rumoured to have originally played the song in 1984 was contacted, archival research was done, numerous potential bands were uncovered and contacted; and all of this was documented on the subreddit. All possible leads were investigated, some more promising than others. To illustrate how much work has been put into researching, just check out this spreadsheet of over 250 possible investigated leads created by moderators of the subreddit. However, in the end, most of it turned out to be in vain.
With an inexhaustible power they continue the investigation into the most mysterious song on the internet. Over thirty thousand Reddit users follow the subreddit as of today; an immense online community brought together by curiousity, and their interest in this strange unidentifiable song. This case of The Mysterious Song just goes to show that dedicated online communities can form surrounding the most niche subjects.
No, the answers haven’t been found as of November 2021. The most popular theory, according to a poll held on the subreddit, is that The Mysterious Song is a demo by a band from the Hamburg area, local to the radio station that aired it in the 80’s. That might mean it will remain forever unknown by whom, and when and where this song was recorded. But the most fascinating part of this investigation, is arguably no longer the factual answers to these questions. What is far more interesting is the online community that has been brought together by the search for this specific song. The dedication with which members of the subreddit have researched this song is astounding, and illustrates our human tendency to latch onto ‘the unknown’. There are probably many songs like The Mysterious Song that remain undocumented, and left in obscurity. What makes this song special is the ferocity with which an online community of strangers banded together in their search efforts. Even if the origin of the song is never discovered, it at least birthed a very interesting online phenomenon.
And hey, if you ever find yourself at a party where you feel the need to impress the other partygoers with your obscure music taste, play them this. I mean, literally no one has ever even heard of it.