The NSFW Source of Mystery 80s Song

For years before the advent of the internet, trying to identify an unfamiliar song regarding speaking with another human. A conversation would go something like, “Hey, do know the song that goes like…” and then out of tune humming would commence.

Beginning in the 2000s, technology, like WatZatSong, has helped facilitate that process on a global scale and altogether eliminated the need to directly speak with another.

Users upload tracks that stump them, and the world attempts to determine the source. Some mysteries are swiftly solved; others are tougher to crack.

But it wasn’t until October 2021 that WatZatSong received what would become its most infamous and enduring submission, from a contributor in Spain going by the handle “carl92.” It joined countless others characterized as “lost wave.”

The file is labeled “Pop – English,” indicating the genre and language. Carl92 noted:

“Mid 80s, Bad quality. (Everyone Knows That),” offering an estimate of when the song might 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. Probably I was simply learning how to capture audio and this was a left over.”

The grainy recording, just 17 seconds long, captures what indeed sounds like the catchy hook to an upbeat 1980s New Wave tune, though most of the words are hard to make out. It didn’t attract much interest at first. Yet as the months passed without an identification, each proposal of a potential artist being ruled out one after another, a cultish fascination began to take hold.

Two years later, it’s the most-commented thread in WatZatSong history, and there’s a now 50,000-strong subreddit devoted to theories about the song. Fans have recorded remixes and covers imagining the missing verses, generated longer versions with AI, and perpetrated successful hoaxes about where the original came from.

A redditor who goes by the handle “cotton–underground” and moderates the r/everyoneknowsthat forum, which was launched in June 2023 to advance the search for details about the track, told Rolling Stone that it’s tantalizing to be faced with such an enigma in this day and age.

“Why are people obsessed with it?” he says. “On one hand, it’s an incredibly catchy and recognizable tune, while on the other hand loaded with mystery. Especially in 2023, with everything digitized and music freely available, it’s probably very interesting to a lot of young people that this song is seemingly untraceable.”

There’s no end to the list of the potential sources suggested for carl92’s garbled snippet of “Everyone Knows That.” Some believe he got it off 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 hit the big time. Or it might be from a compilation of muzak created by a Japanese company and played in McDonald’s locations in Eastern Europe.

Well, after years of false leads, the musicians behind the mysterious 1980s pop tune commonly referred to as “Everyone Knows That” or “EKT” have been identified: Christopher Saint Booth sang the vocals on the beguiling track, while his identical twin brother Philip Adrian Booth played the guitar.

The Booth brothers had long forgotten the track and, until the end of April, remained completely unaware that a fragment of their track had become a viral hit. But once a couple of redditors cracked the case and named them as the musicians behind it, they were deluged with phone messages and comments on social media they couldn’t quite understand at first.

Per Christopher, “Someone sent me a link to [the Rolling Stone] article [about lostwave sleuths looking for the complete song]. Then I heard the song and I went ‘Oh yeah, that’s us.’ That’s how we found out.”

The pop song “Ulterior Motives,” which was recorded around 1986, was intended to improve the fortunes of the struggling musicians.

And while ultimately the Booth brothers’ relationship with Smokey Robinson’s producer, Gary Goetzman, resulted in a record deal, “Ulterior Motives” was not released on an album. Instead, it was for another audience.

Back to 2024. Among the thousands of sleuths on the case, redditors One-Truth-5687 and south_pole_ball made a breakthrough on April 28. One-Truth posted that he “found a video on YouTube of a scene from an adult movie that had a song which sounded very similar to EKT.” How he found that scene is unclear. He noted, however, that the description of the video included the names Christopher Saint Booth and Philip Adrian Booth. And after “skimming” 12 hours of porn, with the assistance of south_pole_ball, the source of the clip was found.

It was part of the soundtrack on the 1986 adult film “Angels of Passion.”

In their early twenties, in the 1980s, they did anything for work to support their true passion as musicians. Among their various jobs they did what may be the most disheartening job in Hollywood: they worked the craft services on an adult movie set.

They soon learned that the producers of the film needed music. According to the Booths, the were paid “quite a bit of money” for some music to use behind the scenes. Angels of Passion is just one of several adult films the pair scored in their youth.

Now, the brothers plan to release “Ulterior Motives” and if there is an audience for it, they’re prepared to release a whole album of similar tracks, that sound like Culture Club, Depeche Mode, George Michael, ABC, and “everyone in the eighties” that influenced the pair.

Because they haven’t been able to locate the original track, however, the brothers must re-record it. After noting that he “sounded like a sounded like a 13-year-old girl back then,” Christopher notes he “might have to squeeze my balls to sing that high now.”

Regarding the anonymous user that kicked off the global manhunt in 2021, carl92 has disappeared from WatZatSong. According to Philip, he heard that carl92 went into hiding instead of admitting he heard the song in porn. It is still unclear how carl92 obtained the recording he claimed to have found on a “DVD backup” while learning to capture audio. It is surprising, however, to see so many redditors in the original subreddit attempt to shame carl92 for being a “gooner.”

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