Alpha & Omega
It is a pure coincidence that, around the time I was discovering an amazing reinvention of Wu Tang’s “Starz” / Wendy Rene’s “After laughter (come tears)” thanks to Spotify, I also stumbled upon the Mid90s trailer in theaters. I’d already heard about Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, even sat through extended radio interviews of the man and his cast promoting it and I gotta say it sounded pretty damn good. To the point that, by the time I eventually saw the trailer, I was completely sold on watching the full thing. In other words, that promotional tour of theirs had worked.
What didn’t hurt was the soundtrack: it literally opened on “Starz”, making my recent rediscovery all the more topical - and arguably hitting home with me that much harder. There was an other track in the trailer, though, and it sounded even more massive than the Wu Tang’s early musings, as crazy as that may seem. I’m talking about the near-symphonic instrumental piece that gave its emphatic beat to the latter half of the video, and sounded like yet another cult sample cut from yet another cult track I’d apparently completely forgotten about.
And so I did my research, as anyone in my position (and with my obsessions) would do. Turns out it is a cult classic, only I (allegedly) didn’t know about it. Then.
The song is called “Gyöngyhajú lány”, by Omega. And, if you can’t understand the title, neither can I: it’s Hungarian (and it means “The girl with pearly hair”, as per Wikipedia’s always 100% trustworthy translations). And it’s also a 50-year old progressive rock tune that has been covered time and time again, most notably in the 80’s by German band Scorpions (slowly getting closer to English-speaking lands over here…), although I’m not even sure that’s how I got to know the song.
Or that I actually knew the song before, period: it may be early onset old age, but I felt pretty certain I’d heard the song before, although I can’t actually say for sure. All I can say is, when I found it on Youtube a couple of weeks ago, I was not convinced I’d ever known the name of the band. Let alone of the song. So, did I or didn’t I already know the track?
The short answer is — who cares? It’s a hell of a track that deserves all the attention it got (not thanks to me) over the past 5 decades and, I assume, in the years to come following this movie. It has all the traits of a true musical classic: impeccable melody, sophisticated production and a feel of grandiose that never fails to please (me). Whether you understand the lyrics or not is a significantly less relevant question (not to mention the fact that they also recorded it in English if you insist).
I’ve always considered that cult songs transcend languages, perhaps because I would naturally pay way more attention to the phonetic intonations of the vocal track than its actual meaning. Music is about feeling, and the emotions it intuitively generates, rather than the analysis of a song’s lyrics. That is an other exercice entirely, perfectly worth the while, but not necessarily contributing to the immediate experience. Unless both elements come together to create a whole that is even stronger, see “A day in the life” or “You can’t always get what you want”.
Meanwhile, we’ll keep enjoying “Gyöngyhajú lány”, or however else it’s spelled.
PS. The movie is OK, but I was somewhat disappointed after such a startling musical introduction…