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North Korean Accordion quintet covers "Take On Me." (SLYT) Part of a project by Morten Traavik, a Norwegian theatre and film director, (previously featured on Metafilter). posted by dismas (51 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh, extraneous parentheses. Help, mods?
posted by dismas at 1:39 PM on February 3, 2012


This is basically my entire childhood summed up in a minute and a half. Thank you.
posted by jph at 1:44 PM on February 3, 2012


The phone ring at the end is kind of classic. I regret only that it's a mere 1:32, not the full song.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:46 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only is NK a repressive totalitarian state ruled by a line of hereditary autocrats, but on top of it they also force teenagers to take accordion lessons. The banality of evil?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:49 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Phonte's cover of Take On Me.
posted by cashman at 1:49 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure the North Koreans are incredibly excited to be able to listen to this cutting edge top of the charts pop music too.
posted by xmutex at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kim Jung Weird Al approves.
posted by Gary at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


How nice to see North Koreans having fun and being happy for a change. I imagine that they're quite competent musicians, anyone care to nay/yay on this?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does the video end with someone reaching into their carefully drawn world and pulling them through the frame into ours?
posted by rh at 1:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Kim Jung Weird Al approves.

Weird Al Sung?
posted by The Tensor at 1:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I would totally go see a North Korean accordion ensemble if they came on a North American Juche good-will tour. Make it happen Kim Jong-un!
posted by ghharr at 1:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


A gentleman is somebody who can play the accordion, but doesn't.
posted by entropone at 1:54 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Woo. Great arrangement.
Great antidote to annoying covers by the incredibly irritating and unimaginative Ukulele Orchestra and their crap novelty covers for yuks.
posted by JBennett at 1:55 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


RING RING

"Hello?"
"THIS IS THE MINISTRY OF HAPPINESS. ARE YOU HAVING HAPPINESS?"
"Uh, no, comrade. I was just... sitting with my four friends and a Norwegian film crew."
"WE HEARD ACCORDION."
"There is no accordion here, comrade."
"WE HEARD A-HA."
"It must have been an echo, comrade."
"ONLY BRILLIANT LEADER PLAYS A-HA ON THE ACCORDION."
"I have all of his A-ha accordion EP's, comrade. We listen every day. Perhaps my sister was playing one... in the pantry. Such is her love of Brilliant Leader."
[pause]
"HAVE HER PLAY IT AGAIN."

posted by bicyclefish at 1:57 PM on February 3, 2012 [24 favorites]


The nice thing about accordions is that they make ukuleles sound reasonable.
posted by MtDewd at 1:57 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


True story--On the 4th floor of the Georgia State University library in the 90s, the sign outside the elevator indicated that fiction by authors with last names starting He-Z was to the left. Guess what was to the right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:05 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


A-He?
posted by jph at 2:07 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


All three founding members of A Ha, in mint condition, in their original wrappers, and shelved alongside Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter?
posted by koeselitz at 2:08 PM on February 3, 2012


I really want to visit North Korea, just to see the illusion more closely.
posted by humanfont at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2012


A-He?
Gasundhait!
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I like this video of North Korean accordionists. I like how they remembered to make sure to keep the guy holding the gun on them out of the shot.
posted by koeselitz at 2:13 PM on February 3, 2012


Are there any other accordion quintet recordings or videos floating around out there? Because, you know, this is gorgeous.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 2:15 PM on February 3, 2012


The most amazing part is how they managed to keep from sliding downhill.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:21 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the youtube comments pointed out that Norway is one of the only countries to have an embassy in North Korea, which probably explains the A-ha.
posted by dismas at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2012


True story--On the 4th floor of the Georgia State University library in the 90s, the sign outside the elevator indicated that fiction by authors with last names starting He-Z was to the left. Guess what was to the right?

No love for Czech author Slavoj Hdrzk, I guess.
posted by chimaera at 2:23 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the youtube comments pointed out that Norway is one of the only countries to have an embassy in North Korea, which probably explains the A-ha.

And on further investigation, that's not even true. I should stop posting in my own thread.
posted by dismas at 2:23 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


A-Hd?
posted by hamandcheese at 2:42 PM on February 3, 2012


Parts of that totally made me think of Amélie. I kinda like the accordion.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:47 PM on February 3, 2012


Bizarre.

Anyway, this Al Jazera documentary on the NK's film program is really fascinating.
posted by delmoi at 2:51 PM on February 3, 2012


All three founding members of A Ha, in mint condition...

koeselitz, have you seen Morten Harkett recently? Somone's got a painting in the attic...
posted by Iteki at 2:55 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I fucking love the Internet.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:10 PM on February 3, 2012


"The only substitute for an experience we ourselves have never lived through is art, literature. They possess a wonderful ability: beyond distinctions of language, custom, social structure, they can convey the life experience of one whole nation to another.”

—Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, 1970 Nobel lecture
posted by ecmendenhall at 3:20 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the Glorious People's Democratic Republic of A-ha-istan, accordion plays you.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2012


Seconding JBennett's props for the arrangement. I never thought my reaction to a North Korean music performance would be "Holy fuck, I want to practice, like, now." And yet here we are!
posted by the_bone at 4:10 PM on February 3, 2012


MetaFilter: "A gentleman is somebody who can play the accordion, but doesn't."
posted by Blasdelb at 4:24 PM on February 3, 2012


But can they play Crazy Train! (Youtube)
posted by jackspace at 4:56 PM on February 3, 2012


"I really want to visit North Korea, just to see the illusion more closely".

I went there last summer. You have to realize that once you get there you too become a propaganda tool. You'll have to wear a tie when you visit the mausoleum of Kimi Il Sung. You'll be taken to his waxen corpse (where you'll bow respectfully three times) on slow moving walkways, while on the opposite walkway you'll stare into the blank eyes of hundreds of North Koreans silently gliding past in the opposite direction. They'll understand that you too have traveled from a foreign land to Honor the Fatherly Leader, and witness the universal benefits of the principles of Juche.

You'll may also go the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, an apparently theatrical showpiece to underline the top notch care for mothers and children there. I saw a ward where there were triplets, separated from their mothers, being tended to by a nurse who intermittently shook their cribs to comfort them. You'll witness this in the knowledge that babies with defects may not get a chance at all.
posted by marvin at 4:56 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent!
posted by R. Mutt at 5:53 PM on February 3, 2012


So I heard it much better if I closed my eyes. Just could not connect that image with that tune.
posted by Glinn at 6:20 PM on February 3, 2012


You have to realize that once you get there you too become a propaganda tool.

Unfortunately if I ever step foot in Pyongyang, a nightingale will descend from its hidden place on Mt. Kumang and sing a song that proclaims me the glorious shining star of the morning and true successor to Kim Jong Il. Then both Kim Il Sing and Kim Jong Il's corpses will be seem to point at me and salute while a great sound of thunder is heard all over the land. I will find this situation extremely awkward and uncomfortable.
posted by humanfont at 7:42 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


tell me there's a download link
posted by Taft at 11:21 PM on February 3, 2012


Taft - I don't know if it's acceptable to post this (mods please remove or others flag if not) - but Google "keepvid". Its a web tool that allows you to take local copies of YT video or audio...
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 2:01 AM on February 4, 2012


South Korean Soda ad with an uncanny resemblance to the one for Take On Me.
posted by azarbayejani at 8:02 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taft - I don't know if it's acceptable to post this (mods please remove or others flag if not) - but Google "keepvid". Its a web tool that allows you to take local copies of YT video or audio...
It's just keepvid.com. Be aware that 1) it uses java and 2) supposedly it has some annoying/sketchy ads - I don't know since I use adblock.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2012


I think it is safe to call them "THE North Korean Accordion Quintet." I doubt there is another group that they could be confused with.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:01 PM on February 4, 2012


Thread needs more repressive regime jokes.
posted by schwa at 6:19 PM on February 4, 2012


The nice thing about accordions is that they make ukuleles sound reasonable.

MtDewd, you have no idea how much your link amused me.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:11 PM on February 4, 2012


BlueHorse- You are correct.
posted by MtDewd at 2:40 AM on February 5, 2012


The nice thing about accordions is that they make ukuleles sound reasonable.

MtDewd, you have no idea how much your link amused me.


Ok, I didn't click at the original mention, but I was forced to after this comment, and wow. I did not know that was possible. He sounded pretty great, right, even his voice? I found the whole thing most impressive (though at times I am easily impressed).
posted by Glinn at 4:32 PM on February 5, 2012


So, I've listened to this a few dozen times because it's awesome, but I just realized that musical instruments are covered in the international sanctions against N. Korea. Those musicians have cornered the accordion black market.
posted by Garm at 10:48 PM on February 5, 2012


More info on the accord players: Over several years of visits, Norwegian artist Morten Traavik persuaded North Korea’s culture officials to allow North Korean musicians and artists to visit the Barents festival. In return, some Norwegian performers will perform in North Korea in May.

At the Barents festival, in addition to the North Korea accordion troupe, Mr. Traavik is hosting two directors from North Korea’s famous “Mass Games,” the stadium spectacle in which people hold up colored cards to form pictures.

posted by marvin at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2012


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