Great Fakeout Songs: "Luka" and the Invention of the MP3


If you don't listen to the lyrics, you'd think this was one of the happiest tunes ever written. But behind the B-52's style pop melodies, there lies total darkness.

I love Suzanne Vega's anecdote in the New York Times about her early performances of the song:

“Luka” was not a popular song when I would perform it back then. I would watch people from the stage. You could see their faces change as they thought about the lyrics; a frown would appear, then a general look of unhappiness, followed by a scowl directed at the floor and, at the conclusion, a smattering of reluctant applause. Then a request for something else, usually “Gypsy” or something in a major key with a chorus.

That's what Great Fakeout Songs is all about!

More interesting trivia about Suzanne Vega: "Tom's Diner" was used to optimize the newly invented mp3 format, as it were widely considered the most perfect recordings from a sonic perspective. Many artists used "Luka" to test their speakers for the same reason, including Philip Glass, oddly enough.

But if you think you're sick of "Tom's Diner":

“He wound up listening to the song thousands of times,” the article, written by Hilmar Schmundt, continued, “and the result was a code that was heard around the world. When an MP3 player compresses music by anyone from Courtney Love to Kenny G, it is replicating the way that Brandenburg heard Suzanne Vega.”

How lovely is that! Suzanne Vega may not have had a hit in over two decades, but we hear her sound in every mp3. Go read the article.

Anyway, here's the song!

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