Over the past few weeks, a certain orchestral tune may have crossed your TikTok For You page. Typically accompanied by either pleased or horrified reactions to the Face Zoom filter, the sound has nearly 300,000 videos on TikTok, yet many remain unaware of its origins. If you grew up in a Hispanic household, though, you may recognize the hymn as an orchestral version of "Hijo de la Luna," or "Son of the Moon," a song by the Spanish '80s pop group Mecano.
Through this song, lead singer Ana Torroja takes us to a Spanish nightfall where a Romani woman pleads to the moon for love. Before dawn arrives, the woman on the moon answers her cries, but with a single request—to mother her firstborn. True to her word, the human woman quickly finds a husband—a man with olive eyes and dark skin just like her. But when her first child arrives, the resemblance is not of the human parents. The child of gray eyes and gleaming pale skin is none other than the son of the moon.
The husband believes this to be a result of infidelity, so with a heart overtaken by rage and a knife in hand, he mercilessly kills his wife and leaves their baby for dead. As the tale goes, the child grows up to wander the mountainsides, but never alone. When he cries, it's for all to see as his mother wanes in the sky, forming a cradle for her son.
While the premise may leave some readers skeptical, after listening to the masterpiece with Torroja's dreamy vocals and the emotional ballad played by brothers Nacho and Jose María Cano, you're sure to be left captivated.
While the trio broke up in 1992—only to come back together and break up again in 1998—the stories they shared remain timeless. Through detailed storytelling and dramatic melodies that perfectly match the exhilaration, affection, or sorrow of their words, they create more than just songs. Rather, they are immersive experiences.
Even though some of their top hits had the perfect upbeat rock sound for clubs—for example, "Hoy no me Puedo Levantar" ("I Can’t Get Up Today") and "Ay! Que Pesado" ("Oh! How Heavy")—behind these pop rhythms were underlying themes of dealing with the repercussions of wild nights out, or letting past regrets engulf you while life passes you by.
Some of their songs are so heart–wrenching that their tragic elements are undeniable. "El 7 de Septiembre" tells the story of a divorcee on her anniversary of Sept. 7, as she analyzes how two people so in love became strangers. She wonders how the same table that knew their hands entangled is now empty. She wonders how two people promised their lives to each other, only for them to wonder years later if a kiss on the cheek is appropriate. She wonders if the flame of their love may still burn somewhere deep inside them.
But, even when many of their songs center around the unfortunate aspects of life, songs like "No es Serio Este Cementerio" ("This Cemetery Is Not Serious") take a setting as haunting as a graveyard—complete with eerie organ hymns—and turn it into a celebration of life and music. Despite the ruined walls and the fact that everyone is dead there, the cemetery couldn't be more lively. They have pink marble graves, flowers of all colors, and they chant Missa Luba (a common music style in Latin Mass originating from The Democratic Republic of the Congo).
With a gothic–style music video and vibrant dead dancing around, the story feels straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Yet, in true Mecano fashion, the song holds the larger message of not wallowing about death and the inevitable. As Torroja sings, "heaven can wait." In the end, everyone is judged the same despite their background, so we might as well enjoy the Earth while we can.
The group was also successful in conveying subjects considered taboo for the era. The themes of violence in a patriarchal society, the aftermath of drug abuse, and the stigma surrounding homosexuality are all issues brought to light through the characters in their songs.
The global hit "Mujer Contra Mujer" ("Woman Against Woman") describes a man observing his two female friends. They seem very close, holding hands, always side by side, longing for one another—they must be close, he assumes. It takes him awhile to realize the nuances of the situation. The song came to show how unfathomable the concept of two women in love was for the era, and how they could only share their feelings in the shadows.
On the talk show Mentiras Verdaderas La Red, Terroja discusses how this was one of her favorite songs because of how they brought a topic so controversial for the time into the media. They broke out of their typical Spanish audience to record the French version, "Une Femme Avec Une Femme," which placed No. 1 on French Billboards for seven weeks in 1990.
Now it's decades later, and their music is still passed down through generations, appearing in today's mainstream media. Even when the times have changed, we can appreciate the universal feelings of regret, love, and heartbreak that are portrayed in the fantastical tragedies created by Mecano.