Who the Hell Was "Mr. Saxobeat" Anyway?

We went in search of the mysterious figure who inspired one of the decade's most enduring Eurodance anthems.

Feb 21 2017, 4:49pm

This post ran originally on THUMP UK.

Man is a curious animal. We wander through the labyrinth of life hoping to discover some kind of ontological truth. Ever since our ancestors developed the ability to stand upright, the question and the attendant quest for an answer has been our be all and end all. There are big questions—Why are we here? What's the point of life? What happens when we die?—and small questions—What's so great about parma ham?—knotty questions—Are BOGOF deals in Morrisons every worth buying?—and then, finally, the questions we forget to ask. One of those is this: who the hell was Mr. Saxobeat?

Mr. Saxobeat stumbled onto our dismal island just a few months before the riots that ran rampant in the summer of 2011. By the time tensions had simmered over and tellies were being thrown into the backs of patiently-waiting minivans, Saxobeat had slunk off back to eastern Europe, leaving nothing behind but the faintest memory of his brief and fleeting existence.

We'll never know what he made of us as a people, as a place, of the conclusion of Operation Telic or Swansea's promotion to the Premier League, or ITV dropping Taggart after 28 years on the airwaves. And we can't know any of that because we truly, sadly, never really knew who he was in the first place.

It was Romanian popstar Alexandra Stan who dropped the mysterious Mr on British shores, thanks to her catchy slab of easy to swallow Eurodance named after the man himself. That song—a Balkanized club ballad—has immortalized its recipient, entombed him in cultural aspic. But who is this man, and what attracted Stan to him in the first place?

The first place we need to look for clues, for any sign of life, for any evidence, however scant, of actuality, is the vehicle in which he washed up in. If you've not thought about "Mr. Saxobeat" since you last thought about Yolanda Be Cool's "We No Speak Americano," then you're a luckier man than I. Still, refresh your memory and jump into the often-unpalatable murk of the recent past and let the browns and oranges of muddy memory wash over you. As you emerge, eyes open and lungs gasping, letting the song ring out into the cool afternoon. You'll forget the future ever happened, and you'll be back to being whoever you were way back when, and you'll find yourself singing, shouting, screaming, and you'll be carefree. You'll be alive; you've been resuscitated by Mr. Saxobeat, and you can't stop chanting over and over and over and over:

You make me this, bring me up, bring me down, plays it sweet
Make me move like a freak, Mr. Saxobeat
Makes me this, brings me up, brings me down, plays it sweet
Makes me move like a freak, Mr. Saxobeat
You make me this, bring me up, bring me down, plays it sweet
Make me move like a freak, Mr. Saxobeat
Makes me this, brings me up, brings me down, plays it sweet
Makes me move like a freak, Mr. Saxobeat

Mr. Saxobeat, then, certainly made an impression on Stan. For her, the record would suggest at least, he is the physical embodiment of desire's freeing properties. She notes that he makes her move like a "freak," a word that sings two very different songs, depending on the context we see it applied to. Here the word is a redolent of sexual abandonment, a kind of stand-in for the idea of possession by another as a means of self-exploration and ultimately self-reclamation. In other words—he's good at shagging. Really good at shagging.

He's not just a legendary swordsman, though. Stan goes on to give us another clue as to who this guy she described on stage once as her "vision of the perfect man," is. The second verse informs us that he's a "sexy boy" who can set Stan "free," but that he's just as "shy" as he is "dirty." Mr. Saxobeat, so it would seem, contains multitudes.

Song, however, like a badly done biography, can only take us so far. We had to try and track him down. We were searching for Saxoman.

Getting to Romania to put in the necessary groundwork proved a harder sell to my bosses than I'd anticipated. "Why," I was asked, "do you want to go to Romania, and more importantly why are you working on the basis that we will pay for bed and board?" Sadly for me, my bumbled and fumbled response about "Eurodance intrigue," "the mysteries of love," and the "eternal suffering of the unrequited lover who pines like a bereaved dog for an owner who'll never return," went down like a shit-filled balloon, and my dreams of the east quickly became nothing more than spilt borscht.

So instead of gallivanting around Stan's home city of Constanța, I had to put the (virtual) work in online. Armed with nothing more than crap coffee, some couscous, and the rapacious need to unmask the inspiration behind a saxophone-heavy eastern European club-pop record that was never actually that good in the first place, I set about turning my desk into a missing person's bureau.

The only question I wanted answering, the only question really worth asking—other than "why the fuck are you actually doing this?"—was proving difficult to get to the bottom of. There was no Saxobeat in the Romanian tax office or the city library or the list of registered gymnasium users. He didn't appear in any microfiles, or in football team fan societies. He didn't emerge on Facebook, wasn't lurking in any of the digital nooks and unreal crannies I craned my neck into. I was at a dead end, facing the bleak prospect of returning home without my man.

After a night of frantic (soul) searching, I admitted defeat. He'd managed to avoid me. He'd scampered into long Black Sea night, never to be found. I had been conned, rooked, ripped-off. I'd been a fool, led astray by the warping artifice of art itself, carried away by my own need to possess a truth which never existed in the first place.What I was left with was a chasm, a gaping hole, a dark and lonely void. There was no Mr. Saxobeat any more than there's a Batman. He was the mental invention of a lonely artist. He will live on forever, purely because he never existed in the first place.

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