Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Numa Numa

Okay, I admit it: sometimes the stupid crap on the internet really cracks me up. Not too long ago, my friend Dawn introduced me to the Numa Numa guy.

Click on the picture to watch the video.  He's fantastic.

Apparently, he's sparked a cult following. Witness this: a whole class singing and dancing to Numa Numa.

(What really cracks me up about this video is the guy in the back row trying to ignore them and get some work done.  He reminds me of the roommate in the Chinese Backstreet Boys video.)

I, of course, couldn't leave this alone, and so did a little research online and found out that the real name for this song is "Dragostea Din Tei" and it's by a Rumanian band called O-Zone. Figures, right? A song this joyful/angry could only have come out of the Eastern Bloc, and only America could turn it into a cult hit.

So of course I found a video of the band performing it onstage, and it's almost better than the Numa Numa kid.

It's a Rumanian boy band! Who knew? (Actually, I could go for the guy in the black shirt. He looks all ... troubled and angry and happy. He's a little skinny and speaks Rumanian, but I'm sure we could get over our differences, yes?) 

My real fascination with this video, however, is the Rumanian backup dancers.  I mean, the song is very pop-influenced, but the dancers?  They're dancing like gypsies!  Gypsy pop-stars.  Any moment, I expect one of them to pop into the crowd, lift a wallet or two, and then go back to dancing.

My fascination didn't end there.  (Don't you dare laugh at me.  You're reading about my fascination, so you can't laugh.)  So of course I went looking for a translation of the lyrics and found this, from Wikipedia.com:

"Dragostea din tei" is written in Romanian, and the title is difficult to translate due to the lack of context for the phrase. There are several proposed translations of the title, such as Love out of the linden trees... Linden trees have strong lyrical associations in Romanian poetry, tied to the work of the poet Mihai Eminescu. Therefore the expression may be interpreted as romantic, "linden-type" love. A strong link may be to Eminescu's actual linden tree from Iasi, Copou park. 

Another very likely translation takes into account the neighborhood "Tei" in Bucharest, the capital of Romania (in Romanian, "Cartierul Tei"). Since it's a place very popular with college students (several dorms in the area) and youngsters in general, the connection is there ("Love in Tei" as in "Love among young people"). In spring especially, many young pairs can be seen in the parks and streets in Tei, and "love is in the air" — even though it might be love that lasts just for a little while; the song alludes to this.

The third translation comes directly from a native Moldovan. He claims that the title uses a wordplay and simply means "Love at first sight", "dragostea dintâi", in Romanian (i.e. "Love from the linden trees", roughly analogous to "Love from the clear blue sky" in English, with the added associations that linden trees have in the Romanian language). This translation obviously rises above the literal meanings of the words and draws on something more poetic and specific to the language and culture. Given that O-Zone is from Moldova, where Romanian is spoken, it seems quite plausible that this interpretation is accurate. Furthermore, it provides something more universally meaningful, as the idea of love at first sight is understood more globally than the idea of love having to do with linden trees.

Don't you just love that there's somebody in this world who cares enough about a Rumanian pop song to have done this level of research?  Of course, I found that research, so that makes me very nearly as bad.  HOWever, I did not DO the research.  I just googled it.

Well, I did a little research.  Shut up.  I had to, because now I needed to learn more about this poet, this Mihai Eminescu character.  I read some of his poetry, and then I found it:  the linden tree poem. 

by Mihai Eminescu

Come now to the forest's spring
Running wrinkling over the stones,
To where lush and grassy furrows
Hide away in curving boughs.

Then you can run to my open arms,
Be held once more in my embrace,
I'll gently lift that veil of yours
To gaze again upon your face.

And then you can sit upon my knee,
We'll be all alone, alone there,
While the lime tree thrilled with rapture
Showers blossoms on your hair.

Your white brow with those golden curls
Will slowly draw near to be kissed,
Yielding as prey to my greedy mouth
Those sweet, red, cherry lips . . .

We'll dream only happy dreams
Echoed by wind's song in the trees,
The murmur of the lonely spring,
The caressing touch of the gentle breeze.

And drowsy with this harmony
Of a forest bowed deep as in prayer,
Lime-tree petals that hang above us
Will fall sifting higher and higher.

Figures.  It's another damn man in love with a virgin, she of the white veil and white flowers and blah blah blah.  Honestly.  Purity is so overrated.  Of course, this guy is fixated on her "lush and grassy furrows" and her "sweet cherry lips" which makes me think that her virgin state isn't going to last long.

Not to mix my fruit metaphors or anything.

But.  Trust an Eastern European to find an image like the linden tree, which is also known (and I'm not sure why) as a lime tree in Rumania.  Are they the same thing?  I don't know anything about trees really.  All I really know is that they're green.  Until, of course, they turn brown.  Like the virgin.  Sorry,  got off topic.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  If you think about it, a lime is the perfect metaphor for love -- slightly sour, slightly sweet.  Tangy.  Adds a kick to everything.  Yes.  Limes.  I get it.

So then, of course, after all that research, I did the only reasonable thing that a girl like me can do:  I put the song on my iPod.


stefanviktor@yahoo.com said...

dear Cecilia, are you romanian, or moldavian or what are you. because anything u'd be..what u wrote there si a lot of crap. Stop doin this ppl, for fuck's sake please. Go get a life, don't waste your time writting bullshit tryin to make your blog brighter. ist fucked up.sorry. best whishes . Stefan, Oradea, Romania

Cecilia Baader said...

Sorry, Stefan, I'm American.

I guess I'd know better how to respond if I knew what you were talking about.


Anonymous said...

I think you are right. I'm Australian, but like you, I got into the band by that video of the Numa Numa guy. I've only liked them for a short time, but I've become obsessed.

The first thing I watched after that video was the one of O-Zone dancing on stage, which caused the huge liking. You don't want to see my play count for that song :P

That is a great photo of them I must say. They look incredibly...sexually questionable but very nice.

Cheers, Tiffany

Cecilia Baader said...

I know exactly what you mean, and this is precisely the reason that I love them, too. My "allo, salut" boy is too adorable for words. I want to put him in my pocket. My pants pocket.


myerspeter said...

What a great post. Keep going. I'm using it for my English class.
Also, quite well-written.

Anonymous said...

i am absolutely obsessed with this music video NUMA NUMA! then later i did the same thing common sense did...namely spending several hours googling and finding the Romanian boy singers and then finding the lyrics, both Romanian and English, and then finding the poet and the symbolism and metaphors in the poetry. i do not think that you are stupid---remember your blog is entitled Common Sense so you cannot be stupid, rather you are thoughtful and you contemplate much like a philosopher---OH YOU ARE A PHILOSOPHER, just an armchair or computer chair philosopher! you go girl! i totally get you!
please come visit my blog---

Anonymous said...

I just remembered, numa numa sounds really stupid for a romanian, it literaly means 'don'tme don'tme'. Wothout spaces between the words, yes. Fun fact. Nu ma iei means 'you won't take me'.

Somerset Wedding Girl said...

That cracked me up so much! A real internet gem.

Anonymous said...

For the person who said "numa numa" means "don'tme don'tme", you clearly don't know Romanian. It means "only only". The song continues with "numa numa ei" over and over, which means "only only hers". Do research before you speak for us fellow native Romanian speakers.

Grace Ford said...

For what it's worth, you were referring to Arsenie Todiras, who time has favored. He's only gotten more... um, pocketable, with time. Enjoy. http://arseniummusic.com/#media

Grace Ford said...

I believe you're thinking of the word "numai" with that comment. They have another song, Numai Tu, which DOES translate to Only You. "Nu ma iei," however, does translate literally to "don't me take" (meaning, "you don't take me with you"). Therefore, crushing "nu" (don't) and "ma" (me) together does, in fact, produce the rather ridiculous "Numa Numa" (don'tme don'tme).

TameAMorning said...

I just wanted to know if you know anything about these names for Romania historically: Morcala, Ghanala, Mernala, Renela, Laka, Bala, Ghena, Ghenala, Ginser, The Gitsers, Miss Lock, Senser Inter, Ola , Molak, Enela, Onala, Lava, Merlina, Sennela, Inkener, Morkala, Ursala, Sernala, Merka, Versse. They're from something called Romania Underground Lockers. I can't find any more information about it. If not thanks anyway.