A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Does Debbie Harry have a penis? Because she certainly has a husky voice...

Allow me to explain.

Above is a video for Korean singer Kim Ah-joong's cover of "Maria" by Blondie. It is also featured in a popular Korean romantic comedy "200-pound Beauty" seen in said video. The song is also severely over-played on Korean commercials, and in turn is parroted ad nauseam by the kids at school, but of course all they sing is the chorus, so day in and day out it's "Mariaaaaa! Ave Mariaaaa!" and ooooh, it makes me wanna cry.

Recently Paul busted out the pipes and began singing it in our last class of the evening. I asked him and the two other girls in the class if they actually knew who sang the original version. One girl who is especially quirky and feisty, and is quickly becoming one of my favorites, said that she had heard it but didn't know the name of the group.

"Blondie," I told her.

"Blondie?" she said, "Teacher, the song sounded so strange! Her voice was so deep... (there was a beat of silence)... she is transgender???"

I don't know if she picked up the word off the internet, if her Dad took her to the Korean staging of "Hedwig & the Angry Inch" I saw advertised on the subway, or if they just finished an unlikely unit in public school on sexual identity, in any case, I laughed away my bad feelings about the song.

Now whenever a student hums that infectious chorus, I'll just giggle about how to impressionable Korean ears, a raspy, druggy voice can make even the most feminine of New Wave sex symbols seem like they're packing a little something extra under that mini-skirt.


Jon Allen said...

oh, so that's why the song was so popular!

I think it's a better chorus than
'Fleece Navidad'
(as I saw on a poster for something a while back)

Anonymous said...

I heard that song about dickity-two thousands times.

Shortly after having seen that fat beauty movie I made my girlfriend listen to the song. She even thought it was a man singing the original. I told her again that it was a woman, and she asked me if I was sure. Poor Blondie.