The highly anticipated PlayStation game “The Last of Us Part II” is finally here and in the extended commercial released in 2016, we see a bloodied Ellie, the star of this part of the game, playing the guitar. Originally composed by Shawn James, the song “Through the Valley” quickly became no. 1 on Spotify in the U.K. Now, with the release of the game TLoU: P2, the song returns to the public’s attention (who, so far, has made a lot of covers after the song). However, our attention is stolen by a particular version, namely the Romanian one.
Coinciding with the game’s big day, June 19, the song uses Romanian folklore and traditional elements to deliver a message of courage, survival, and emotions layered over a post-apocalyptic world. The cover of Ellie’s Song — already famous — “Prin valea mortii” (“Through the Valley of Death” in English), was made in partnership with the Osoianu Sisters, an Ethno-folkloric ensemble composed of five members born and raised in the Republic of Moldova, who confessed that they were pleasantly surprised by PlayStation’s proposal.
Of so many local artists, the company chose the Osoianu Sisters because their musical repertoire reflects themes similar to the ones found within the game: The strong woman motif, the road to succeeding, and traditional values. Speaking about the project, Iulia Osoianu said to Vice that this was a real challenge for them.
Initially, they received the translation of the song, which they changed a bit while keeping the essence and the real message of the song. Although they were not completely satisfied with the result, those in charge were happy with what the sisters had done with the lyrics. “The big challenge was to adjust and adapt the original song to the structure of the translated text, but especially to the new specific music format. We worked daily, from morning to evening, to understand the text, to analyze the semantics of the lyrics. Honestly, this was a hard song to work on, but in the end, it worked out. We introduced elements of folklore. We worked with the cobza, the panpipe, and the violin, as instruments,” the sisters said.
The artists expressed their feelings regarding the song, saying that it makes them think about consequences, either personal or those of others. Most importantly, it puts us face-to-face with the inevitable end that we shape, based on our experiences during our lifetime. Sure, we all have different paths in life, but we share the same destination, the final one.
Being a true promoter of authentic folklore, the Osoianu Sisters have had several collaborations over time, the most recent being the one with Subcarpati, a musical project that aims to make young people embrace the Romanian folklore. The Guardian describes them as “an explosive mixture of old and new. It’s an eclectic combination that brings together melancholy Romanian folk songs, Romanian unity songs, traditional instruments, and the rhythms of trip-hop, dubstep, hip-hop, and dancehall.”
Although they have been singing since the ’80s, after collaborating with the Subcarpati band, the Osoianu Sisters managed to touch the hearts of thousands of young people, who are currently discovering the real beauty of folklore on modern beats. And, we can’t conclude this story nicer than MC Bean, Subcarpati’s soloist and founder: “The folklore is oxygen for an asthmatic nation!”