Song of the Day Mar 10

March 10, 2024


This month I’m focusing on One Hit Wonders of the 80s.


Today our song is:  99 Luftballons


Wikipedia tells us this about the song:


While at a June 1982 concert by the Rolling Stones in West Berlin, Nena's guitarist Carlo Karges noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, where they looked like strange spacecraft (referred to in the German lyrics as a "UFO"). He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector.

Also cited by the band was a newspaper article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal about five local high school students in 1973 who played a prank to simulate a UFO by launching 99 (one was lost from the original 100) aluminized Mylar balloons attached with ribbons to a traffic flare. The red flame from the flare reflected by the balloons gave the appearance of a large pulsating red object floating over Red Rock Canyon outside the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada.

A direct translation of the title is sometimes given as "Ninety-Nine Air Balloons", but the song became known in English as "Ninety-Nine Red Balloons". The title "99 Red Balloons" almost scans correctly with the syllables falling in the right places within the rhythm of the first line of lyrics, although Neunundneunzig (99) has one syllable more than "ninety-nine".

The lyrics of the original German version tell a story: 99 balloons are mistaken for UFOs, causing a military general officer to send pilots to investigate. Finding nothing but balloons, the pilots put on a large show of fire power. The display of force worries the nations along the borders and the war ministers on each side encourage conflict to grab power for themselves. In the end, a cataclysmic war results from the otherwise harmless flight of balloons and causes devastation on all sides without a victor, as indicated in the denouement of the song: "99 Jahre Krieg ließen keinen Platz für Sieger," which means "99 years of war left no room for victors." The anti-war song finishes with the singer walking through the devastated ruins of the world and finding a single balloon. The description of what happens in the final line of the piece is the same in German and English: "'Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen," or "Think of you and let it go."






Enjoy!




Comments

  1. This was a huge hit and she was considered very sexy until we saw the hairy armpits. Lol she was still sexy but people didn't know that Germans, Austrians and many other Europeans don't shave. At least not back then

    ReplyDelete

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