Der Kommissar (song)

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"Der Kommissar (The Commissioner)"
Single by Falco
from the album Einzelhaft
B-side "Helden Von Heute (Alles Wartet Auf) (Today's Heroes)"
Released 1981
Format 7" vinyl single; 12" vinyl single
Recorded 1981
Genre Synthpop
Length 3:51
Label GIG, A&M
Writer(s) Robert Ponger, Falco
Producer(s) Robert Ponger
Falco singles chronology
"That Scene"
(1981)
"Der Kommissar"
(1981/82)
"Auf der Flucht"
(1982)
"Der Kommissar"
Single by After the Fire
from the album Der Kommissar a/k/a ATF
B-side "Dancing in the Shadows"
Released 1982
Format 7" vinyl single; 12" vinyl single
Recorded 1982
Genre New wave, pop rock
Length 4:03
Label Epic
Writer(s) Robert Ponger, Falco, Andy Piercy
Producer(s) John Eden, After the Fire
After the Fire singles chronology
"Rich Boys"
(1982)
"Der Kommissar"
(1982)
"Dancing in the Shadows"
(1983)
"Deep in the Dark"
Single by Laura Branigan
from the album Branigan 2
B-side "I'm Not The Only One"
Released 1983
Format 7" vinyl single; 12" vinyl single
Recorded 1983
Genre New wave, pop rock
Length 3:54
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Original music & lyrics: Robert Ponger, Falco;
English lyrics: Bill Bowersock
Producer(s) Jack White
Laura Branigan singles chronology
Gloria
(1982)
Deep in the Dark
(1983)
Solitaire
(1983)

"Der Kommissar" is a song first recorded by Falco in Austria in 1981, covered a year later by After the Fire and reworked in 1983 by Laura Branigan. Originally written by Robert Ponger and Falco, the Falco version reached the top of the charts in many countries.

After the Fire's version featured English lyrics by the band's Andy Piercy. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Background[edit]

Originally written by producer Robert Ponger for Reinhold Bilgeri, Bilgeri turned it down as he felt the song was too soft, so Falco reworked the song for himself instead.

Falco wanted to release "Helden von heute" as the main side (A-side), but the record company wanted "Der Kommissar" ("the commissioner" or police captain) to be released, because they felt it had more potential. The record company decided upon a double A-side release and was vindicated when "Der Kommissar" reached No. 1 in German-speaking countries in January 1982. After this big success, Falco's management decided to release "Der Kommissar" (as an A-side) in other countries as well.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, Falco's hit didn't fare as well, despite topping charts throughout Europe and Scandinavia during spring and summer 1982. In the summer of 1982 the British rock band After the Fire recorded an English version of the song, also called "Der Kommissar", and released it as a single, but the record floundered. Coming off a tour opening for Van Halen, After the Fire was working on material for a new album when in December 1982 the group announced onstage during a concert that they were breaking up. Both the After the Fire and Falco versions were rising on the Canadian charts at the time, but neither had cracked the U.S. pop charts.

Around that time, American pop singer Laura Branigan began working on her second album, and recorded a new song written over the melody and arrangement of "Der Kommissar", called "Deep in the Dark", which was prepared for release, when the After the Fire version finally hit the U.S. charts (Hot 100) on February 22, 1983, and started rising. Though the UK band's version barely nicked their home country's Top 50, in 1983 the song ultimately rose to No. 5 in the U.S., where their music video was an MTV hit.

The song entered the American Top 40 (AT40) on March 5, 1983, peaked at No. 5, and remained in the AT40 for a total of 14 weeks. The hit single was released under the Epic label, with a catalog number of 03559.

Amidst all this renewed attention to the composition, Falco's own version, which had done well in some U.S. markets but not charted nationally, was re-released, but the German-language record remained essentially a novelty hit there, charting concurrently with the After the Fire version but not rising above No. 78. In Canada, Falco's version had peaked at No. 11 the same late-January week that After the Fire's version peaked at No. 12. After the Fire's record company, CBS, pleaded with the band to regroup, but to no avail. While UK promos for "Deep in the Dark" were pressed (the After the Fire version missed the UK top 40 and the Falco version didn't even chart there), Branigan's record company, Atlantic, officially released "Solitaire" in the U.S., where that song went to No. 7.

Falco single[edit]

Der Kommissar/Helden von heute is a double-A-side single by Falco released in Austria and Germany in December 1981. "Der Kommissar" reached the top of the Charts in many countries. The song recorded for other side of the record, the pop-rock "Helden von heute" (meaning "heroes of today"), is a tribute to David Bowie's "Heroes". Recorded in Berlin, Germany, Falco claimed in an interview that he went to Berlin to follow the "tracks" left there by David Bowie, with his albums Heroes and Low.

In his official music video for "Der Kommissar", Falco flees from the police, with several police cars in the background. There is another, lesser-known, video for the Falco single.[1]

"Der Kommissar (The Commissioner)" only reached No. 74 in the US Cash Box Charts in 1983[2] and did not even chart in the UK, but Falco would break through with major hits in those countries two albums later, with "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Vienna Calling" in 1986.

Updated remixes of "Der Kommissar" were released by Falco in 1991, 1998, and posthumously in 2008.

Cover versions and tributes[edit]

  • After the Fire recorded a 1982 English-language translation of "Der Kommissar" which was a Top 5 hit in the U.S.
  • Laura Branigan's "Deep in the Dark" from Branigan 2 is a 1983 English-language song written over the melody and hooks of Falco and Ponger's "Der Kommissar"
  • The Squids recorded a punk rock version of "Der Kommissar" in 1996 and titled it "Don't Turn Around".
  • Dale Bozzio, the lead singer of Missing Persons recorded "Der Kommissar" in 2007 for her solo project.
  • Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung
  • Gimme 5
  • Lajos Túri's Hungarian cover "A felügyelő"
  • Matthew Gonder recorded an English-language translation of "Der Kommissar" also in 1982, as well as a French version.
  • Trent Reznor's first band Option 30
  • Suzy Andrews; X Records, 1982 Produced by Peter Hauke, Distributed by Rocshire Records
  • Brazilian band Comunidade Nin-jitsu made a parody of the song, called "Rap do Trago".
  • Finnish industrial metal band Itä-Saksa (translates East Germany) recorded a cover on their last album Man the Machines (2000).
  • Ronnie Jones recorded "Don't Turn Around (The Kommissar)" in 1982 which is a popular English language translation.

Chart performance[edit]

Falco version[edit]

Year (1981/1982/1983) Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Australian Singles Chart 7
Canadian Singles Chart 11
France Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 1
Italy Singles Chart 1
Japan Singles Chart 1
Norway Singles Chart 3
Netherlands Singles Chart 18
New Zealand Singles Chart 4
Spain Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 4
Swiss Singles Chart 2
U.S. Cash Box Singles 74

After the Fire version[edit]

Year (1983) Peak
position
Canadian Singles Chart 12
South African Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 47
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5

Year-end chart (After the Fire version)[edit]

Chart (1983) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 30


In popular culture[edit]

A brief portion of the song is played in German Guy, an episode of Family Guy, to a puppet of Chris dancing in a similar style to Falco in the music video of the song.[3] Chris describes this as "The Germanest thing [he's] ever seen", despite Falco being Austrian.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ_m4_wnPNw
  2. ^ Cash Box Magazine (1983-04-23). "Cash Box Top 100 4/23/83". Cashboxmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  3. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCfehiAYLIs

External links[edit]