99 Luftballons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from 99 Luftballoons)
Jump to: navigation, search
"99 Luftballons"
99 Luftballons single cover.jpg
Single by Nena
from the album Nena and 99 Luftballons
Released
  • 1983 (West Germany)
  • 1984 (United Kingdom)
Format
Genre Neue Deutsche Welle
Length 3:53
Label Epic
Songwriter(s)
Nena singles chronology
"Nur geträumt"
(1982)
"99 Luftballons"
(1983)
"Leuchtturm"
(1983)
"Nur geträumt"
(1982)
"99 Luftballons"
(1983)
"Leuchtturm"
(1983)
Audio sample

"99 Luftballons" (German: Neunundneunzig Luftballons, "99 balloons") is an anti-war protest song by the German band Nena from their 1983 self-titled album. An English-language version titled "99 Red Balloons", with lyrics by Kevin McAlea, was also released on the album 99 Luftballons in 1984 after widespread success of the original in Europe and Japan. The English version is not a direct translation of the German original and contains somewhat different lyrics.[1]

Lyrics[edit]

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.[2]

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".[3][4] 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: "red" partially replacing a flourish of the singer before "Luft". Neunundneunzig (99) has one syllable more than "ninety-nine", so the last syllable and "Luft" are blended in the English translation and become "red".

The lyrics of the original German version tell a story: 99 balloons are mistaken for UFOs, causing a general to send pilots to investigate. Finding nothing but child's balloons, the pilots decide to put on a show and shoot them down. The display of force worries the nations along the borders and the war ministers on each side bang the drums of conflict to grab power for themselves. In the end, a 99-year war results from the otherwise harmless flight of balloons, causing devastation on all sides without a victor. At the end, the singer walks through the devastated ruins and lets loose a balloon, watching it fly away.[5]

According to David Frum, the political context of the song was the protests against NATO nuclear missile deployments.[6]

Video[edit]

The promotional video was shot in a Dutch military training camp, the band performing the song on a stage in front of a backdrop of fires and explosions provided by the Dutch army. Towards the end of the video, the band are seen taking cover and abandoning the stage which was unplanned and genuine since they believed the explosive blasts were getting out of control.[7]

English version and other re-recordings[edit]

The English version retains the spirit of the original narrative, but many of the lyrics are translated poetically rather than directly translated: red helium balloons are casually released by an anonymous civilian into the sky and are registered as missiles by a faulty early warning system; the balloons are mistaken for military aircraft which results in panic and eventually nuclear war.[5]

From the outset Nena and other members of the band expressed disapproval for the English version of the song, "99 Red Balloons". In March 1984, the band's keyboardist and song co-writer Uwe Fahrenkrog Petersen said, "We made a mistake there. I think the song loses something in translation and even sounds silly."[8] In another interview that month the band including Nena herself were quoted as being "not completely satisfied" with the English version since it was "too blatant" for a group not wishing to be seen as a protest band.[9] Despite having given in excess of 500 concerts over a period of more than 30 years, Nena has never sung "99 Red Balloons" live, even at her rare concerts in England, always performing the German version instead.[10][not in citation given]

There have been two re-recordings of the original German version of the song which have been released by Nena: a modern version in 2002 which was included on Nena feat. Nena (2002)[11] and a retro version in 2009,[12] which included some verses in French.

Live recordings of the song are included on all six of Nena's live albums, dating from 1995 to 2016.[13][14]

Reception[edit]

American and Australian audiences preferred the original German version, which became a very successful non-English language song, topping charts in both countries, reaching no. 1 on the Cash Box chart, Kent Music Report, and no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind "Jump" by Van Halen.[15] It was certified Gold by the RIAA.

The later-released English translation, "99 Red Balloons", topped the charts in the UK, Canada and Ireland.

VH1 Classic, an American cable television station, ran a charity event for Hurricane Katrina relief in 2006. Viewers who made donations were allowed to choose which music videos the station would play. One viewer donated $35,000 for the right to program an entire hour and requested continuous play of "99 Luftballons" and "99 Red Balloons" videos. The station broadcast the videos as requested from 2:00 to 3:00 pm EST on 26 March 2006.[16]

In his 2010 book Music: What Happened?, critic and musician Scott Miller declared that the song possesses "one of the best hooks of the eighties" and listed it among his top song picks for 1984. Nonetheless, he cautioned: "It must be admitted that this song suffers from an embarrassingly out-of-place disco funk interlude, and the word kriegsminister."[17]

Chart positions[edit]

German version[edit]

English version[edit]

2002 re-release[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[55] 17
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[56] 82
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[57] 77

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "99 Red Balloons – interview with the writer, Kevin McAlea". Eighty-eightynine. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Rolling Stone, 15 March 1984
  3. ^ "The New English-German Dictionary: "Luftballon"". Retrieved 2 June 2007. balloon -- der Luftballon [dead link]
  4. ^ "The New English-German Dictionary: "Balloon"". Retrieved 2 June 2007. balloon -- der Ballon, balloon -- der Luftballon [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "99 Luftballons, Side by Side Comparison". In the 80s. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  6. ^ [https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/trump-nato-germany/528429/ Trump's Trip Was a Catastrophe for U.S.-Europe Relations, David Frum, The Atlantic, May 28, 2017
  7. ^ Brendel, Rolf (2014). Nena – Geschichte einer Band. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. p. 131-5. ISBN 978-3-35105-015-3. 
  8. ^ "A very good group from Germany". No.1. 17 March 1984. p. 38. 
  9. ^ Strike, Andy (10 March 1984). "99 Red Herrings". Record Mirror. p. 14. 
  10. ^ "Nena tours and setlists". Nena.de. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Nena feat. Nena – 20 Jahre by Nena". iTunes DE. Apple Inc. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "99 Luftballons – Single by Nena". iTunes US. Apple Inc. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "99 Luftballons". Nena.de. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Live at SO36". Nena.de. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  15. ^ "March 3, 1984 – The Hot 100". Billboard. 3 March 1984. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "VH1 Classic to Air the Classic 80s Music Video '99 Luftballons' for an Entire Hour on Sunday, 26 March" (Press release). VH1 Classic. PR Newswire. 22 March 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Miller, Scott (2010). Music: What Happened?. Alameda, CA: 125 Books. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-61538-196-1. 
  18. ^ "Australia No. 1 hits -- 1980's". Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 2013-06-12. . World Charts.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Nena – 99 Luftballons" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Nena – 99 Luftballons" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  21. ^ "MusicSeek.info – UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits". Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-14. . Cash Box magazine.
  22. ^ a b "Offiziellecharts.de – Nena – 99 Luftballons". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Japan #1 IMPORT DISKS by Oricon Hot Singles". Hbr3.sakura.ne.jp. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 13, 1983" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  25. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Nena – 99 Luftballons" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  26. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Nena – 99 Luftballons". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Nena – 99 Luftballons". VG-lista. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  28. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  29. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Nena – 99 Luftballons". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  30. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Nena – 99 Luftballons". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  31. ^ "Nena – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Nena. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Nena – Awards". Archived from the original on 28 May 2016. Retrieved 2013-06-26. . AllMusic. All Media Network.
  33. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MARCH 10, 1984". Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-17. . Cash Box.
  34. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1983" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  36. ^ (German) "Jahrescharts – 1983". Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 2016-08-12. . Cash Box magazine.
  37. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1983" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1983" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  39. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1983" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  40. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  41. ^ "TOP – 1984" (in French). Top-france.fr. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  42. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1984". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1984". Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 2017-03-31. . Cash Box magazine.
  44. ^ "Les Singles / Titres Certifiés "Or"" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  45. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes "Tout Temps" de 45 T. / Singles / Téléchargement" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  46. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Nena; '99 Luftballons')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  47. ^ "American single certifications – Nena – 99 Luft Ballons". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  48. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4454." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  49. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Nena". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  50. ^ "Archive Chart: 1984-03-03" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  51. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (N)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  52. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1984". RPM. Vol. 41 no. 17. 5 January 1985. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  53. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Nena – 99 Red Balloons". Music Canada. 
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Nena – 99 Red Balloons". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter 99 Red Balloons in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  55. ^ "[2002&cat=s Ultratop.be – Nena – 99 Luftballons [2002]"] (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  56. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Nena – 99 Luftballons" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  57. ^ "[2002&cat=s Swisscharts.com – Nena – 99 Luftballons [2002]"]. Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 4 June 2013.