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Münchener Freiheit live in concert at Alte Oper Erfurt in March 2006.
Neue Deutsche Welle
|Members||Tim Wilhelm |
|Past members||Stefan Zauner |
Münchener Freiheit (known sometimes simply as Freiheit) is a German pop and rock band that had released seventeen albums by 2007, six of which have gone gold and have sold over five million copies in Europe. They are named after a square in the city of Munich in Germany, meaning "Munich liberty". It is considered part of the Neue Deutsche Welle musical movement.
They are best known in the English-speaking world for their single "Keeping the Dream Alive". This song became a #14 hit single in the UK Singles Chart when released in December 1988, making Münchener Freiheit a one-hit wonder there. Due to its December release and rich orchestral sound, "Keeping the Dream Alive" still receives a lot of airplay at Christmas time and can be found included on many Christmas compilation albums. In the United States the song failed to chart there when it was originally released, gaining favour with the American public only after it was featured in the soundtrack for the movie Say Anything.... The single has received additional exposure in the United States thanks to the singing talent contest American Idol on the Fox television network. The song has been used in recent seasons as a backdrop to video montages featuring contestants on the programme.
The early years
The band, composed of Stefan Zauner (vocals, keyboards), Aron Strobel (guitar and vocals), Rennie Hatzke (drums), Michael Kunzi (bass and vocals), and Alex Grünwald (keyboard), formed in the early 1980s. Their first album Umsteiger, released in 1982, was a 'rough-around-the-edges' form of new wave showing an aggressive side to Zauner's otherwise smooth vocals. This was followed a year later by Licht, which took them in a more 'synthpop' direction. The band's next album Herzschlag einer Stadt in 1984 was a more commercial new wave record which spawned a Top 30 hit in Germany, Oh Baby.
The band's first big hit album came in 1986 with Von Anfang an, meaning From the Beginning. Living up to its title, the album contained a selection of new singles, a previously unreleased live version of "Zeig mir die Nacht" (from Umsteiger), two remixes and the occasional track from their previous two albums. Its success was due largely to its two original hit singles, Ohne Dich (schlaf' ich heut' nacht nicht ein) and Tausendmal Du.
The international years
Following the success of Von Anfang an and its follow-up, Traumziel, the band aimed for international success and began recording tracks from both albums in English. The result was Romancing in the Dark, containing English version of six tracks from Traumziel plus their three biggest German hits. The majority of the English lyrics were written by the band themselves with some assistance from outside lyricists. (Later the band relied on English lyrics written by professional lyricists Tim Touchton and Curtis Briggs.) The album was released throughout Europe, and there were big hits in Greece (where Every Time was a No. 1 single), Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.
In 1988, Münchener Freiheit released Fantasie in Germany and its English counterpart, Fantasy. Unlike Romancing in the Dark, Fantasy contained all tracks from its German counterpart. The album went un-noticed throughout the US but was moderately successful in Europe. Freiheit never again released an English album in the US. However, in their homeland, Fantasie (DE#4) was a great success spending eight weeks in the Top 10 and spawning two Top 15 singles: "So lang' man Träume noch leben kann" and "Bis wir uns wiederseh'n". "Keeping the Dream Alive" is the English-language version of So lang' man Träume noch leben kann. This single became the band's sole hit in the UK, reaching number 14 in the UK singles chart in December 1988.
Their follow-up, Purpurmond, was the last album to be re-recorded in English under the title Love is No Science. Nine of its eleven tracks were re-recorded in English, along with a second re-recording of "Tausendmal Du", this time entitled "All I Can Do".
1991 to present
Although 1991 was a quiet year for the band, Zauner and Strobel were still active, releasing the album Living in the Sun under the name of Deuces Wild. The album was recorded in English with most of the lyrics written by Tim Touchton, who had worked with the band since Fantasy.
Despite the moderate reception of Purpurmond, the band returned to the German Top 10 in 1992 with Liebe auf den ersten Blick, earning a Top 15 hit with the title track. The band also represented their country in the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 18th place with their song, "Viel zu weit". The band returned a year later with the album Energie (1994), which gave them another Top 30 album in Germany, although their next two albums, Entführ' mich (1996) and Schatten (1998; with a sleeve design by Klaus Voormann), failed to chart at all.
Leaving Sony Music for the EastWest label, the band moved towards conventional dance-pop on their next album, Freiheit die ich meine (2000). The album saw the band re-enter the German Top 50 following their two album absence. The band changed labels again to Koch International, releasing the albums Wachgeküsst (2002) and Geile Zeit (2004). Although these albums used a similar 'radio-friendly' formula to Freiheit die ich meine, both albums peaked in the lower regions of the German Top 100.
Münchener Freiheit continue to record and tour, celebrating their 25th anniversary with the Double CD retrospective Alle Jahre, Alle Hits (2005) and a new single, "Du bist das Leben". Stefan Zauner left the band in 2012 to pursue producing solo-albums; his latest CD is Zeitgefühl (2012). Tim Wilhelm replaced Zauner as a singer in the band.
German-language studio albums
- Umsteiger (Changer) (1982)
- Licht (Light) (1983)
- Herzschlag einer Stadt (Heartbeat of a City) (1984)
- Traumziel (Dream Destination) (1986)
- Fantasie (Fantasy) (1988)
- Purpurmond (Magenta Moon) (1989)
- Liebe auf den ersten Blick (Love at First Sight)(1992)
- Energie (Energy) (1994)
- Entführ' mich (Kidnap Me) (1996)
- Schatten (Shadows) (1998) (with CD artwork by Klaus Voorman)
- Freiheit die ich meine (Freedom That I Mean) (2000)
- Wachgeküsst (Kissed Awake) (2002)
- Geile Zeit (Great Time) (2004)
- XVII (17) (Jan. 2007)
- Eigene Wege (Own Ways) (2009)
- Ohne Limit (Without Limit) (2010)
German-language live albums
- Von Anfang an (1986)
- Ihr großten hits (1992)
- Schenk mir eine Nacht (1994)
- Definitive Collection (1997/1998)
- Simply the Best (1999) (Re-released as Tausendmal Du in 2001)
- Alle Jahre, Alle Hits (2005)
English-language studio albums
- "Every Time" available on 7" and 12"
- "Play It Cool" available on 7", 12", and CD
- "Baby It's You" available on 7" and CD
- "Back To The Sunshine" available on 7" (South Africa, promotion only)
- "Keeping the Dream Alive" available on 7", 12", cassette, CD, and promo CD
- "Kissed You in the Rain" available on 7", 12", cassette, CD, and promo CD (contains exclusive remix)
- "Diana" available on 7", cassette, and Promo CD (contains 3:35 edit)
- "All I Can Do" available on 7", 12", and 3-inch-CD
- Universal-music.de: Tim Wilhelm ist neuer Sänger der Münchener Freiheit, 1 March 2012.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 214. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
with "Träume sind für alle da"
| Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest
with "Wir geben 'ne Party"