Monday, October 05, 2009

'80s Monday: Eurotrash edition

Not every song I listened to during the '80s was from the UK, or even in English. Here are some of the European bands I listened to during the '80s: Nina Hagen, Trio, Nena, Falco, and Plastic Bertrand.

"My Way" by Nina Hagen (1978)
Nina Hagen was born in East Germany, and became a pop star there, but she was allowed to leave after her stepfather got kicked out for political activism. On her application to emigrate to West Germany, she said she'd be even more trouble than her stepfather was if they didn't let her go. Her application was approved. She soon traveled to London to learn about Western culture. While she was there, she met the Sex Pistols...

"Da, Da, Da" by Trio (1982)
Trio was a pretty much a one-hit wonder even in Germany, but their one hit was a hit in about 30 countries. (It was also used in an American Volkswagen commercial during the late '90s.) It's a strange song, and an even stranger video, but (or so) I like it a lot. Also, if you can spot the guy in the white t-shirt dancing around in the background sometimes, that's totally how I used to dance in the '80s.

"99 Luftballons" by Nena (1983)
The English version, "99 Red Balloons," reached number 2 on the US charts. Most people seemed to think of it as just a cute song about balloons, but it was actually an anti - Cold War protest song. (I've noticed many times that most people seem to pay much less attention to song lyrics than I do.)

"Der Kommissar" by Falco (1982)
Falco had a number 1 hit in the US with "Rock Me Amadeus," but I like this song better. An English version by the UK band After the Fire is better known, but I'm all about authenticity, so here's Falco's original.

"Ça plane pour moi" by Plastic Bertrand (1977)

I feel a little guilty posting this, because it's actually kind of a rip-off of the original version, Elton Motello's explicit gay-boy anthem "Jet Boy, Jet Girl." The original was extremely daring, and apparently has meant a lot to many gay teens over the years. Bertrand's version is completely watered down and has nothing to do with teh gay anyway. It's pretty "plastic," frankly.
But I didn't know all that when I first heard it. "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" was too explicit to get played on the radio or MTV, so I didn't even know the song existed until I heard the Damned's version a few years later. "Ça plane pour moi" was just a catchy pop song to me. And it'll still fill a dance floor in a hurry.

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