99 Red Balloons

This song sprang into my mind the other day. It’s quite a bouncy song and like most songs the lyrics pass by quite quickly. Given Nena are German (Nena is the name of the band, as well as the lead singer) the English lyrics are doubly hard to take in compared to normal 80s pop, but if you do listen you’ll find it’s actually a quite biting anti-war lyric.

The original song was in German, but it was picked up in the US and England so they wrote some new fluffier lyrics in English. The English version tells much the same story, but is not a direct translation of the original. The lyrics are dreamier and two of the verses appear to have been switched so the song can creshendo on tales of Jet Fighter pilots imagining they are Captain Kirk, and the explosions they create.

I’ve since learned the English version Song has been covered in a US garage rock type band called Gold Finger. And in deference to Nena they swap the penultimate verse of the English one out and sing the penultimate verse of the German one. But this means that they’re actually singing the verse about the war ministers twice and missing out any mention of Captain Kirk. Or perhaps that was the point.

Anyway it amused me and I thought I would share.


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