99 Red Balloons


“99 dreams I have had, and every one, a red balloon…”

Ah, the 80s… a simpler (though slightly more terrifying) time. We knew who our enemy was, and they knew who we were. Soviet Union, bad. America, good. It was the way the world was, and there, smack in the middle of Europe, was a country (well… TWO countries) that lived it every day. For you see, young ‘uns, there hasn’t always been a a country called Germany. No sir, we had East Germany (booo!) and West Germany (yay!).

In the fall of 1983, a song by a comely 23-year-old fraulein named Nena became the most famous German export since the Volkswagen. Her hit song ’99 Luftballons’ tapped into the world’s fears about communism so perfectly that, well, it just had to be translated into English, and aren’t we all better for it?

In our book, ’99 Red Balloons’ sits firmly in the top five list of one-hit wonders (from the 80s or any other decade). Equal parts message-driven and catchy-as-hell, the tune blasted onto the Billboard charts in late 1983, and it went on to spend more than 23 weeks in the Hot 100, peaking at #2 in March 1984.

As the story goes, Nena’s guitarist was chillin’ at a Rolling Stones concert in Berlin in 1982, when he noticed the crowd releasing balloons into the air. “Hmmm,” he thought to himself. “This could get messy if the wind shifts, and those things end up floating over the Berlin Wall.”

And thus, a song was born.

Nena never enjoyed any other stateside success, but just over five years after the release of ’99 Red Balloons’, the Wall came down, and her tune (thankfully) became more of a novelty than anything else.

So no need to worry, worry, or super-scurry… we can just sit back and be thankful times have changed while we listen to one of our favorite 80s songs.

We ♥ 99 Red Balloons.

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~ by weheart80s on February 16, 2011.

One Response to “99 Red Balloons”

  1. […] “Russians”. (Sure, there’s always “99 Red Balloons”, but we just talked about that a few weeks […]

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