One-Hit Wonders: “99 Luftballons” by Nena

Although they had many hits back in their native Germany, Nena only hit the U.S. and U.K. once. But what a great song.
Nena 99 Luftballons

The German band Nena was also led by the singer Nena, whose real name was Gabriele Kerner. They hit it big in Germany with their second single “99 Luftballons”, a song about the Cold War, imagining if balloons from the west floated over to the east (separated by a wall at the time, for those who remember) and caused a war. A bit deep for something that just sounded like a funky new-wave tune. Amazingly, it was this German version that became the hit in the U.S., reaching No. 2.

The song was translated into English as “99 Red Balloons” and hit No. 1 in the U.K. Sadly, although Nena continued to have hits in Germany and still perform there, they made no real impact on the U.S. or U.K. charts again. I prefer the original German version:

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