Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Requiem For Nena



Whenever possible, I try to play imaginary producer. I pick a couple of musicians and imagine what it would be like if I could pair them together in a studio, or in the case of Nena, if I could just rescue her from herself or whoever has been in charge of her career.

Unfortunately, Nena is known primarily for 99 Luft Balloons and not much else. That's because there isn't much else - some middling synth-pop also rans on her first album, and then some dreadful late-90s dips into the Euro-trash and pop-rock pool that did nothing to present her to a new generation.

And maybe that's fine for her... I think in North America, within my social group, the default thinking about European mores goes that the continent is an enlightened little space full of progressive types wielding their pens against globalism (if you're Naomi Klein-inclined - okay, I'm not really friends with those people), or against philistinism (if you're, uh, my friends), forgetting that there is a gigantic lumpen-proletariat that's perfectly content to live on a high-starch, high-carb diet and, um, fight and fuck and lose their teeth just like American hillbillies. I know this, because I've seen them represented in Danish and Dutch movies filmed in digital video.

So, maybe Nena can hustle and do great business on the retro circuit, playing county fairs or whatever the German equivalent is - OktoberFest country fairs.

But, God, her voice! She has such a great throaty, evocative voice - a voice that, had she been born many years prior, would have been used as some siren-like German version of Tokyo Rose... I would have defected, jumped out of that B-52 with a parachute and made it across the Ruhr to Berlin to find it. It's such a shame that we've got 99 Luft Balloons (a great song, don't get me wrong) and nothing else of value to show for those pipes. I mean, at least a Neneh Cherry & Nena duet, rather than (God!) Nena and Kim Wilde?

1 comment:

Mages said...

"Unfortunately, Nena is known primarily for 99 Luft Balloons and not much else. That's because there isn't much else"

so wrong. the first two albums are excellent. this is when nena was a band, similar to how blondie was a band. the 99 luftballons album released in north america was a compilation of the first two german albums. if you listen to the original albums you'll see there was a lot more musical variation to the group.