Song Of The Day 4/9/2014: Nena - "?"

Sub-Hit Wonders: Nobody doesn't remember "99 Luftballons," or as they say in English "99 Red Balloons," the giant international song from German singer/actress/waitress Nena. The English and German language versions of the song were a tight little allegory about the devaluation of innocence in an era of trigger-happy militarism. That kind of haltingly emotional work wouldn't work with "37 Green Shovels," or "57 Cobalt Roasting Pans," or "86 Lavender Leisure Suits That Somehow Managed Not To Be Cloying." No, they had to be balloons, there had to be 99 of them, and they had to be luft. (The French version was about peripheral angioplasty, but let's forget about that.) We all danced to "99 Luftballons" at our high school proms and our 2000's wedding receptions, but did we really know what we were dancing about? Did we? Why am I asking you these questions?

Speaking of questions, song number two on Nena's 99 Luftballons was called "?" (Try Googling that.) It has a midtempo '80s pulse with proper sheen, and a saxophone that sounds like it's trying to goad the singer into a physical fight. (Oh, the saxophones of the '80s. Nothing good came from them. We should melt all the saxophones used in '80s rock recordings down and reform the remains into a memorial to be erected near John Hughes' gravesite. "NEVER AGAIN" the epitaph shall read.) I don't think "?" is a tribute to the lead singer of the Mysterians, but to get my conceptual rocks off I'd love to see !!! cover the song.

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