Top Of The Pops Thursday: Nena – 99 Red Balloons / 99 Luftballons


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Earlier this week, you may recall, I waxed lyrical about the allure of Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers In The 25th Century and the impression she made on the young Choob (and, indeed a generation of youthful males… and, no doubt, a few females).

However, the truth is that Wilma came along a little early in my life to make that kind of impression and it was only watching repeats a few years later that she really became indelibly stamped on my psyche. Wearing that white, skin-tight flightsuit…

However, there was someone who come along at just the right time to qualify as the Choob’s bona fide first celebrity crush. And she was German!

Yes, it was Nena. Singer of that famous anti-balloon protest song (as Kenneth the page said in this week’s episode of 30 Rock).

She appeared out of nowhere in 1984. I think I saw her first on Top Of The Pops (99 Red Balloons – original German title 99 Luftballons – had reached No.1 in the UK charts).

She was also showcased in a memorable BBC Sight And Sound In Concert televised gig around the same time.

I know what you’re thinking – aren’t all televised gigs in sight and sound?

Well, yes, but back in 1984, TV broadcasts were still in mono but the Beeb had pioneered the (short-lived) innovation of broadcasting concerts on TV, synchronised with a Stereo FM radio broadcast (or “simulcast“) of the audio.

So, if your hi-fi (as they were called in those days) was in the same room as the TV, you could turn the volume down on the telly and crank up the radio and – voila – stereo TV, years before NICAM broadcasts started.

I can’t begin to tell you how besotted the 15-year-old Choob was with Nena – hairy armpits and all! – after seeing her in that televised concert, even though all the songs were in German.

I immediately resolved to go to see her on tour when she came to Glasgow. But alas, she never came (or if she did, I missed it). I never did see her live on stage. All I had was hazy memories of that BBC sight and sound concert.

Until YouTube came along, that is!

I can’t be 100 per cent sure but I am as certain as I can be that this is from that Sight and Sound broadcast – trust me, the leather trousers and black T-shirt combo are etched in my memory, even after quarter of a century…:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And in the interests of completeness, here is the English version of the song, from Top Of The Pops:

Nena was destined to be a one-hit wonder in the UK and the US (and several other countries) but she is still releasing albums and touring in Germany and Europe – the above two pics without the legwarmers are from a gig in 2008 – she’s still got it!

Still not come to Glasgow though. Sigh…

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7 Comments

Filed under Top Of The Pops Thursday

7 responses to “Top Of The Pops Thursday: Nena – 99 Red Balloons / 99 Luftballons

  1. Davey Coyle

    Ah, the cultivated continental oxter hair. Truly a magnificient day for us when she raised that arm and let us see her growth.

  2. Indeed! Truly a moment of hellacious hirsute hedonism.

    It’s sort of like a JFK moment for our generation. Sort of…

  3. Pingback: And Then There Were Fifty Thousand! « The Cathode Ray Choob

  4. …check out the punk rock version by goldfinger…

  5. Was a babe – still is a babe! She’s certainly aged better than I have….
    I think your first clip was a CBS record company promo. On Sight and Sound she was wearing zebra trousers and a grey T-shirt with her own face on it. http://tinyurl.com/6fdqog5

  6. Jeff

    I just stumbled across this while watching “top 100 women’s songs of the 80’s” – she was number 43. I remember the song from the 80’s but could not recollect her hairy underarms. However, I noticed them straight away this time. It was one of the sexiest sights I have ever seen. And she can sing too. I wish she was number 1, but that was Madonna with Like a Prayer.

  7. MikeO3

    @Jeff: Madonna had a hairy pussy in the 80’s…

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