Terrifying German Culture Hour — The Punk Edition

When one lives together with ones girlfriend who has been socialized in the US, and only caught the occasional glimpse of german TV, there is great fun to be had. At least for me, the girlfriend just kinda suffers through it. We call it „Terrifying German Culture Hour“. This one is about punk rock. In the 80ies, german language punk rock got kinda big — and, on occasions, terrifying.

So, to break you in gently, let me introduce you to Die Toten Hosen, performing a song for the Clockwork Orange stageplay:

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Yes, you got that right: Germans made a stageplay out of that beloved dystopian book, and got a young and eager punk band to provide a live soundtrack. You should get the whole album, it is good stuff, and nicely catches all the different moods and themes of the book.

But an earlier song, and especially the video made for it, put them on the map:

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In case your german isn’t that good, here is a translation of the truly brilliant lyrics, which are repeated quite a few times:

Ice cold Bommerlunder
Bommerlunder, put on ice

Ice cold Bommerlunder
Bommerlunder, put on ice

Add a bread with ham — HAM!
and a bread with eggs — EGGS!

Those are two breads,
one with ham, and one with eggs

That song was the equivalent of the annual summer smash hit, maybe even more so. It still is a big hit at parties, thanks to those easy-to-shout lyrics. To give you perspective, it was such a success that the record label immediately commissioned a remix with Fab Five Freddy, a bona fide New York hip hop artist:

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What you just saw here is a live performance, but of course there exists an official music video. And when I write official, I meant horrible. And with horrible, I mean really really horrible. Seriously, it includes the german punks as cannibals in blackface.

Now, at this point you probably think „ok, wacky germans, business as usual.“ But you fail to grasp the enormity of this band. They fill large sized concert halls and arenas. Not only in Germany, but they also made it big in Argentina:

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Die Toten Hosen isn’t the only german punk band that made it big outside Germany. Their eternal rival, Die Ärzte, made it in Japan, so there are folks who subtitle their songs in japanese:

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But all the glory about Die Ärzte will be covered in another post. Prepare for controversial songs that make fun of bestiality, incest and the alleged domestic abuse perpetrated by the then german chancellor..

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