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Here’s German new wave band Nena and their 1984 international hit “99 Luftballons,” which went to No. 1 in 10 countries (and No. 2 in America).

The song’s English and German lyrics differ, but its story is the same – 99 balloons are released into the air, thus provoking a massive military overreaction from the world’s superpowers.

Nena herself didn’t actually write the song. It was composed by by Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, her keyboardist, while guitarist Carlo Karges drafted the lyrics. Karges came up with the idea for the song after watching balloons being released into the air at a 1982 Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin.

Oh … and for those of you don’t speak German, “99 Luftballoons” means “99 Air Balloons,” not “99 Red Balloons.” Red in German is “Rot.”

Oh, and here’s Nena today – 26 years after her band’s big hit …


You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got
Set them free at the break of dawn
Til one by one, they were gone
Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message, something’s out there
Floating in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by

99 red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where 99 red balloons go by

99 Decision street
99 ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we’ve waited for
This is it boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by

99 knights of the air
Ride super high tech jet fighters
Everyone’s a super hero
Everyone’s a Captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify, and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by

99 dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It’s all over and I’m standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go

Previously …
Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”
Beck – “Loser”
Ben Folds Five – “Rockin’ The Suburbs”
Billy Ward & The Dominoes – “Sixty Minute Man”
The Black Crowes – “Wiser Time”
B.O.B. – “Nothing On You”
Coolio – “Fantastic Voyage”
Cypress Hill – “Rock Superstar”
The Cure – “Burn”
Eminem (ft. Rihanna) – “Love The Way You Lie”
Filter – “One (Cover)”
Foo Fighters – “Times Like These”
Foo Fighters – “My Hero”
The Fray – “The Great Beyond (Cover)”
James – “Born of Frustration (Live)”
Janet Jackson – “When I Think  Of You”
Kesha- “Your Love Is My Drug”
Katie Melua –  “Just Like Heaven (Cover)”
Killers – “Shadowplay (Cover)”
Lady Ga Ga/ Beyonce – “Telephone”
Led Zeppelin – “Your Time Is Gonna Come/ Black Mountain Side”
Led Zeppelin – “Misty Mountain Hop”
LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out”
Metric – “Help I’m Alive”
Midnight Oil – “Dreamworld”
Monster Magnet – “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”
The National – “All The Wine”

Naughty By Nature – “O.P.P.”
Nine Inch Nails – “Piggy”
Nine Inch Nails – “Hand That Feeds”
One Republic – “All The Right Moves”
Outkast – “Rosa Parks”
Owl City – “Hot Air Balloon”
The Outfield – “I Don’t Need Her”
Panic At The Disco! – “Karma Police” (Cover)
Pavement – “Range Life”
Pearl Jam – “Alive”
Pretenders – “Back On The Chain Gang”
Queen – “Somebody To Love”
R.E.M. – “These Days”
Smashing Pumpkins – “Geek, U.S.A.”
Soundgarden – “Outshined”
The Spin Doctors – “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues”
Stevie Wonder – “I Believe (When I Fall In Love This Time It Will Last Forever)”
Sting – “Fortress Around Your Heart”
Teenage Fanclub – “Hang On”
Tom Petty – “The Waiting”
Twilight Singers – “The Twilite Kid”
U2 – “Until The End Of The World”
U2 – “Where The Streets Have No Name”
The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like”
Weezer – “Put Me Back Together”
The Who – “Baba O’Riley”
Wu-Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”
Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”