99 balloons

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
99 balloons
publication January 1983
length 3:53
Genre (s) Neue Deutsche Welle
Author (s) Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen , Carlo Karges
album Nena

99 Luftballons is a pop song by the band Nena from 1983. The lyrics are by Carlo Karges , the music was written by Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen . The piece was one of the most successful titles of the Neue Deutsche Welle and also internationally one of the most successful pop songs in German. The English version of the song, published in 1984, also became an international hit.

Background and origin

99 Luftballons was created against the backdrop of the last phase of the Cold War in Germany in the 1980s. Due to the NATO double resolution of 1979, the stationing of nuclear Pershing II missiles began in Germany in 1983 . This nuclear armament gave rise to fears that the risk of nuclear war was increasing and therefore met with massive opposition from parts of the population. These formed in the peace movement of the 1980s.

The idea for the lyrics came to band guitarist Carlo Karges in 1982 at a Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin when he was watching a large number of colorful balloons rise into the sky. Karges wondered what would happen if the balloons drifted across the border to East Berlin and triggered a paranoid reaction there. The melody for the text was then written by the band's keyboardist, Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen . Kevin McAlea wrote the English text.

The song's success in the United States came about without any advertising or marketing from the record company CBS. When Christiane Felscherinow was in Los Angeles to promote the film Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo , she and Nina Hagen were guests on the show by the well-known disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer . When listeners asked about Christiane's taste in music, she selected the song 99 Luftballons , which was on a tape she had brought back from Germany. Bingenheimer was so taken with the song that he played it again a few days later. Other radio stations and MTV also broadcast the song.


The song tells how 99 balloons float in the sky, are mistaken for UFOs and a general sends a squadron with 99 jet fighters to give the alarm, if so. But the air squadron shoots the balloons in the sky, which is now mistakenly mistaken for an attack by 99 ministers of war in the neighboring states and used as a pretext to expand their own sphere of influence militarily. The consequence of 99 years of war is the end of human civilization on earth. The song then ends with the following lines:

99 years of war
left no room for winners
There is no longer a war minister
and no jet planes either
Today I do my laps
see the world in ruins.
Found a balloon
Think of yourself and let it fly

The English text describes essentially the same scenario, but individual sentences and content-related details differ significantly from the German original text. It ends with the lines:

99 dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standin '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
I think of you and let it go.


After Nenas 99 balloons had reached number 1 in Germany at the end of March 1983 , international success was inevitable. They made it to the top of the charts in Japan , Mexico , Canada and Australia, among others . In the United States , the German-language version of the song was number 2 on the Billboard charts and number 1 on the cash box charts and was awarded gold on March 26, 1984 for 500,000 copies sold. On February 24, 1984, the English-language version managed (99 Red Balloons) the jump to No. 1 on the UK forex charts and stayed there for three weeks.

Charts Top ranking Weeks
Chart placements
Germany (GfK) Germany (GfK) 1 (23 weeks) 23
Austria (Ö3) Austria (Ö3) 1 (14 weeks) 14th
Switzerland (IFPI) Switzerland (IFPI) 1 (11 weeks) 11
United Kingdom (OCC) United Kingdom (OCC) 1 (12 weeks) 12
United States (Billboard) United States (Billboard) 2 (23 weeks) 23

99 Balloons was Nena's only hit outside of Europe, which is why she is considered a one-hit wonder , especially in the USA and Great Britain .

Awards for music sales

Note: Awards in countries from the chart tables or chart boxes can be found in these.

Country / Region Gold record icon.svg gold Platinum record icon.svg platinum Sales swell
Awards for music sales
(country / region, awards, sales, sources)
Australia (ARIA) Australia (ARIA) Gold record icon.svg gold1 0! P- 50,000 aria.com.au
Germany (BVMI) Germany (BVMI) Gold record icon.svg gold1 0! P- 250,000 musikindustrie.de
France (SNEP) France (SNEP) Gold record icon.svg gold1 0! P- 666,500 snepmusique.com
Canada (MC) Canada (MC) 0! G- Platinum record icon.svg platinum1 100,000 musiccanada.com
United States (RIAA) United States (RIAA) Gold record icon.svg gold1 0! P- 500,000 riaa.com
United Kingdom (BPI) United Kingdom (BPI) Gold record icon.svg gold1 0! P- 500,000 bpi.co.uk
All in all Gold record icon.svg 5 × gold5 Platinum record icon.svg platinum1

New versions

In 2002 Nena released a new version of the song; However, this could not build on the successes of the original. The version reached number 28 in Germany and number 88 in Switzerland.

On the occasion of the documentary Summer of the 80s , a new, German-French version of the song was recorded for the TV station ARTE with a video clip by Philippe Rouget. Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen and Derek von Krogh rearranged the song for the occasion.

Cover versions and other uses

  • The American band 7 Seconds released a cover version of the song on the album Walk Together, Rock Together in 1985 .
  • The American band Goldfinger released a cover version of the song in 2000 , which can be found in the computer game Gran Turismo , as well as in the films Not Another Teenage Film and Eurotrip . The first two stanzas come from the English version, the last from the German.
  • Brisko Schneider sang the song on his show Briskos Jahrhundertshow.
  • The computer game Lazy Jones contains a sub-game called 99 Red Ballons , which uses the song as background music.
  • A scene with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn was filmed for the film The Wedding Crashers , in which the two sing karaoke to 99 Red Balloons / 99 Luftballons . The scene was not included in the final version of the film, but is included as an unused scene on the DVD.
  • In the film A Wedding to Fall in Love , which takes place in the 80s, there is a scene in which the leading actress Drew Barrymore (also in the original English version) sings the song in German.
  • In the film, one man - one murder is 99 balloons played.
  • In the original English version of the episode The Heartbroke Kid from The Simpsons , the song by Homer Simpson is sung in German.
  • In the third season of the Gilmore Girls series, Baby Alarm , Lorelai hears the song on her Walkman while she is in the hospital to give birth to her daughter Rory.
  • In episode 44, My Interpretation of Scrubs , lead actor JD escapes twice in a daydream in which he dances to the song in a room full of red balloons.
  • Weird Al Yankovic sings the chorus of the song with slightly changed lyrics in the song Hooked On Polkas .
  • In Zack Snyder's graphic novel adaptation Watchmen - The Guardians , 99 balloons are used for the musical background of a scene. The German version of the song can also be heard in the original version of the film.
  • In the movie Boogie Nights , the song runs in the drug deal scene after it turns into a shootout.
  • In 1983, comedian Otto Waalkes parodied 99 balloons as 99 gingerbread in his musical revue on Hansel and Gretel .
  • In 1998 rapper John Forté sampled the English version 99 red balloons in the song Ninety nine (Flash the message) sung with singer Jeni Fujita and produced by the two former Fugee rappers Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean . Fujita sings the chorus of Nena.
  • In the film Welcome to War , the song is sung several times.
  • In the 2009 film Mr. Nobody , the song is played in the chapter A Beautiful Day at a Birthday Party.
  • On his album Campeones in 1986 Ray Conniff played a version of the title.
  • The film Atomic Blonde , set shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, uses the song in the original and in a cover version by the London band Kaleida in its 80s-hit soundtrack .
  • The song has received several awards in the Grand Theft Auto series. So you can hear the German version of the song in Vice City on the radio station Wave 103. In Vice City Stories you have to shoot 99 balloons for the 100% rating.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Paul D'Anieri: International Politics: Power and Purpose in Global Affairs . Cengage Learning 2009, ISBN 978-0-534-52135-6 , p. 205 ( excerpt in the Google book search)
  2. a b 99 balloons and the chaos of emotions. In: Der Spiegel , 13/1984, March 26, 1984.
  3. 99 Red Balloons - interview with the writer, Kevin McAlea. In: eightyeightynine.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  4. Christiane Felscherinow / Sonja Vukovic: Christiane F. - My second life . Deutscher Levante Verlag, Berlin 2013. Page 95.
  5. Nena - 99 Luftballons chart placement in Germany. GfK Entertainment , accessed on September 20, 2019 .
  6. Nena - 99 balloons chart placement Austria. In: Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien, accessed September 20, 2019 .
  7. Nena - 99 balloons chart placement in Switzerland. In: Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien, accessed September 20, 2019 .
  8. ^ Nena - 99 Red Balloons Charthistory United Kingdom. Official Charts Company , accessed September 20, 2019 .
  9. Nena - 99 Red Balloons chart placement United States. Billboard , accessed September 20, 2019 .
  10. Brent Mann: 99 Red Balloons: And 100 Other All Time Great One-Hit Wonders . Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2003, ISBN 978-0-8065-2516-7
  11. Joshua David Stein: Who Were 1984's One-Hit Wonders? The Billboard, October 24, 2014.
  12. Archive link ( Memento from August 12, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  13. http://www.nena.de/news/756-nena-singt-q99-luftballonsq-exklusiv-fuer-arte
  14. the song: 99 balloons , arte 2018