Music Video of the Day: 99 Red Balloons by Nena (1984, dir. Bert van der Veer)


I can’t write a lot because I’ve had a hard day (I always write these posts the day before they go up). Thankfully, this is the perfect music video to do since there isn’t much to say.

Yesterday I spotlighted the German version of this song. Despite having taken around three years of German in school, I cannot translate the lyrics to the song. Luckily, I don’t have to. You don’t have to read any of this to be able to understand why this is a terrible version of the song and music video. Listen to the music video at around two minutes and thirty seconds when she says the line, “super high-tech jet fighters.” It sounds rushed, like they were trying to fit it in with the music. This was not a direct translation, and you can tell. You can hear they were trying to make this more for an English-speaking audience without actually changing the music to fit the different lyrics. You’ll notice the difference if you listen to something like The Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand and the German version Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand. It’s a different language, but it still sounds right. Granted, it is a simpler song, but you get my point.

The visual differences are minor, but interesting. The biggest difference is that they move the end of the music video to the beginning. They cut certain sequences and replace them with concert footage. They also rearrange the order of certain scenes. The gist is that they cut between the original video and concert footage to hide anytime she is lip-syncing the original lyrics. My favorite examples are at the beginning when they have her in slow-motion and later when they cut her concert footage short just after she starts to say ninety-nine in German, which is neunundneunzig. The mouth moves close enough if you cut soon enough.

One of best things about both the original version and this one is what happened during a charity event VH1 Classic once ran for Hurricane Katrina relief. The idea was that people who donated would get to choose what music videos they would play. According to Wikipedia, someone made a $35,000 donation if they would play this and the original continuously for an hour. They did so between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 pm EST on March 26, 2006.

Enjoy comparing the two!

99 Luftballons versions:

1. 99 Luftballons by Nena (1984, dir. Bert van der Veer)

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4 responses to “Music Video of the Day: 99 Red Balloons by Nena (1984, dir. Bert van der Veer)

  1. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: 99 Luftballons by Nena (2002, dir. Marcus Sternberg) | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: 99 Luftballons by Nena (2002, dir. Marcus Sternberg) | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: 99 Luftballons by Nena (2009, dir. Philippe Rouget) | Through the Shattered Lens

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