June 19, 2009

Er war Superstar, er war populär

One interesting thing I noticed while selecting this week's songs, was that there are few to no hit songs from southern Europe that make it big in North America. I guess that the southern Europeans - the French, Italians, Spanish, Greeks, and so forth - must spend their time drinking wine and sunbathing on the Mediterranean, leaving us cold Germanic folk to write all the loud music. All my selections were from northern Europe and Scandinavia, and if I'd widened my list, I could have continued in that trend: "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring (the Netherlands); "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions and "99 Luftballoons" by Nena (Germany); "The Look" and "Dangerous" by Roxette (Sweden); or, of course, "Oh Yeah" by Yello (Switzerland).

And, representing Austria, there's Falco, whose biggest hit is my personal favourite of this theme, "Rock Me Amadeus":

Written to cash in on the recent success of the movie Amadeus, "Rock Me Amadeus" likens Mozart to a modern rock star: the video shows Falco, in modern semi-formal wear, entertaining an eighteenth-century audience; meanwhile, Falco-as-Mozart performs to the adulation of a crowd of bikers. In Canada, I recall that the version of this song that got the most airplay was actually an abbreviated version of the "Salieri" remix, in which the verses were eliminated and a bridge section listed the highlights of Mozart's life.

Falco is often wrongly considered a one-hit wonder in North America, as the success of "Amadeus" overshadows his two other more modest hits, "Der Komissar" and "Vienna Calling." Thus far, Falco is the only artist to score a #1 hit with a German-language song. Sadly, he would never top the success of "Rock Me Amadeus" before his untimely death in a car accident in 1998; he was 40.