Thinking back to 1996 when I was sent to Switzerland to work for a few months, I remember watching VIVA, the German music channel, because I didn’t understand the news programmes. Now with the wonderful world of YouTube, I’ve been able to relive those heady days in Uzwil. Here’s a selection of the tunes that got heavy rotation on the the channel around that time.
The Rock Section
prepare to rock a bit
A classic. Great video, a “ten little indians” story to the son, and a glorious drunken singalong chorus. Rinderwahn = Mad Cow Disease, by the way.
Pop-punk lot which used to veer wildly between straightforward rock tunes with amusing subjects (like here), to pastiches of other genres. I got them confused with Die Prinzen a lot.
The Dance Section
prepare to dance dayglo
This lot went from underground techno to chart techno pretty quickly. They also got some money for a CGI video in the steampunk style.
Bubblegum pop techno, with a surprisingly fast and hard edge. This one went all serious as a singer (using her real name, of all things) and actress after a while. I didn’t know they played American football in Hamburg.
Pretty straightforward pornographic cartoon techno.
You couldn’t really get away from this guy in 1996, him and his brand of “dream house”, i.e. offensively inoffensive piano- and string-driven plinky plonky. This one was quite nice though, with a baby-voiced girl doing the vocals, and a very pleasant piano bridge. The video is a bit daft, but not so bad. The woman puts her briefcase down in a busy street with no regard for the consequences, and then floats off. Typical.
Serious dance music for serious people. Lots of that flashing over-exposure camera trick that was overused back then. Quite good tune though, with nonsense trancey lyrics about soaring.
The Pop Section
prepare to have low standards
Oh dear, this is a bit of terrible Euro-pop. I believe they had a minor hit in the UK with some other sunny tropical-flavoured fluff, which they promoted by doing a topless mag shoot. Class! This just has an old B&W movie as a backdrop.
And it gets worse. Hey everyone! Put on your blue jeans and come to the beach party on your scooter! Don’t forget to put your towel on the sunbed.
Politics! Crap-pop-rap about using condoms which totally rips off Push It by Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Their later work ripped off TLC, and anyone else they could think of. They did a song about a friend or fan or someone committing suicide, which is always the best way to remember them and make some money in the process.
I have a problem with this guy. He’s a big star, with many albums of good AOR under his belt. But it’s just stadium rock really. I’m sure he plays several instruments, and did a concert in a sequinned jacket at one stage, and probably does a couple of numbers at a grand piano with the 100,000 attendees holding zippos aloft. I think I don’t like him because he is a sacred cow.
The Novelty Section
prepare to be amused the first time
For some reason this got a lot of play. The Germans like Frank Zappa, and this one has some drunk singalong appeal, I guess. I think FZ fell in to the same category as the likes of Otto Waalkes and ‘Tiresome’ Al Jankovic, which I don’t think he’s meant to. I don’t think of him as a novelty, by the way. He just didn’t fit in any other box here.
I like it. The voice, the video, the lyrics: “I’ll have a piece of that one, about so big”, the OAPs playing the bridge. Funny stuff.
“Always if I am sad, I drink a korn,
Then if I am still sad, I drink another korn,
Then if I am still sad, I drink another korn,
Then if I am still sad, I start again from the beginning.”
NB1: korn = a type of schnapps, raw grain alcohol.
NB2: I have no idea what is happening in the second half of the video.
The Soul and Rap section
prepare to vomit
The Germans like a bit of overworked sentimental street poetry. This video is a bit like that TLC one about sticking to lakes and rivers, rather than dying of AIDS. Or did this come first? Anyway, airbrushed portraits of the deceased ahoy!
More homegrown serious rap, this time about murdering your wife, which everyone else is doing too, apparently.
Pop-rap summer tune with a double-intendre as a title. This chap was mates with Stefan Raab, who is a bit of a TV and music star, so he got lots of exposure.
Oh good christ help me. Sexy lady terrorists have taken over thje Whitehouse! What can we do? Get Bobby out of rehab and the rest out of the “Where are they now?” file, and reactivate New Edition.
Let’s spend an hour in the shower, indeed.