Many movies rely on songs to set the mood, and there are some that rely heavily on what we like to call “soundtrack staples.” Nena’s 99 luftballons, also known as 99 red balloons, were a sample of perfect pop with a message…
although most missed the details of its strong anti-war story, as the German version was the one that had a big hit, even though you only had to flip the single to get the English version. even if you made that Herculean effort, the lyrics took a lot of liberties in the translation, going beyond the need to allow those pesky extra German syllables to introduce color into the anglicized globes.
It was proof that it didn’t really matter what you sang as long as it was catchy, plus there was a certain exoticism to words like “schlauerlloyd” (erm, actually “schlaue leute” or “smart people” – you can tell the irony), and we are always left wondering why fritz was so anxious. apparently this also distracted us from the fact that the song didn’t even have a chorus. genius!
The band themselves admitted that they regretted releasing the English version, so they would probably love us Aussies (and New Zealanders, Americans, Japanese, Germans, Austrians, Belgians, Dutch, Swedes and Swiss) for taking the german version. to our hearts – and the top of our lists. In contrast, those in the UK, Canada, and Ireland took the English version to the top of their charts.
When we researched the song’s appearances on the movie soundtrack, we were surprised to find only 14, and only a handful of them in the English version.
Anyway, here’s the video, the German mix of course, with the movies she appeared in below (plus an additional deleted scene version)…
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grosse pointe blank (1997) the wonderful black comedy starring john cusack and minnie driver decided to put a soundtrack to the elimination of a body with the song of baby. it was an inspired and quirky choice (although the track, of course, was a pretty good fit for the 1986 class reunion).
boogie nights (1997) another violent scene using 99 luftballons ironically? he’s a sneaky one, that paul thomas anderson… oh yeah, warning language x a lot.
The Wedding Singer (1998) One of two songs in German that appear on the soundtrack of this fabulous feel-good movie, the other being Austrian falco’s der kommissar, julia (drew barrymore) is having ‘a great old sing when yipes!
Wedding Crashers (2005)This was cut from the final cut, possibly because Wilson and Vaughn can’t sing to shhh, but it made it to home release. it’s the English version, but the German one obviously wouldn’t have fit the scene. prepare your ears…
My Best Friend’s Girl (2008)While some may argue that New Order’s bizarre love triangle would have fit in here, 99 Red Balloons proves it’s suitable for just about any soundtrack occasion. , even a comedy from dane cook, kate hudson and jason biggs.
watchmen (2009)just to mix things up a bit, here are 99 luftballons in zack snyder’s epic comic book adaptation.
mr nobody (2009) this sliding door-style fantasy romance proved you’re never too young to tag along with babe.
Inferno (2011) We’re not sure where they used 99 luftballons in this artsy German post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror experience, but the trailer didn’t put it high on our must-watch list. your mileage may vary, of course.
filth (2013) “hey soundtrack supervisor, this scene shows the guys visiting hamburg. be darling and think of something suitable, okay? “ah shut up, that balloon song will do, it was german, right? I’m going to the pub. language warning!
atomic blonde (2017) ooh, we’re back to square one with assassin movies: this one is so into 99 luftballons that it not only featured the original ace babe, but this version as well in english duo kaleida who, speaking of murder, follow the modern approach to the “let’s suck all the breath out of life” soundtrack that gary jules started the trend with his tearful assault on the wacky world of fears . friend, we would like to have a word with you…
bingo: the morning king (2017)
Hey, even Brazilians get the baby thing, though since this is a movie about a weird-looking clown, the next clip is as close as we’ll ever get to seeing the movie. It is based on the lives of real people, but the names have been changed to protect the filmmakers. There’s no 99 in this trailer, but we’ve got some fabulous, glamorous pacing…
Despicable Me 3 (2017)If you have to start your day with your dreams rudely shattered by an alarm, you can at least wake up to baby poptastic waves just ask the former star! 80’s balthazar bratt child!
sickness sunday (2018)wow, this one looks sad! This Spanish drama tells the story of a mother and a daughter, who collide again after about 30 years. Fortunately, the babes are there to cheer us on (even if they’re not in the trailer).
Little White Lies 2 (2019)Coming to France, this dramatic sequel has a wild soundtrack that sees Nena crashing into everyone from Bryan Ferry and Cyndi Lauper to Crowded House and Donna Summer.
My Spy (2020) This silly and hilarious action-comedy from dave bautista wastes no time getting into a 99 luftballons spot like chase music, though we must question dave’s taste in music , as he rapidly changes the channel. boo!
Check out our other soundtrack staples here.