Tokio Hotel Storms American Malls

Elisabeth Vincentelli on Tokio Hotel’s American debut:

While Nena may have climbed up the charts with "99 Luftballons" in ’83, German music has never made a dent in the American mainstream—like everything else that’s not in English. (If Shakira needs to abandon Spanish, you know there’s no hope.) And so it made sense that Tokio Hotel’s debut U.S. release, which came out on Sept. 11, would be a CD single of "Ready Steady Go" (originally "Übers Ende der Welt") and "Scream" ("Schrei"). It made even more sense that it would be sold only in Hot Topic stores—an association with the titan of goth-lite mall fashion is natural for a band whose image is a crucial element of its success.

Even as Tokio Hotel prepares for its next moves—master English, start drinking legally—it will be interesting to see if more European acts, emboldened by its success, realize they can cross borders despite shunning the pop-rock mainstream’s lingua franca. They won’t mean much to insular England and America, but they could have more impact on future identity politics in the European community than all the Brussels bureaucrats put together.

I’ll stick with Manu Chao (G), who sings in every language but English (except once in a while), and is just about to release an album recorded in cooperation with patients in an Argentine insane asylum.

7 thoughts on “Tokio Hotel Storms American Malls

  1. “Oh my god, those children should be gassed!”

    –Ignatious O’Reilley, Confederacy of Dunces, while watching equally debauched youngsters from another era covorting on Soul Train.

    Of course, the expression may not resonate well on this post, and I hasten to distance myself from any literal interpretation.


  2. Have a listen into Erdmöbel’s latest album “No. 1 Hits”. The band is not that famous and will never be but they’ve taken a couple of well-know No. 1 Hits and made German cover-versions of it. So, it works the other way round too.


  3. > they could have more impact on future identity politics in the European community than all the Brussels
    > bureaucrats put together

    Arguably they could. Let those pipsqueaks speak for themselves: “Heute ist es scheißegal, was Euch passiert ist” and “scheißegal, was uns passiert ist”,* said the group’s singer Bill, addressing his Israeli audience earlier this month. Blissful equidistance: all’s fair, past and present, both the concentration camp’s guard and his prisoner, all victims of circumstances, so to speak – provided, that is, there’s fun and beer for the masses. As for Bill, there’s gotta be mascara and eye liner, too. In all likelihood Sinus Sociovision’s marketeers would label that ‘post-materialist hedonist ‘ – what would they do without their sociologist lingo. Anyway, ‘post-materialist moron’ would be more like it.

    Related: Manu Chao’s first band Mano Negra was glorious and will be,** split or not – and there’s no denying that today he has the right touch for catchy tunes and genially alluding multiglot mumbling. However, since he discovered anti-globalist Jihadi Left‘s putrefying allure, he might get lost for all I care, though he surely eschews materialism as did Pol Pot. No, make that Bin Ladin.

    * “Today, I don’t give a shit for what happened to you”
    and “for what happened to us”

    ** not as glorious as Les Négresses Vertes, though. Their singer died early, as befits his trade, so he couldn’t become disgusting, posing as the Mother Theresa of Tier-Mondisme, carrying the world’s weight on his shoulders, hoping for Fidel, Chávez, and Ahmadinejad to get things in order.


  4. How about lyrics no one from any country can understand? I think you guys are forgetting those great Krautrock pioneers, Can. Damo Suzuki, a Japanese longhaired freak who wandered around West Germany back in the Sixties, sang wonderful gibberish in many of their songs, thereby transcending such pedestrian needs such as comprehension and intelligibility.

    Can’s “Tago Mago” came out in 1971 and still worth listening to. Here are a couple Youtube Can selections.





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