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.