Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Alles Klar, Herr Kommissar?

One song, so many different versions ...

Let's start with the original from Falco, the guy later known as Mr. Rock Me Amadeus.

The song's in German, although Falco is Austrian. My high school Deutsch ist vergessen, but basically, "Der Kommissar" is about a woman who likes cocaine, friends who probably died from using, and getting hassled by the cops. That was 1981. The song hit #72 in the US, even though most AM radio listeners didn't understand anything more than "Check it out, Joe" and "my funky friends." Then came British band, After the Fire.

The lyrics aren't exactly a literal translation, but close enough for rock and roll -- and the story is basically the same. It's 1983 now and this version went Top 5 in the States.

1983 was also the year that Laura Branigan released her second LP, simply Branigan 2. Laura's first big hit had been a cover of an Italian hit by Umberto Tozzi. (Hang with me. I'm headed somewhere.)

So for Branigan 2, it made sense to look for another foreign-language hit to adapt.  Track 2, "Deep in the Dark," wasn't released as a single, the lyrics are completely different, but the melody should be familiar by now.

Lots of kitchy "Der Kommissar" covers have come out since the 1980s. Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons did a version that sounds a lot like Dale Bozzio singing along with the radio. Chicago punk band The Squids took it on too. Here's Brazilian band Comunidade Ninjitsu with "Rap do Trago" ("I Bring the Rap").  If my Google Fu is strong, it's about a guy who has to get drunk before he can talk to girls.

Let's close this out with a live performance by the guy who brought German rap (and that's really what it is) to the world.


  1. Falco has also brought magician theatrics to music video. Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha!

    1. Actually it's "Ja!", meaning "yes" in German. Sorry to be so pedantic, but I'm quite guilty of being a retired teacher. :-)

  2. I know what you mean. When he took off those sunglasses, it looked like he was going to make them vanish.