NENA coming to America: it’s one of the great unrequited love stories of pop culture history. “99 Luftballons” was the first German-language song to enter the US charts since Marlene Dietrich, yet although the pop queen toured all over the world, she never made it over to the US to perform. NENA has continued to rule the charts in Germany with sixteen studio albums and countless hits, and now is finally her time to take America by storm.
In the 33 years since it was released, NENA’s “99 Luftballons” (“99 Red Balloons”) has had an unmatchable impact on popular and music culture. Although NENA never stopped making music – she’s had a three-and-a-half decade career of hits and 16 studio albums behind her in Germany – and has toured in countries as far as Japan, NENA never got to tour the US. It’s one of those flukes in music history where what should have happened didn’t happen. But in NENA’s own words, “…now’s the right time. It’s always now!…When you want to do something and it just doesn’t happen, you shouldn’t be sad or disappointed because, well, 35 years later, it happens! It’s perfect timing.”
At the heart of NENA is a rock’n’roller with unbeatable stage presence and energy to spare, whether she’s playing to regularly sold-out crowds at the biggest arenas or more intimate club venues. Just take a listen to NENA’s latest outing – the excellent, energetic and rocking live album Live at SO36, recorded during a within-minutes sold-out concert at the famed Berlin club SO36. The opening rocking riffs of “Noch Einmal” NENA struck on her Telecaster sent out a shockwave of energy that carries through an entire night. From pure rockers to new-wave favorites to the touching ballads that fans sing along word-for-word, NENA can electrify a crowd with her incomparable, instantly recognizable voice and her own brand of rock’n’roll that includes influences of The Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads, among many others. The dancing never lets up with NENA until the lights finally go on at the end of the night. That’s what NENA is going to ultimately bring to the US – an amazing live energy that can shake an entire audience to its core.
She’s captured the hearts of Germany: her numerous top ten hits and 25 million sold records are proof of that. Now it’s time to share that with America. NENA’s most recent studio album, Oldschool, is the perfect fusion of her constant drive for artistic development and genuine authenticity. Produced and co-written by German hip-hop superstar Samy Deluxe, it blisters with a sense of immediacy and newness while especially playing lyrically with references to her past.
NENA has never been a nostalgia act; she still delivers onstage an exhilarating mix of her amazing and expansive discography. With that much spark, it’s a recipe for an utterly mind-blowing evening. American fans that missed the opportunity to see NENA when they were first introduced to her now have that chance. To paraphrase her latest single, there’s no time like “Genau jetzt” (right now).
NENA will be playing San Francisco on September 30, Los Angeles on October 2, and New York City on October 4.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.