The song has been covered by numerous bands, including 7 Seconds, Desolation Yes, Five Iron Frenzy, Goldfinger, Siobhan DuVall, Angry Salad, Reel Big Fish, Smutgeist, and Draco and the Malfoys, and is a show staple. In German it was covered by Beat Crusaders and by Goldfinger in English with a German verse. The German verse in the song is actually the next to last verse in the original German version, and it replaces the next to last verse in the English version (one involving Captain Kirk). However, in Sony Computer Entertainment's Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec the song is sung in full English, including the Captain Kirk verse. The Goldfinger cover was featured in several films, including Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Watchmen (2009), and Eurotrip (2004) as well as during various competitions in Nickelodeon's television movie Rocket Power: Race Across New Zealand (2002). The song was also used during an episode of Gilmore Girls called "Dear Emily and Richard", when Lorelai Gilmore arrives at the hospital. Van Nuys covered it for the My Name Is Earl soundtrack. http://www.objectretrieval.com/node/269
Hast du etwas Zeit für mich Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich Von 99 Luftballons Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich Von 99 Luftballons Und dass so was von so was kommt 99 Luftballons Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont Hielt man für Ufos aus dem All Darum schickte ein General 'ne Fliegerstaffel hinterher Alarm zu geben, wenn es so wär Dabei war'n da am Horizont Nur 99 Luftballons 99 Düsenjäger Jeder war ein großer Krieger Hielten sich für Captain Kirk Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht Dabei schoss man am Horizont Auf 99 Luftballons 99 Kriegsminister - Streichholz und Benzinkanister - Hielten sich für schlaue Leute Witterten schon fette Beute Riefen Krieg und wollten Macht Mann, wer hätte das gedacht Dass es einmal soweit kommt Wegen 99 Luftballons 99 Jahre Krieg Ließen keinen Platz für Sieger Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr Und auch keine Düsenflieger Heute zieh' ich meine Runden Seh' die Welt in Trümmern liegen Hab' 'nen Luftballon gefunden Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen Lyrics in German
"Do you have some time for me? Then I will sing a song for you Of 99 balloons On their way to the horizon Are you perhaps thinking of me? Then I will sing a song for you Of 99 balloons And that something can come from such a thing. 99 balloons On their way to the horizon Thought they were UFO's from space So a general sent A flying squad out there To raise alarm if it was true Yet there on the horizon were Only 99 balloons. 99 jet airplanes Each one was a great warrior Thought that they were Captain Kirk There were great fireworks The neighbors didn't understand And immediately felt provoked Yet there they shot on the horizon At 99 balloons. 99 war ministers Matches and petrol cans Thought that they were clever people Already caught wind of great spoils Shouted "war!" and wanted power Man, who would've ever thought That one day it would come to this Because of 99 balloons 99 years of war Leave no place for victors There are no war ministers anymore And no jet airplanes either Today I'm doing my rounds Seeing the world laying in ruins Found a balloon Think of you/And let it fly...“ Auf wiedersehen ! Translated in English
While at a Rolling Stones concert in Berlin, Nena's guitarist Carlo Karges noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, where they looked nothing like a mass of balloons but some strange spacecraft. (The word in the German lyrics "UFO") He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector. "99 Luftballons" is a Cold War-era protest song performed by the German singer Nena. Originally sung in German, it was later re-recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons".
This was one of the songs in the '80s to make a point about the brinkmanship and paranoia/hysteria surrounding the issue of war. The song talks about Nena and the listener buying 99 Balloons in a shop and letting them go, for fun. These balloons show up on the radar as unidentified objects and both sides scramble planes and go to full alert to counteract a perceived nuclear attack, when in fact it is the most childlike of things, a bunch of balloons. The song, though difficult to understand, is also about the dreams of the German people that were lost after World War II. The 99 balloons represent the many dreams that each person had. At the end of the song, she just wants to prove that the German people did have dreams by finding one balloon - she finds one balloon, a dream, and lets it go.
This was about a current event at the time it was written, and was written by people who were invested and involved in the issue discussed. Because Nena, and the band were alive and present for many of the events of the Cold War in Germany, this song is very personal and relevant for its time. They were writing about an issue that they faced every day. They were present to see the people behind the wall living a separate life.
This song is still very relevant today. Governments of different countries around the world do not trust one another today. Too often, events that are not nearly as significant as they appear, are taken to the extreme, causing panic and making issues out of non-issues.
Factoids: Nena is a true one-hit-wonder outside of Germany, where she didn't even come close to another hit. Before this, however, her single "Nur Getraumt" was a #1 hit in Germany. "Luftballons" literally translates to "Air Balloons" in German, and means regular party balloons.