Nena @ The Regency Ballroom

By Michael Movchin – Own work, Wikimedia Commons

You’ve probably heard this German popstar even if her monicker doesn’t ring a bell. Nena, which is both the name of the band and the stage name of its lead singer Gabriele Susanne Kerner, is responsible for the undeniably catchy early ’80s New German Wave hit, “99 Luftballons” (or “99 Balloons,” for those of us who don’t speak German). The anti-war protest song — which I, as a child, mistook for being about “99 dead baboons” — displays all the characteristics of the short-lived New German Wave genre: a frenetic, reckless punk melody, bassy undertones à la new wave power-pop, shimmery synth chords, and some desperately futuristic-sounding electronic accents. Though the band broke up in 1987, Nena, the singer, has continued making music as a solo artist, gaining traction in her home country of Germany, where she has had 14 Top 10 records. With a whopping 12 solo albums under her belt, the 56-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down. Her most recent single, “Genau Jetzt” — which translates to “Exactly Now” — is a brooding, dark electro number that might not be as politically overt as her biggest hit, but certainly verges on the controversial with its music video featuring a multi ethnic and LGBT cast.

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