Thursday, March 2, 2006

Der Kommisar” by After the Fire, from the album “After the Fire
Second week of December, 1982

The greatest pop song in German. No, not “99 Luft Balloons.” The other one. But is it German? Isn’t it in English? Is “both” an option? Germish? Not sure, but back in ’82 when this song came out it, seemed like something. It met the early 80s requirements of compressed guitar distortion, bouncy keyboards, and a bubble-gum beat. It sounded like it was supposed to be playing in some blade-running, road-warrioring, acid-washing rock club where the only way to fight fascist overloads was with hairspray, ripped clothes, and brooding. This song is a great soundtrack for brooding. Or even better—brooding that gives in to rocking when your big-haired, blue-eyelined girlfriend pulls you onto the post-apocalyptic dance floor, and then it’s all over. You just don’t stop rocking. How could you? Ssssh! Can’t you feel it? Der Kommissar! He’s in town. And you know what that means? That’s right. Don’t turn around, motherfucker. Because as sure as a black leather belt over an oversized pink sweater is hot, the faster you live the faster you will die.

Did I really think those thoughts in ’82? Not sure. I might have. Or I might have been watching Bosom Buddies instead. But it sounds right now.

You know what else sounds right? People who don’t know the words to this song singing along anyway. There’s just something satisfying about hearing people fake it while rhythmically gurgling Eurotrash fricatives. Zsaa, Zsaa.

Interesting side note. When I first heard MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” I thought he was sampling “Der Komissar.” Yes, you guessed it. I’m white and grew up in suburbia. I had never heard Rick James’s “Super Freak” until later, and, damn, those hooks are similar. And you know what else binds these songs? You bring neither “Der Kommissar” nor kinky girls home to mother.

Best Part: Zsaa, Zsaa.

— Gladstone

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