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Lyrics: 99 Luftballons (99 Red Balloons) - Nena

99 Luftballons (99 Red Balloons) was originally released in German (1983) and re-released in English (1984) by the artist Nena (born Gabriele Susanne Kerner in 1960). Widely regarded as a One-Hit-Wonder, Nena had other successes in her native German market, but nothing came close to the worldwide attention generated by 99 Luftballons. Even 30 years after its release, the song remains fixed in pop-culture.

The English version had mixed success on the charts across the world, perhaps due to the conversion/translation. The original German lyric version made it to number 2 in the United States (and 28th most popular for the year) while the English release hit number one in the UK (and came in 15th most popular for the year) . In some markets, the single was double-sided with the English lyrics on one side and the German version on the other.

Below are both sets of lyrics: note that this is not 1980-89's translation, it is simply how the 99 Luftballons lyrics were released in both languages by Nena (the song was never released as a direct translation). However comparing the German lyrics to the English version shows that while the overall meaning was generally kept the same, a lot of the imagery was lost. Many English speakers still prefer the German version since the English version is a little less rythmic and appears to be forced. To see the background of how the English lyrics for 99 Luftballons were created, see our interview with Kevin McAlea.

As a side note, the band Goldfinger released 99 Luftballons on its 1997 EP, 'Darrin's Coconut Ass,' but it was saved for the album 'Stomping Ground' (released 2000). In an odd development, the band incorporated lyrics from both the English and German versions. 99 Luftballons has been covered by other artists and featured in some TVs shows such as Scrubs.


99 Luftballons Lyrics

Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst Du vielleicht grad' an mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt

99 Red Balloons Lyrics

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky.
99 red balloons go by.

99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man fuer UFOs aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
Eine Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so war
Dabei war da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons

99 red balloons.
floating in the summer sky.
Panic bells, it's red alert.
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life.
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky.
Where 99 red balloons go by.

99 Duesenjaeger
Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont
Auf 99 Luftballons

99 Decision Street.
99 ministers meet.
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry.
This is what we've waited for.
This is it boys, this is war.
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by.


99 Kriegsminister
Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich fuer schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen: Krieg und wollten Macht
Mann, wer haette das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen 99 Luftballons

99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify.
To clarify and classify.
Scramble in the summer sky.
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 Jahre Krieg
Liessen keinen Platz fuer Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt es nicht mehr
Und auch keine Duesenflieger
Heute zieh ich meine Runden
Seh die Welt in Truemmern liegen
Hab' nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen

99 dreams I have had.
In every one a red balloon.
It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
In this dust that was a city.
If I could find a souvenier.
Just to prove the world was here.
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go.

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rachel: I have the goldfinger version of 99 red balloons... they sing the 4th german verse of the song and I was just wondering what it meant!! can any one help?
80-89: 4th verse roughly translated:
99 war ministers
Matches and petrol cans
Thought that they were smart
Already smelled oily loot (greasy cash?)
Shouted war and wanted power
Man, who would have thought
That one day it would come to this
Because of 99 balloons

Rudelyn: I love this song, eglish and german!!! I alsso like it when Goldfinger sings it! Ya'll rockkkk hehe I'm so retarded
80-89: This is posted unedited - we like to see a bit of passion. We also don't mind seeing the occasional attempt at grammar, spelling and punctuation. FWIW: the post is referring to 99 Luftballoons.

Deutscher: 99 red balloons - this is not a correct translation.
80-89: That's right, the song was rewritten for English. See our interview with Kevin McAlea the writer of the original English lyrics.

Bill in Hollywood: You folks are right, the Englische version of 99 Balloons is a great song by itself but it doesn't quite match the visual impact of the Deutscher version. I lived in DE when this first came out and it and the video took Europe by sturm. There's something really primal? about a sexy german Babe walking amongst burning rubble while singing about total destruction, the great War of all time, and other Teutonick imagery, it was just great...tschuss

Kenneth M. Hinds Thank you for the explanation of the disparity between the German and English lyrics. Until the Late '80s the only version that I had heard was the German. It wasn't until I got the US release CD that I realized that the lyrics didn't jive between versions. But, at least now I know why.

Don't forget to see our interview with Kevin McAlea the writer of the original English lyrics.

For something different, see the more recent Gangnam Style Lyrics translated into English

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