Reasons I Love Kraftwerk
Last night, I saw electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk at the Hollywood Bowl. I jotted down this list of reasons I love them.
- •Their multilingualismKraftwerk performs in their native German; also English, Japanese, French, Russian, etc. They do so with no particular grand announcement, as if they assume everyone else is hopping around the globe like them.
- •Their pleasure in small, real-world technologiesAlthough Kraftwerk was known as a "futuristic"/ sci-fi band in the 70s and 80s, the truth is that most of their songs were about appreciating the tech of their era. Kraftwerk songs pay tribute to pocket calculators, home computers, telephones and neon lights ("Neon Lights" might be their most beautiful song). By positing technology as something to embrace and enjoy, they may be the most positive 20th century musicians.
- •They predicted Tinder (and pretty much everything else)Seriously, their song "Computer Love" (the one Coldplay "borrowed") required a level of prognostication that I can't fathom.
- •Their melancholyMost perfectly represented in the song "Hall of Mirrors." So beautiful! So German!
- •Their devotion to the sensuality of machinesWhether it's "Man Machine," the bicycles in "Tour de France" or the cars in "Autobahn," they recognize what is human and sensual in mechanical expression. And again - they pay beautiful tribute to these simple pleasures of their era, much like the Beach Boys (who Kraftwerk paid tribute to with the refrain, "Fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn").
- •The fact that the "eins zwei drei vier" at the beginning of "Showroom Dummies" was inspired by Dee Dee Ramone yelling "one two three four" at the beginning of Ramones songs
- •The way they inspired Giorgio Moroder to reshape disco in their image, and Afrika Bambatta to do the same thing with hip-hop, which shaped all of modern pop music
- •The integrity of their "anonymous workers" approach to music, which was such an audacious move for its time that it had to be adopted by EDM as a whole (Daft Punk, etc.).
- •The fact that Ralf Hutter, the one original member who basically IS Kraftwerk, A) shares my birthday and B) is now 70 years old and stood alone onstage at the end of the show, taking a modest bow and looking very vulnerable and human and moving me to no end.What a great show!