The suspected Chinese spy balloon – which Beijing maintains is a rogue weather balloon – has led to a serious diplomatic crisis, and even resulted in U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceling a weekend trip to China. While the Pentagon has said the balloon poses no threat to the United States, Blinken called the alleged surveillance an “irresponsible act” and a “clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law.”
The balloon’s presence over the United States has added to already rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers had been seen to be rather hawkish on China on Friday. Questions were asked about why efforts weren’t made to shoot down or otherwise bring down the balloon.
However, the timing of the incident could be seen as good news for the German New Wave pop group Nena, which already had plans for a summer European tour. Since the balloon was first spotted over the United States, its biggest (and only U.S.) hit song, “99 Lufballons” is suddenly racking up views on YouTube. In addition, the song is suddenly getting renewed attention across social media.
The official music video posted to YouTube had few comments for months, but since Thursday has seen a massive uptick, with thousands now offering their opinions and thoughts. The same is true of the English-language version – retitled “99 Red Balloons,” which was released in the United States a year later. Though not a direct translation of the German original, it shares a similar anti-war theme.
Though the sudden interest won’t likely be enough to get either of the videos in the coveted Billions View Club, it certainly could help bring renewed attention for Nena as it prepares to tour again.
The Point Of The Song
A few on social media had apparently missed the point of the song. That included Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), who tweeted some of the lyrics of the song on Friday evening, suggesting that actions should be taken.
Greene is among those who seemed not to have read the lyrics!
“99 Lufballons” had reportedly come about after Nena’s guitarist Carlo Karges had noticed balloons being released over a Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin in 1982, while the band also cited an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal about five high school students who had attempted to play a prank by launching 99 balloons to simulate a UFO.
The song actually tells the story of how 99 balloons is released, resulting in an apocalyptic war!
“People don’t understand the irony of the song when you juxtapose the peppy music with the actual lyrics,” explained Matthew J. Schmidt, associate professor of political science at the University of New Haven. “This is actually a protest song about the placing of American missiles in Europe during the Cold War and the risk it poses for a nuclear holocaust.”
Yet, the song is trending as there are calls to shoot down the Chinese balloon.
“It is funny when you consider in the case of the Chinese balloon, the U.S. military didn’t want to shoot it down, due to a minor risk of escalation,” added Schmidt. “That is the antithesis of what the song is supposing because the music is playing at this idea that you have these ‘Captain Kirks’ taking off in their fighter jets and starting a nuclear war without contemplating the cost. This leads to the city in ashes at the end of the song.”