Written By: Omar Stamp
Even if you‘re not a music snob, DJ, or a fan of electronic music, saturated with countless obnoxiously named sub-genres, all of them just fancy ways of saying “music”…you’ve appreciated Kraftwerk at some point. Why? Because even said music snobs, DJ’s, and the most anti-pop underground Techno ravers known to mankind can’t deny the greatness of the “the most influential pop group in history”…right there with the Beatles. The reclusive, German, four man band has had close to 20 stoic faced members throughout almost fifty years of radioactivity, but founding members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider fronted the group together, until Schneider’s departure in 2008.
With zehn studio albums, einz live album, and countless remixes out there by every producer and DJ trying in futility to touch the Gods, it was very difficult to pick just fünf songs for this list. In fact, there is most definitely a B-Side that I enjoy equally, especially a couple songs from the 80’s, but my criterion (as a snobby DJ and fan of electronic music) is: I’ve listened to it in the pitch black darkness over and over, Pop-ish enough to introduce a first time listener, still relatively up to date sound, and you can sneak it into a DJ set (if you’re gangster…).
#5 – The Robots (The Man-Machine, 1978) – 115bpm
You can tell this was the lead song on an album, with that wining synth and those “bloop beeps” before the drums. As minimal as electronic music gets, there’s nothing complicated about its arrangement, or simple melody…which is exactly why you’ll be saying “We are the robots” in your head in no time. At a steady but dancy 115bpm, it’s suitable for an early night DJ set, or an awkward early morning foot tapping after party.
#4 – Computer Love (Computer World, 1981) – 124bpm
You can really hear the both the emotional, and technological growth of Kraftwerk during the 80’s. This song uses particularly warm, comforting synths, and even its vocals are more “human”, revealing just a hint of anxiety, and desire, all very strange since its literally a love ballad to a computer…in freakin’ 1981. Talk about ahead of your time. The repetitive melody has been remixed countless times, and the Album was Grammy nominated.
#3 – Tour De France (Tour De France, 2003) – 130bpm
Originally released in 1983 (the 80’s…<3), Tour De France is a departure from the band’s techno-infatuation, focusing instead on their interest in world class cycling, in which several of its members were active participants. Featuring mechanical percussion patterns, and sampled “breathing” voices, the track (just can’t call this one a song) is categorized as “Electro”, and was featured in the 1984 film “Breakin’”. So yea, the kids loved it.
#2 – The Hall of Mirrors (Trans-Europe Express, 1977) – 95bpm
This is my favorite weird song from Kraftwerk. It has no drums, it’s very trippy and devastatingly slow…but it’s so profound. I won’t tell you where I was or my frame of mind when I actually found myself looking in a mirror…while it was playing. It’s an existential crisis and an epiphany all at once. “Even the greatest stars, ___ themselves in the looking glass.” The “Hall of Mirrors” is also the central gallery in the famed Palace of Versailles, which was designed by the infamously narcissistic and insecure King Louis XIV…whoa.
#1 – The Telephone Call (Electric Café – 1986) – 125bpm
What can I say, maybe it’s because I was born in 86’, or maybe it’s because the lyrics are so relatable. This song applies perfectly to the technological limitations, and barriers that we experience in our romantic relationships today. It’s also beautifully composed, and the perfect tempo for weird retro 80’s dancing. *Single teardrop*
(German DJ voice) What are your top 5 Kraftwerk songs? Drop down in the comments and share! (Like it’s even necessary after my flawless selection)
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