99 Red Balloons – Goldfinger

Cheesy hits from the past given a quick ‘pop punk’ make over and covered for laughs. It’s a genre that has considerable legs. Ever since The Ramones did Spider-Man, The Sex Pistols did Friggin In The Riggin’  and The Dickies did The Banana Split’s Theme the punk rock knock about cover has been a thing. A big big thing.

Me First and The Gimmie Gimmes exist purely to keep plumbing the depths of this strain of rock, all the Lookout Records type bands have had a go and the world might never have heard of Limp Bizkit were it not for their take on Georgie Michael’s Faith.

But we can’t change history. Or blame the ‘Punk Rock Knockabout Cover’ for that.

As anyone who ever heard the last half hour of any Indie Disco worth it’s salt in the 2000’s can attest, these covers can be a glorious guilty pleasure.

It’s not right to play Abba and the Grease soundtrack at an alternative night. It’s immoral, untrustworthy, corrupt and I don’t approve. So the punk rock loophole of letting Ash or Less Than Jake cover them is a ‘get out’ clause that means the drunk girl who doesn’t usually come to this sort of thing can sing along to something at 1:45 AM along with the rest of the room and leave feeling like she’s had a good time.

And so we come to Goldfinger’s version of Nena’s 1980’s hit 99 Red Balloons. A particularly virulent sample of the type.

What Goldfinger do is play the song as a heavy metal anthem. They use all that ‘war machine iconography’ and pretend to be Megadeth with it. It’s amazing how well the song lends itself to the metal tropes. There’s a dash of Rush in the arrangement (especially around the beginning) a lot of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden in the main section of the song and a Queensrÿche style coda. Overall it sounds like Goldfinger are covering The Scorpions as the 80’s-ness and Germanic aspects of the original leak through way stronger than it’s girl fronted synth pop origins.

It’s a good laugh as it plays it’s hand (the ‘we know it’s daft and we won’t let on if you don’t’ card) to the very end. If you’d never heard the song before you’d think the band were entirely serious.

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