Monday, June 19, 2017

Amadeus Rocks!

A look at the songs that have shaped
my life and ended up on my devices.
In the spring of 1985, a relatively-unknown Austrian rapper exploded all over the radio with a funky take on a classical genius. Requests poured in for it, and I remember hearing it several times on a St. Louis station while on an outing with my church youth group. Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" eventually became one of the few 45-rpm singles I ever bought.

The release came with two versions: Falco's original with the German lyrics and an American edit substituting a timeline of Mozart's life.

This was the one I preferred. I also dug the video, which featured the original German and a heap of 18th Century fashion -- years before your servant would dress up in it himself.

Notice Falco rubbing his hands together about 45 seconds into the above video. I incorporated that same hand gesture into a church play before I sat down on a throne as King Darius. I don't know if anybody got the reference.

Falco represented white rap at its whitest and classiest. To me, he didn't culturally appropriate anything as much as adapt it for a different audience and different subject matter, blending it with mainstream rock and white soul. Weeks after "Rock Me Amadeus" rocketed to number one, he got a follow-up onto the charts, "Vienna Calling." This time, he had no English version. It played on the radio in the full German, cracking the top 20 in the summer of 1985. He never had another big hit in America, although he kept going for years before dying of injuries from a drug-influenced car wreck in 1998.

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