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Friday, December 14, 2018

"Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco

#1 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2618
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance



Pop Bits:  Austrian musican Johann H√∂lzel, aka Falco, became part of Vienna's underground music scene at a teenager. He played with different bands for several years until an artist manager spotted him performing with the infamous shock-rock group Dhradiwaberl and offered to secure him a record deal. The results of that was Falco's 1982 debut album Einzelhaft. It became a major hit in Austria and several other countries thanks to the single "Der Kommissar." In the US, the song was ignored at Pop despite getting to #10 at Dance and #22 Rock. (It would become a hit in '83 when the band After the Fire did an English version of the song.) Falco's next LP, Junge Roemer, was only successful in his home country. Wanting to be a much bigger worldwide star, Falco hired new producers and worked with them to co-write his next LP Falco 3. In May of '85, this first single was issued out around Europe. It became enormously popular reaching #1 in many countries. As '86 began, the song started to get picked up in the US. Aided by a memorable MTV video, the single made a beeline for the #1 spot and ended up staying there for three weeks. It would also get to #4 Dance and #6 R&B. The hit boosted sales of the album and it would end up being a gold seller that reached #3. Falco finally had the hit that he wanted. Unfortunately, it would be his only Top 10 hit in the US. Although he would have far less memorable Top 20 follow-up, this song was so iconic that Falco got tagged as a one-hit wonder (#44 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders).

ReduxReview:  There were various versions of the song released. The one I'm most used to is the American Edit (above), which was the one used in the US for the single and for radio airplay. The video used the original "Gold Mix," which appeared on the European version of Falco 3. For the US version of the LP, the Gold Mix was replaced by a much longer 8 minute version called the Salieri Mix. That one includes an English language rundown of Mozart's life by date. Frankly, the dang thing is way too long. This is one tune that benefits from a good edit. Once it is down to the basics, the song is a lot of fun. Is it great? No way. Falco's goofy rap-sung delivery paired with the subject matter, German language, and the quirky video nearly put the song in novelty territory. However, a hooky chorus and solid production held the thing above water. It ended up being a cultural touch point with the tune being parodied and referenced many times including on The Simpsons.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Inspired by the 1984 Oscar winning film Amadeus, this song was written as a tribute to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The lyrics portray him as a bad boy rock-n-roll type that everyone celebrates despite his debts and other faults like womanizing. In the video, Falco dresses up like Mozart in a rainbow wig and joins up with a motorcycle gang.  2) This was the first German language song to reach #1 on the US Pop chart. In 1983, Nena came close to being the first with the song "99 Luftballons," but it stalled at #2. Falco was also the first Austrian-born artist to reach the top spot in the rock era.

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