"99 Red Balloons" as written by and Joern-uwe/karges Fahrenkrog-petersen....
You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one they were gone
Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message "something's out there!"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine decision street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine knights of the air
Ride super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go


Lyrics submitted by ups_and_downs

"99 Red Balloons" as written by Carlo Karges Joern-uwe Fahrenkrog-petersen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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99 Red Balloons song meanings
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  • +7
    General Commentactually i believe its for people who know the version of this song that is english. just because people don't speak german doesnt mean they are stupid. why should people know every language? and why do people have to critisise other people? and did Nena not sing an english version herself? yes i believe she did. so whos the stupid person now, ignorant C U Next Thursday
    neurotic_chickon May 08, 2005   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI don't know why we're comparing both versions here, but I happen to like the message of this song. To me it's all about paranoia of the cold war. A simple thing like a pack of red balloons becomes a threat and the defenses going to extremes about it.

    In the end, she says that she had 99 dreams, but they were all destroyed because of the war, exept for 1. That dream involves "you". Even though war can destroy many things, it cannot destroy love.
    priestpiloton November 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"neurotic chick" is quite right - the song was re-recorded with the above lyrics after the German version was shown on British TV and became a surprise hit. As "Rodman1977" correctly pointed out, it IS a bad translation (as far as being a literal translation of the German lyric is concerned), but it's what British pop fans in the 1980s heard, know and continue to interpret. Several of my friends at the time commented on how significant it was that they were RED balloons (= the perceived Communist threat). I pointed out that the original song said nothing about their colour and that the word "red" had probably been simply added to make the lyrics scan (German "Luftballon" = English "balloon"). That deflated them.
    butterfingersbeckon June 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentU cant make a song that is a direct translation from a song in a different language. In case you didnt notice something that rhymes and sounds good in german doesnt in english
    Dools_1171on December 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyea robomatt.. like anyone is gonna believe THAT
    fantastic toasteron March 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThe German version is more effective because, unlike the English translation (by one of Kate Bush's songwriters, not the band itself), it's a fantasy story that only allegorically refers to the Cold War.

    In the German version, a general decides to shoot down the balloons in a big show of patriotism. All of the neighboring countries misinterpret it, diplomacy fails, and the world is embroiled in 99 years of everyone-against-everyone warfare. That's obviously not something that could happen in real-life 1983, but it makes you consider the threat of living in a world poised on the edge of war.

    In the English version, the balloons trigger a faulty Soviet early-warning system, which leads to a minutes-long nuclear war between the US and USSR. That's exactly the kind of thing everyone woke up worrying about in 1984 (in fact, it almost happened in September 1983, although nobody in the west knew that at the time). It's clearly criticizing the Kremlin for being on a hair-trigger, and Reagan for putting them there. There's no universality, and no imagination; as the band put it, it's "too blatant" and "too strident".
    falcotronon September 05, 2016   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI first heard this song in 7th grade German class. Our teacher played it to us, and it haunted me for a long time.
    He told us a story with it-

    The song is about how, when Germany separated into two, they would only let letters that had read a censored go to the people on the other sides. If people said 'im safe and happy' in their letter, then the people who went through the letters might black that out because they didn't want the people on their side of the wall thinking the other side was better.
    People started realizing that their family on the other side of the wall(because yes there was a giant-ass wall between the two sides of Germany) wernt getting their full messeges, and started to come up with other ways to communicate.
    The song tells a story of how someone sent up a bunch of balloons to try and communicate to their family members on the other side that they were safe.
    Unfortunetly, some sensors from the other half of Germany picked up the balloons, and thought, 'oh my gosh their sending bombs over!' and started a full out freakin war.
    Everyone was notified of it, and a ton of fighters were sent up, and everyone was bombing each other, the people were in a panic. No one knows exactly what caused this, and everyones confused, and the military from one side thinks theyre helping because no one knows who started it and theyre all like 'yay progress!' but all like 'wait whats going on'.
    Finally, the war ends, and everything is a mess, and everything is destroyed, INCLUDING parts of the wall! After years and years, families are reuniting, friends are seeing eachother again.

    So, yeah. Thats what my middle school German teacher told us. Dont know it thats correct, but hey, there ya go.
    My guess is that 'balloons' is a metaphor for hope, and she kept sending hope out but her hope caused trouble, and then the war destoryed it all. In the end, she only had one left, but let it go because she had given up.
    thewildjakeon November 28, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere's the literal translation (dont thank me - i asked someone who speaks German to translate it for me)

    Do you have some time for me
    then I’ll sing a song for you

    About 99 balloons

    On their way to horizon



    Do you think of me right now?

    Then I’ll sing a song for you

    About 99 balloons

    And that things arise from something like this



    99 balloons on their way to horizon

    were taken for ufos from space

    therefore a general

    sent a flying squadron after

    to alarm in case it was like that

    altough on horizon there were only 99 balloos



    99 jet fighters

    everyone was a great warrior

    took themselves for Captain Kirk

    there were great fireworks

    the neighbours didn’t get it

    and felt pissed

    at the same time

    people shot 99 balloons at the horizon



    99 ministers for war

    match and jerrycan

    took themselves for smart people

    already scented huge haul

    shouted: Kring and wanted to have power

    Man, who would have thought of that

    That it will lead us so far

    Because of 99 balloons



    99 years of war

    left no space for winners

    there are no ministers for war no more

    as well as jet fighters

    today I’m walking around

    found a ballon

    think of you and let it fly

    so much better then the english version.. dont you agree?
    sirpsychosexyon July 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpersonally, i think that the english version of the song manages to convey far more meaning than that of the German one. At the end of the english song you are left with an actual discription of the destruction and it shows that two little children were the two innocents who caused the war.
    ianwoolseyon September 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHEY thats right i'm talking to you sirpychosexy god don't you think that nena's version is better jeez
    Kinkyon January 08, 2006   Link

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