Autobahn and Heimatklänge: soundtracking the FRG

Sean Albiez, Kyrre Tromm Lindvig

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The year 1975 saw an unusual entry into the pop charts in several countries on both sides of the Atlantic. In the bestseller lists usually dominated by Anglo-American popular music a new kind of hit arrived. It was a song about driving along the autobahn, Germany?s extended motorway system, with an intro consisting of slamming car doors, an engine starting and heavily vocoded voices. Then a slow synth bass line entered with a sixteenth-note half-time shuffle feel before the vocal began ? in German. Though perhaps viewed initially as a novelty or simple aberration, Kraftwerk and ?Autobahn?came to be understood as a signpost indicating the direction popular music would take in the ensuing decades on the international stage. This study will analyses how Kraftwerk as West German trespassers positioned themselves in the Anglo-American-dominated idiom of pop music at the time. It places special emphasis on the manner in which they engaged with issues of (West) German identity within the 1974 Autobahn album, and in encounters with the music press outside the Federal Republic of Germany(FRG) in the aftermath of their international success. It also suggests it is important to view Kraftwerk?s allusions to essentialist Germanic stereotypes in the mid 1970s and since as self-aware, satirical and ironic critiques of socially constructed markers of Germanness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationKraftwerk
    Subtitle of host publicationMusic Non-Stop
    PublisherBloomsbury Continuum
    ISBN (Print)9781441191366
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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