I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Kraftwerk -- Dentaku(電卓)

When I think about the early years of technopop, I usually think of two bands: Japan's Yellow Magic Orchestra and Germany's Kraftwerk.

Of course, YMO has gotten plenty of love on the blog over the years and it's gotten its fair share of worship overseas through fans, concerts and pop culture. "Rydeen" was used as the theme song for an Italian game show and got another boost of popularity recently due to the anime "Hibike! Euphonium"「響け! ユーフォニアム」, and then there was the whole mess of covers of "Behind The Mask".

But Kraftwerk has gotten the pop culture treatment as well. There was "The Simpsons" shoutout in one episode.

And for another example, late-night show host Craig Ferguson loved to take some good-natured pokes at the band on his old program. Furthermore, as was the case between YMO and "Hibike! Euphonium", there was also a glancing connection between Kraftwerk and the anime "Witchcraft Works".

But of course, I can't forget Mike Myers as Dieter on "Saturday Night Live" when he hosted "Sprockets" with a sped-up version of "Electric Cafe". Indeed, it is the time on "Sprockets" when we dance!

Therefore in the interests of good Japan-Germany (and Canada) technopop relations, I give you "Dentaku", i.e. "Pocket Calculator", their 1981 single and a track on their 8th album "Computer World" from May of that year.

Having my own Casio pocket calculator at the time, the happy and skippy rhythm and lyrics by 
Ralf Hütter, Emil Schult and Karl Bartos reflected my joy at possessing this slim form of super technology. Then again, I was out-tech'ed by my traveling companion on that 1981 trip to Japan when he got that Casio calculator wristwatch.😡 Mind you, purchasing that cherry-red Sony double-cassette recorder helped out a lot.

Not sure who provided the lyrics for the Japanese-language version but I wouldn't be surprised if Kraftwerk themselves pulled off the hard linguistic work. Their German-inflected delivery just adds all the more to the exotic feeling of their brand of technopop. I'm gonna have a hard time getting "Dentaku" out of my head tonight as I go to bed.

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