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File:Kraftwerk.jpg

The classic lineup, from left to right: Wolfgang Flür, Karl Bartos, Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter


Kraftwerk is a German electronic group based in Düsseldorf, Germany, noted for such songs as "Autobahn", "The Robots", and "Trans-Europe Express". Originating in the highly experimental rock scene of 1970s West Germany, they're practically the Trope Maker of Electronic Music in general, being among the very first groups to begin experimenting making music electronically, starting in the early 1970's. They are directly responsible for for the existence of dance, techno, Industrial, EBM, Synth Pop, and even early Hip-Hop.

Their songs mainly have to do with technology ("Kraftwerk" is German for "Power Plant"). Their gimmick basically was that they were robots; Kraftwerk will often put on concerts and give interviews through robotic replicas of themselves. The robots became less and less human-like over the years.


Discography :

  • Kraftwerk (1970)
  • Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
  • Ralf und Florian (1973)
  • Autobahn (1974)
  • Radioactivity (1975)
  • Trans-Europe-Express (1977)
  • Die Mensch-Maschine (1978) [1]
  • Computerworld (1981)
  • Electric Café (1986) [2]
  • The Mix (1991)
  • Tour de France (2003)
  • Minimum-Maximum (2005) (Live album)

Tropes exemplified by Kraftwerk and their songs:

  • Author Appeal: Ralf Hütter loves cycling so much he and his band wrote a song about the biggest race in cycling completed with sampled voices and mechanical sounds associated with cycling. They even go further by writing an album about it.
    • Hütter suffered a cycling accident that left him in a coma during the initial sessions for Techno Pop (the album that became Electric Café), and Karl Bartos once mentioned that the first thing Hütter said after waking up was "Where's my bicycle?" although Hütter begged to differ,
  • Beeping Computers: "Pocket Calculator"
  • Bilingual Bonus: While they translate many of their songs into foreign languages, some songs are done in two separate languages:
    • "The Robots": "Я твои слуга, я твои работник." "I'm your slave, I'm your worker."
    • "Numbers" includes numbers spoken in several different languages.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer/Reclusive Artist: They rarely give interviews. They usually uses dummies or custom-made robots for promo photo shoots instead of themselves. All we know about their studio is its name. They are also extremely hard to contact with. For example, their studio telephone didn't have a ringer because they considered it a "noise pollution" during recording. If you really wanted to contact them they would instruct you to precisely call at a certain time, and Ralf Hütter would answer the call himself despite there was no phone ring.
    • Allegedly, Chris Martin of Coldplay contacted them (through their lawyers) to request permission to sample "Computerliebe..." and got just a piece of paper with "Yes" written on it.
  • Concept Album: All of their studio albums since 1975, to some degree. Though it's being done most consistently on Radio-Activity, Computerworld and Tour de France Soundtracks.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Basically everything before Autobahn is quite a bit different from their later work.
  • Epic Rocking: The 24 minute long Autobahn.
  • Germanic Efficiency: If you've ever wondered what Germanic Efficiency sounds like, this is it.
    • They wanted to make music that sounded like 70s Germany, in the same way that the music of The Beach Boys sounded like early 60s California.
  • Hall of Mirrors: The title of one of their songs, which is of course about a hall of mirrors.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Ralph Hutter has disowned their first three albums as "prehistoric", and thus they will never be legally reprinted.
    • Although it seems that Hutter has had a change of mind recently, with hints that they might be restored and made available sometime after they release another studio album.
  • Kraut Rock: They were classified as this in their early years, back before they started using exclusively electronic instruments.
  • Looped Lyrics
  • Mood Whiplash: Occasionally they'd throw in a love song on their albums, such as "The Model", "Computer Love" and "Sex Object" (though that last one is more of an Anti-Love Song), quite a shift from singing about robots, pocket calculators and radioactivity.
  • Old Shame: All pre-Autobahn material has been disowned as "prehistoric".
  • One-Hit Wonder: In the United States, they only have one Top 40 hit: A severely edited version of their 25-minute opus "Autobahn".
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: On The Mix version of Trans-Europe Express. Orchestration in their music is very rare, but it was of course a synthesized organ.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: A few of their album covers.
  • Poetic Justice: The single Tour de France was supposed to have been issued as the first single from the album Techno Pop, before the production work on the album had been completed. The album was shelved when Ralf ended up in a coma from a cycling accident.
  • Protest Song: "Radioactivity." Later live versions, and the version from the 1991 album The Mix, make it an explicitly anti-nuclear anthem, specifically the proposed second processing plant at the Sellafield processing site in Seascale, England:
Cquote1.svg

  Sellafield-2 will produce 7.5 tons of plutonium every year. 1.5 kilogram of plutonium make a nuclear bomb. Sellafield-2 will release the same amount of radioactivity into the environment as Chernobyl every 4.5 years. One of these radioactive substances, Krypton-85, will cause death and skin cancer.

Cquote2.svg
    • "It's in the air, for you and me."
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Happened at least twice. For its initial 1983-1990 run, the Edutainment show Newton's Apple used "Ruckzuck" (from their long-disowned debut album) as its theme (it was replaced for the home soundtrack due to licensing issues), and the Saturday Night Live sketch "Sprockets" used a sped up version of "Electric Café"'s first couple of seconds.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Perhaps at some point in the early to mid-seventies, but as time went on their robot personas became less and less human.
  • Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: See above.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their first two albums.
  • Speedy Techno Remake: Their remake of Autobahn on their album of self-made remakes, The Mix. It is speedy only in comparison though, given that they've taken the original version which was over twenty minutes long and condensed it to only over nine minutes long, by making it a little faster.
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: Or rather, synthetic singer, in many of their songs.
  • Title-Only Chorus
  • Trope 2000: The single Expo 2000, filled with repeating soundbytes of different voices saying "das einundzwanzigsten jahrhundert"/"the twenty-first century" throughout.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: "Wirrr sind die Roboterrrrr"
  • Zeerust: Some of their older works sounded futuristic at the time but are somewhat dated now, or they've already come true, like Computer World.
    • The version of "Computer World" on the 2005 live album Minimum-Maximum still references the KGB.
  1. An English version was released titled "The Man Machine".
  2. It was originally named Techno Pop, and was rereleased in 2009 with that title.
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