Top 10 Nina Hagen Songs

Nina Hagen Songs

Our top 10 Nina Hagen songs list presents ten of the best songs released by a multitalented German singer. Other than her singer-songwriter career, Nina Hagen is an actress featured in several films, including Ticket of No Return in 1979, Cha Cha in 1979, and The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993. Nina Hagen was inspired to sing and act by her mother, Eva-Maria Hagen. Her mother was also a reputable German actress and songster. Nina Hagen is one of the living influential German new wave and punk artists.

Nina Hagen’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough

Nina Hagen’s career beginnings were marked by joining the band Automobil. Among the most reputable songs, Nina Hagen released with the band include “Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen,” which translates to “You Forgot the Color Film.” Nina’s inspirational vocals made her attract major record labels, including CBS Records.

CBS Records offered Nina Hagen a recording deal which saw her sing in her own band, the Nina Hagen Band. The band’s eponymous debut LP saw Nina Hagen rise to stardom after critics lauded it, achieving mainstream success. Nina Hagen Band, issued in 1978, rose to the eleventh spot on the German Albums chart. The LP also made it to the Austrian and Dutch Albums charts.

Nina Hagen Band was Gold certified in Germany and Netherlands. Some of the best releases by the band on this LP include “TV-Glotzer,” “Auf’m Bahnhof Zoo,” and “Naturträne.” The Nina Hagen band later released its sophomore LP Unbehagen in 1979. Unbehagen reached number two on the German Albums chart, charting in Austria, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands.

The album featured some of the best Nina Hagen Band hits, including “African Reggae” and “Wir leben immer… noch,” a German cover to “Lucky Number” by Lene Lovich. Unbehagen was Nina Hagen’s last LP release with the Nina Hagen Band before pursuing her solo career. After leaving the Nina Hagen Band, the other band members continued releasing music under a new name Spliff.

Nina Hagen’s Album Releases over the Years

At the time Nina Hagen was issuing her debut solo LP, her name was already popular in the new wave and punk scene. The German singer went on to release her first solo LP NunSexMonkRock in 1982 under CBS Records. Her solo career seemed promising, having NunSexMonkRock catapult her to fame in the US. NunSexMonkRock peaked at number one hundred and eighty-four on the Billboard 200.

Thanks to her theatrical vocals and peculiar rock songs, Nina Hagen’s first solo LP was lauded by critics. “Antiworld” and “Smack Jack” are some of the best Nina Hagen songs from NunSexMonkRockFearless was Nina Hagen’s sophomore solo LP, issued in 1983. While her debut solo LP NunSexMonkRock featured more experimental rock and new wave elements, Fearless saw Nina Hagen appreciate some dance-pop sounds.

Fearless catapulted Nina Hagen to greater heights in her career, peaking at number one hundred and fifty-one on the Billboard 200. The album also managed to chart in Austria, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, and New Zealand. “New York New York” and “Zarah” are the best Nina Hagen songs from the LP Fearless.

Nina Hagen released music under CBS Records, this time issuing her third solo LP Nina Hagen in Ekstasy in 1985. Unfortunately, the LP didn’t reach the Billboard 200. Nevertheless, Nina Hagen in Ekstasy featured some of the best Nina Hagen songs, including “My Way,” “Universal Radio,” and “Spirit in the Sky.” This was her last LP released under CBS Records.

Later in 1989, Nina Hagen issued her fourth eponymous LP, Nina Hagen. The album also didn’t make it to the Billboard 200. However, it featured some of the best Nina Hagen songs, including “Love Heart Attack” and “Las Vegas.” Since then, Nina Hagen has released ten more studio albums. None of the albums was able to rise to the Billboard 200. Her most recent LP release is the 2011 studio album Volksbeat, released under Koch Records.

Nina Hagen’s Other Musical Pursuits

During her solo career, Nina Hagen released the song “Don’t Kill the Animals” with Lene Lovich. “Don’t Kill the Animals” is featured on the LP Animal Liberation by WaxTrax! Records. The album featured other artists, including Colour Field, Howard Jones, Shriekback, Attrition, and Luc Van Acker.

Nina Hagen’s Accolades and Legacy

While Nina Hagen doesn’t have a catalog of musical accolades to showcase, she remains one of the significant figures in the new wave and post-punk music scene. Her music also features Neue Deutsche Welle, experimental rock, and heavy metal. Throughout her career, Nina Hagen has been defined by her theatrical vocals and unconventional appearance.

Some music critics have referred to Nina Hagen as the Godmother of Punk. While her last albums might not have charted high, Nina Hagen remained a punk diva, never to be discounted. Here we present the best Nina Hagen songs of all time.

#10 – Personal Jesus

Ushering us to the top 10 Nina Hagen songs is the captivating hit “Personal Jesus.” The song serves as the album title track to Nina Hagen’s twelfth solo LP, issued in 2010. Despite being fifty-five at the time of the song’s release, Nina Hagen unleashed some of her best vocals on this four-minute song.

“Personal Jesus” by Nina Hagen is a cover version of Depeche Mode’s 1989 synth-rock ballad. The original version by Depeche Mode reached number twenty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100. While Nina Hagen’s version failed to chart, it helped rejuvenate her fame in the twenty-first century. Personal Jesus featured other cover songs from artists, including Elisha Hoffman, T-Bone Walker, Cleavant Derricks, and The Dixie Hummingbirds.

#9 – Go Ahead

In 1992, Nina Hagen released one of her most alluring hits, “Go Ahead.” The song is among her few single releases in her music career. “Go Ahead” had its dance version featured on Nina Hagen’s sixth LP Revolution Ballroom, issued in 1993. The accompanying music video of this track brings the best of Nina Hagen’s work of art. Her unconventional appearance and enthralling vocals add glamour to the song’s overall feel. “Go Ahead” is renowned for its use in the VW Polo advert.

#8 – Berlin

“Berlin” is one of the best anthemic Nina Hagen songs. The song finds the German singer-songwriter paying homage to her hometown Berlin. “Berlin” was penned by Nina Hagen, Billy Liesegang, and Andy Frazer. The song is featured on Nina Hagen’s fifth LP Street, issued in 1991.

“Berlin” brings the best of Zeus B. Held’s production work. The German producer has also successfully worked with other artists, including John Foxx, Birth Control, and Men Without Hats. “Berlin” showcases the beauty of Nina Hagen’s hometown. Later in 1998, Nina Hagen released “Eisern Union,” the official track to the Berlin-based football club 1. FC Union Berlin.

#7 – Spirit in the Sky

In 1969, the American singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum released his most reputable hit “Spirit in the Sky.” “Spirit in the Sky” instantly became a remarkable hit, featuring on thirty commercials and sixty films. Many artists have paid homage to this religious rock song, including Nina Hagen, Carl Wayne, Doctor & The Medics, and Gareth Gates.

Nina Hagen’s “Spirit in the Sky” cover is featured on her LP Nina Hagen in Ekstasy. Her version failed to top performance by the original version by Norman Greenbaum. The original version peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, rising to the peak of the UK Singles Chart.

#6 – Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt

Number six on our top 10 Nina Hagen songs list is the dazzling track “Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt.” “Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt” is a German phrase that translates to, “The wind told me a song.” The song finds Nina Hagen giving some of the best big band or jazz orchestra vibes.

“Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt” was initially released by the Swedish singer Zarah Leander. While Zarah Leander might have been Swedish, her music received critical acclaim in Germany. However, she lost her glory in the music industry after the Nazi politician Joseph Goebbels termed her an enemy of Germany. Nina Hagen featured her cover of “Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt” on her ninth LP Return of the Mother, issued in 2000.

#5 – My Way

Our number five spot on the top 10 Nina Hagen songs goes to the high-spirited hit “My Way.” The song is featured on the German singer’s last LP with CBS Records Nina Hagen in Ekstasy. Initially, “My Way” was released by the legendary American songer and chairman of the board we all knew as Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra has released other reputable hits such as “Strangers in the Night,” “Learnin’ the Blues,” and “In the Blue of the Evening.” However, this was not a Frank Sinatra original track. “My Way” was first released by the French pop singer Claude François. The song was also written by Paul Anka. I wonder what Paul Anka thought of this version.

#4- Universal Radio

“Universal Radio” is one of the best Nina Hagen songs that made it to the US charts. The song was penned by Ron Dumas and released on Nina Hagen’s thirds LP Nina Hagen in Ekstasy, issued in 1985. “Universal Radio” finds a balance between dance-pop and rock sound elements.

The song also features a German version released under the title “Universelles Radio.” Nina Hagen revealed not to have been in love with the song since she wanted to do its vocals differently compared to the label’s suggestion. Nevertheless, “Universal Radio” peaked at number thirty-nine on the US Dance Club Songs chart.

#3- Zarah

The third track on our top 10 Nina Hagen songs list is the exceptional hit “Zarah.” “Zarah” is a cover to Zarah Leander’s hit “Ich weiss, es wird einmal ein Wunder geschehen.” The original song’s title translates to “I know a miracle will happen one day.”

Zarah Leander released the song in 1942, featuring it in the German film The Great Love. Forty-one years later, Nina Hagen covered the song giving it the title “Zarah.” Nina Hagen featured the song on her 1983 LP Fearless/Angstlos. “Zarah” peaked at number forty-five on the US Dance Club Songs chart.

#2 – Smack Jack

“Smack Jack” is the perkiest release from Nina Hagen’s debut LP NunSexMonkRock, issued in 1982. The song was penned by Ferdinand Karmelk and produced by Mike Thorne. Mike Thorne has also produced music for Soft Machine, John Cale, Laurie Anderson, and Roger Daltry.

The song’s lyrics allude to drug addiction. Its writer Ferdinand Karmelk was an ex-lover to Nina and father to her daughter, voice actress Cosma Shiva. Ferdinand would later become an addict to heroin. Nina Hagen is featured on the song’s accompanying music video garbed like a man. “Smack Jack” is one of the best Nina Hagen songs that finds a balance between post-punk and new wave elements. The song peaked at number seven on the Norwegian music charts.

#1- New York New York

Number one on our top 10 Nina Hagen songs list is the stunning hit “New York New York.”  This is not the same song as the legendary Frank Sinatra song. The song is one of the German singer’s musical gems from the LP Fearless/Angstlos, issued in 1983. “New York New York” serves as the lead track to the 1983 LP. Nina Hagen collaborated with Karl Rucker and Steve Schiff in penning the lyrics to this hip-hop-influenced dance-punk track.

Nina Hagen showcases her vocal diversity by raping on the English version of the song. In this song, the German singer mentions several New York-based nightclubs of the era. This is probably one of the reasons “New York New York” was highly acclaimed in the US. The song peaked at number nine on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

Photo Dirk Herbert, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Nina Hagen Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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