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What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

New Wave/Punk music, culture, genres, memories. '80s revivalism and other relevant topics.

What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby MissingPersons » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:36 pm

OK, I know it's a 70s album, but...anyway.


I'm speaking about, both the album and the single. Especially the album charted at #5 (!!!!) in the US charts, and the single was a US Top 40 Hit. In 1974 there was no MTV, so how on earth Kraftwerk made it in America?

Was it used in an American TV Commercial, TV series or in the OST of some movie? In the 80s it was all about MTV to make it in America. In the 70s it was all about touring I guess. But I don't recall Kraftwerk touring in America back then. Maybe I'm wrong.
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Re: What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby rewind » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:57 am

In the 70's Kraftwerk was receiving massive airplay on dance/funk (what were considered "urban" at the time) radio stations, such as WBLS and Kiss-FM in New York. That's what propelled them to the charts. It preceded the "New Wave" scene in America by several years.
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Re: What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby bpdp3 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:08 pm

I thought you were completely wrong about this until I checked for myself. This would be like you telling me the stooges or velvet underground were top 10 in the US.... yeah right!!

But you are indeed unbelievably correct. I was only 8 in '74 but really can't believe this would've been played on my small town top 40 radio. I'm dubious that any success on urban radio would've translated to bigger airplay nationwide. We as a nation just weren't that hip.

My theory is that it was viewed almost as a novelty, akin to Hot Butter's '72 song "popcorn". ("Woah, check out this weird song on them there crazy synthesizer thingamajigs")

I remember a lot of the music played in the early 70s and just don't think the US was sophisticated enough to put kraftwerk on the charts any other way. UNLESS it was maybe seen as cool stoner music ala Pink Floyd? Someone a little older and in- the-know will have to answer that.

Regardless,it was an anomaly. Certainly I've never heard any kraftwerk anywhere other than college radio. And ask anybody at your local supermarket if they know who kraftwerk is-- good luck!!!
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Re: What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby negative1 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:01 pm

Actually for me, forget about the 70's.

Since i've known about Kraftwerk in 1980 - computerworld.

I have NEVER heard them played on the radio once in 30 years plus.
I have NEVER heard them played in a club either, but 1 time I have heard 'Musique non stop' played as opening music before a concert, that's it.

In America, kraftwerk doesn't exist to radio stations, promoters, video, or anywhere else, except touring.


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Re: What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby MissingPersons » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:58 am

Oh let's not forget Gary Numan's Cars. It was a US Top 10 Hit and that was before the MTV days. Anyone old enough, who remembers how it was found during a time where the American airwaves were dominated either by bands like Foreigner or Styx or Traditional Disco acts like Chic and Gloria Gaynor?
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Re: What made Kraftwerk's Autobahn, a success in America?

Postby Jim2 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:31 am

Autobahn was played pretty regularly on my favorite AM station in the 70's, 13Q (pop music). I don't remember hearing it on any other station such as WAMO (R & B).
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