Song of the Day: Kraftwerk – “Europe Endless”

Hey, just who is Ralf Hütter anyway? Good question, all of you in unison. Ralf Hütter (along with Florian Schneider) formed the German electronic group Kraftwerk in 1969, and he turns 70 years old on August 20th. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this enormously influential group that combined repetitive drones with catchy, pop-style hooks in truly unique way. It would be quicker to list the post-punk groups that don’t cite Kraftwerk as an influence, but a short sample would include Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Radiohead. The group helped to bring electronic music into the mainstream, but they did so without compromising anything. With their 1977 landmark record Trans-Europe Express, they provided droning grooves (which would be later incorporated into several hip-hip records, including Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock”) and memorable melodies that perfectly captured the intersection of kraut-rock and post-punk. The direction of music for the next 20 years would be forever changed, and mainstream electronica artists of today like Aphex Twin have Kraftwerk to thank for bringing this music to a wider audience. Fun fact: the German electronica group “Autobahn,” featured in the film The Big Lebowski, is a direct reference to Kraftwerk. “Autobahn” is even the name of one of their albums. So that’s fun. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself to Ralf Hütter and Kraftwerk via the track “Europe Endless.” You might not regret it, or at least not as much as the rest of your life.

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