Music: Klaus Nomi

You don't know me, I'm not one of your little toys
You don't own me, don't say I can't play with other boys
And don't tell me what to do, don't tell me what to say
Please, when I go out with you, don't put me on display because
You don't know me, don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me, don't tie me down, 'cause I'd never stay

Klaus Nomi is...

Well,

Um.

He just is.

Klaus Nomi (real name: Klaus Sperber) was a falsetto New Wave cover singer, performance artist and pastry chef who rose to fame in the 1970s. Raised in Germany (and coming from outer space), he started out singing operatic arias in vaudeville shows before becoming one of the most lauded New Wave talents of the era. Sadly, he became a victim of Executive Meddling, and eventually lost control over most of his music. Even more tragic was his early death at age 39 from AIDS, being one of the first celebrities to die from the disease.

He cited Elvis Presley and Maria Callas as his biggest influences, and it shows — his cover songs are a delicate balance between rock and opera, with a strong New Wave vibe. He appeared on Urgh! A Music War. where he performed his Signature Song, "Total Eclipse" (which was recently covered by Nina Hagen). He also worked with David Bowie (as a backup singer for Bowie's first Saturday Night Live appearance in 1979), and they inspired each other's wardrobes for a short while.

Klaus Nomi still has a massive fanbase, and is considered by many to be New Wave's best example of Doing It for the Art.

The only person to even come close to his brand of "postmodern theatricality" is Lady Gaga, who cites him as an influence. It shows.

... And he sang The Wizard Of Oz.

Discography


The works of Klaus Nomi contain examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: "Total Eclipse" and "After the Fall" both deal with the apocalypse. The main difference is the first song just decides to accept the end of Earth and dance before it happens, while the second song sings that life will go on somehow.
  • Anonymous Band: Initially, Klaus's band all wore black and ski masks to avoid distracting the audience from Klaus's theatrics. Then they realized it wasn't a problem.
    • Averted for the Urgh! performance, which featured a band in weird white outfits, much to the original band's disgust.
  • Anti-Love Song: "You Don't Own Me".
  • Countertenor Boy: Nomi didn't just put up a funny voice: he was actually trained as a counter tenor singer.
  • Cover Version: Many. "Lightning Strikes," originally by Lou Christie, "The Twist," originally by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, "You Don't Own Me," originally by Lesley Gore, "Just One Look," originally by Doris Troy, "Falling in Love Again," originally by Marlene Dietrich, "Can't Help Falling in Love," originally by Elvis Presley, "I Feel Love," originally by Donna Summer. "Ding Dong The Witch It Dead", originally from The Wizard of Oz. And the opera songs.
    • Lou Christie was so impressed by Klaus's version of "Lightning Strikes," he wanted to work on a space opera with Klaus.
  • The Cover Changes The Gender: Spectacularly averted with "You Don't Own Me": "Don't say I can't play with other BOYS!".
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Total Eclipse", about nuclear disaster taking place, but Nomi invites everybody to just sing and dance a final time.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "From Beyond," "High Wire," "Fanfare".
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Samson and Delilah (Aria)" seems to end, but then a space rocket sound is heard, after which the song closes for real.
  • Gratuitous French: "Samson and Delilah (Aria)," "Enchante".
  • Hey Lets Put On A Show: After his first performance at the New Wave Vaudeville, Ann Magnuson asked people who didn't even know Klaus to start a band for him.
  • Iconic Outfit: His tuxedo suit, big black tie, white make-up, black lipstick and hair stuck up straight.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Several instances of Nomi/Know me.
  • Incredibly Long Note: "The Cold Song" ends with one.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The Za Bakdaz album.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Samson and Delilah (Aria)" ends with a UFO takeoff.
    • He does this twice in a row on his first album. The otherwise calm Nomi Chant becomes a Scare Chord in it's last second, and his rendition of the aria "Mon coeur c'ouvre a ta voix" from Samson and Delilah ends with what can only be described as him getting back in his space ship and taking off. It makes sense in his live shows.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Klaus is... pop music covering opera performance art with heavy reliance on synthesizers? Let's just say it's New Wave.
  • New Wave: The genre he's most closely associated with.
  • Opera: He was a countertenor and thus could sing quite high.
  • One Countertenor Wail: "From Beyond" and it's reprise, "Return."
  • Power Ballad: New Wave Power Ballad!
  • Protest Song: "You Don't Own Me", a Lesley Gore cover, where the protagonist sings about how his lover doesn't have to right to rule him.
  • Rearrange the Song: Nomi covered songs, both from pop and classical music, in ways that sound extremely bizarre and otherwordly.
  • Revolving Door Band: The original band is not the album band is not the Urgh! band.
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Total Eclipse"
    Total eclipse! It's a total eclipse!
  • Rockumentary: The Nomi Song.
  • Scare Chord: "Nomi Chant" ends with one.
  • Self-Titled Album: His debut album: Klaus Nomi
  • Song Of Song Titles: In "After the Fall" from Simple Man
    So I told you about the total eclipse now, but still it caught you unawares...
  • The Song Remains the Same: Despite his tendency to Rearrange the Song, the opera pieces are left basically untouched.
  • Stage Names: He's really Klaus Sperber.
  • The Something Song: "Nomi Song" and "The Cold Song".
  • Title Track: "Simple Man" from Simple Man and "Za Bakdaz" from the never finished project he worked on before his death.
  • Touched by Vorlons: He pretended to be from outer space in his lyrics. Not that odd considering he was once a back-up singer for David Bowie.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Cre Spoda, "Za Bakdaz," and most of that album, really. Also, the album version of the Samson and Delilah aria isn't actually French.