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Music: Kraftwerk
The classic lineup, from left to right: Wolfgang Flür, Karl Bartos, Will Forte... er, sorry, 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 the existence of Dance music, from Techno, Industrial and EBM to Synth Pop and even early Hip-Hop.

Their songs mainly have to do with technology ("Kraftwerk" is German for "Power Plant"). Their gimmick 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 :

  • Tone Float (1969 - as Organisation)note 
  • Kraftwerk (1970)
  • Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
  • Ralf und Florian (1973)
  • Autobahn (1974)
  • Radioactivity (1975)
  • Trans-Europe-Express (1977)
  • Die Mensch-Maschine (1978)note 
  • Computerworld (1981)
  • Electric Café (1986)note 
  • The Mix (1991)
  • Tour de France (2003)
  • Minimum-Maximum (2005) (Live album)


Tropes exemplified by Kraftwerk and their songs:

  • Affectionate Parody: A recurring comedy sketch on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson called "Einen Moment Mit Kraftwerk" has Craig and another actor dress up as Ralf and Florian and engage in brief, very weird conversations.
  • Animated Music Video: Musique Non-Stop, one of the first computer animated videos.
  • 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?". Hütter denied Bartos' account, but did admit that it made for a good story.
  • Banned in China: They weren't allowed to tour in China due to supporting the "Free Tibet" movement.
  • Beeping Computers: "Pocket Calculator."
    "By pressing down a special key, it plays a little melody."
  • Bilingual Bonus: While they translate many of their songs into foreign languages, particularly when performing for the host nation, some songs are done in two separate languages:
    • "The Robots": "Я твой слуга, я твой работник." "I'm your servant, I'm your worker."
    • "Numbers" includes numbers spoken in several different languages.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer/Reclusive Artist: They rarely give interviews. They usually use 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. For example, their studio telephone didn't have a ringer because they considered it "noise pollution" during recording. If you really wanted to contact them they would instruct you to call precisely at a certain time, and Ralf Hütter would answer the call himself even though 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.
  • Development Hell: Kraftwerk has been teasing a new album since 2003. While long absences aren't uncommon for the band (for instance after 1991's The Mix they basically went missing for nearly a decade), the fact that in the time since their last album founding member Florian Schneider quit leaves this new album's fate uncertain, as much as Ralf Hütter insists it's coming year after year.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Basically everything before Autobahn is quite a bit different from their later work.
  • Epic Rocking: The 24 minute long Autobahn.
  • Every Episode Ending: Ever since their 1990 tour, Musique Non-Stop has closed all regular Kraftwerk concerts. Part Meaningful Name, this also gives each band member a brief solo before he leaves the stage. With the current stage layout, it's also the only indication of what each of the band members actually do during a concert.
  • 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: Ralf Hütter has disowned their first three albums as "prehistoric", and thus they will never be legally reprinted.
    • Although it seems that Hütter 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. In fact, the members of Neu! were members of Kraftwerk first, and played on the first Self-Titled Album.
  • Looped Lyrics/Title Only Chorus: Several songs, almost the majority of them in fact.
  • Machine Monotone: Emulated in the vocals of some of their songs, most prominently, "The Robots."
  • 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.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A common theme, although the best-known examples would be Autobahn and Pocket Calculator.
    • The counter-example would be "Trans-Europe Express", which makes traveling to hang out with David Bowie and Iggy Pop sound about as exciting as buying groceries.
    • Florian went asparagus shopping with Iggy Pop, after they met.
  • Old Shame: All pre-Autobahn material has been disowned as "prehistoric". Thus, their career-spanning boxed set contains all complete albums EXCEPT the first four, which have never officially been released on CD, despite Hütter's suggestions that they may someday.
    • That isn't to say that CD versions aren't common - a German outfit called Crown Records released superb, vinyl-dubbed CD's of the first four, Tone Float included (and re-credited to Kraftwerk).
  • 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.
    • Intentionally invoked in the remastered CD editions (which originated with the Catalogue box), as the cover artwork for each album is reduced to a single, incredibly simple, large icon.
    • Both Kraftwerk and Kraftwerk 2 depicted only a simple drawing of a road cone, which nonetheless became iconic. The same image was used for each LP albeit re-colored, allowing fans to nickname the albums "Red Cone" (Kraftwerk) and "Green Cone" (Kraftwerk 2).
      • Bootleggers took this even further - a bootleg edition of Ralf und Florian replaces the original cover depicting the two artists with a blue cone to match the first two albums. And to complete the 'cone' quadrilogy, one version of the bootleg K4 (a live performance of otherwise-unavailable material recorded between the first two self-titled albums) depicts a yellow cone on its cover!
  • 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:
    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.
    • "It's in the air, for you and me."
    • In 2012, Kraftwerk started performing an altered version of Radioactivity with new, Japanese lyrics concerning Fukushima.
  • 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 upnote  version of "Electric Café"'s 'chorus' melody.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Perhaps at some point in the early to late 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.
  • Standard Snippet: Any TV item about postwar Germany (unless soundtracked with schlager music) is pretty much guaranteed to make heavy use of "Autobahn".
  • The Stoic: A staple of their robot-like personas.
  • 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 einundzwanzigste jahrhundert"/"the twenty-first century" throughout.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: "Wirrr sind die Roboterrrrr"
  • What Could Have Been: Michael Jackson asked Kraftwerk for a collaboration at one point, yet Kraftwerk could afford to reject his proposal.
  • 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.


King CrimsonCreator/Warner Bros. RecordsLarry The Cable Guy
KnorkatorGerman MediaKraut Rock
Knife PartyMusicians/Electronic IndustrialLadytron
KISSThe SeventiesLed Zeppelin

alternative title(s): Kraftwerk
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