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Music / Peter Schilling

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Peter Schilling (born Pierre Michael Schilling, January 28, 1956) is a German New Wave musician. Most of his albums deal with the future and are primarily based on science fiction.

His first album, Fehler im System / Error in the System (English), brought him into the spotlight with the song "Major Tom (Coming Home)", which was based on "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. The song achieved #1 in Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. After that, Schilling faded from the spotlight, though he continued to produce albums. Most of his songs are German only, but his early albums have both German and English versions of the same song - usually a direct translation.

His later albums introduce more techno/electronic elements, and he has released one relaxation album, ''Delight Factor Wellness'.


  • Fehler Im Sistem (German, 1982)/Error in the System (English, 1983)
  • 120 Grad (German, 1984)/Things to Come (English, 1985)
  • The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime) (English, 1989)
  • Geheime Macht (1993)
  • Sonne, Mond Und Sterne (1994)
  • Von anfangan...bis jetzt (1999)
  • Raumnot (2003)
  • Retrospektive (2004)
  • Zeitsprung (2004)
  • Delight Factor Wellness (2005)
  • Das Prinzip Mensch (2006)
  • Tauch Mit Mir...In Eine Neue Zeit...Das Beste Von (2003–2006, 2006)
  • Emotionen sind männlich (2007)
  • DNA (2014)
  • vis viva (2021)
  • Coming Home: 40 Years of Major Tom (2023)

Tropes below us, drifting, falling...

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In "Only Dreams":
    "But other computers talk about revenge, give instructions, give commands, unfeeling, uncaring."
  • Album Title Drop: "Error In The System" and "Things To Come". "The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime)" drops parts of the title in different places in the song.
  • Ancient Astronauts: "Error In The System" suggests that humanity was descended from them.
    "Far beyond the farthest corners of our stratosphere,
    While the planets go on spinning, we are banished here."
  • Anti-Christmas Song: His version of "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht".
  • Apocalypse How: "The Noah Plan" has the Earth's orbit falling into the sun. The tides reverse, and the atmosphere is blown away. "Terra Titanic" also suggests a similar global disaster in a metaphorical sense, equating the Earth to the Titanic.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A line from "Major Tom (Coming Home)".
    "Across the stratosphere, a final message: 'Give my wife my love.' Then nothing more."
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Implied with Major Tom near the end of "Major Tom (Coming Home)".
    "No one understands, but Major Tom sees. 'Now the light commands. This is my home. I'm coming home.'"
  • Atmosphere Abuse/Polluted Wasteland: "(Let's Play) U.S.A." cheerfully tells listeners this:
    "Go on and pollute the land. Clean air will be sold in cans."
  • Break-Up Song: "Chill Of The Night".
  • Can't Take Criticism/Trigger-Happy: In "(Let's Play) U.S.A.":
    "Won't it be a lot of fun? Every man will own a gun. Shoot the ones whose point of view makes a point that bothers you."
  • Christmas Songs: "Underwater Christmas", which is about sea life celebrating Christmas.
  • Crapsaccharine World/Disney Owns This Trope: Suggested in "(Let's Play) U.S.A.":
    "Did you hear the master plan? One nation under Disneyland."
  • Crapsack World: "I Have No Desire" paints the current world situation as this. "City Of Night (Berlin)" does this for the title city prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Death by Transceiver: The same story was covered in "Major Tom (Coming Home)". Subverted on this version as the next verse implies that the Major Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The singer of "I Have No Desire" is so depressed with what he hears going on in the world that he'd rather not want to get up in the morning and would remain retired to his room.
  • Down in the Dumps: The video for "Major Tom (Coming Home)" takes place in a junkyard, with Peter and his band sitting within a stack of old abandoned cars.
  • Eagleland: "(Let's Play) U.S.A." is a nasty version of The Boorish with a cheery pop beat.
  • The Evils of Free Will: In "Lifetime Guarantee":
    "In your mind is a foolish thought, a dangerous notion.
    To think on your own this way only stirs up emotion,
    And anyone so naive finds himself in trouble."
  • Face Death with Dignity: A line from "Terra Titanic".
    "...while the captain adjusts his tuxedo a bit, with his glass raised up high as the ice water hits."
  • Gratuitous German: Life's So Strong has an introduction in English and the chant "Life is so strong" is English, but halfway through the song, the rest of the lyrics abruptly become German.
  • Greatest Hits Album: "The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime)" for English audiences. Ironically, only "Major Tom (Coming Home)" was known to be a hit.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: In "The Noah Plan", the Earth's orbit decays as it drifts towards the sun, and the people on Earth prepare for evacuation by "returning to the universe".
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: In "Only Dreams":
    "Every day you sit near the TV. Who always gets the girl? Wish it were me.
    Every night you look out on the street, wanting to talk to the woman you see."
  • Instrumentals: "Major Tom, Part 2" from Error In The System, and all the songs from Delight Factor Wellness.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Only Dreams" and its German counterpart "...Dann Trugt Der Schein" both have the singing and the music start simultaneously.
  • Mind-Control Music: In "Lifetime Guarantee":
    "Harmonious melodies that sound familiar,
    Specialized in mind control;
    From computers they offer
    Less obvious merchandise for the believers."
  • Mondegreen Gag: In the video for "Major Tom (Coming Home)", the phrase "floating weightless" is interpreted as "floating waitress" as we see a bunch of roller-skating carhop waitresses circling around over a fog-covered floor near the end.
  • Mysterious Watcher: In "Error In The System":
    "Somewhere a computer records us from afar, looking for the error in the system on this star."
  • Scatting
    • The chorus of "I Have No Desire" and its German counterpart "Ich Hab' Keine Lust" consist of "ya de da, ya de da de da..."
    • "Only Dreams" and its German counterpart "...Dann Trugt Der Schein" have scatting during the middle part and the ending.
  • Scoring Points: The subject of "10,000 Points", addressing the video game craze of the early 1980s.
  • Shout-Out: "(Let's Play) U.S.A." mentions that Mickey Mouse is "alive and well in the White House".
  • Sole Survivor: The protagonist of "Lone Survivor" who isolates himself during a nuclear war in a "fortress made of steel", expecting to be this when the war ends. Near the end of the song, the people around the world post-war understand and begin correcting their mistakes, but "nobody knows about the lone survivor, so there can be no escape".
  • Speedy Techno Remake: "Major Tom '94" is one co-created by Boom-bastic, in both German and English.
  • Spoken Word in Music
    • "City Of Night (Berlin)" contains part of John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.
    • "The Noah Plan" has a spoken intro by the singer himself explaining the situation in the song.
  • Title Track: "Error In The System", "Things To Come", and "The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime)" for their respective albums in English; "Fehler Im System" and "120 Grad" for the German albums.
  • Virtual Celebrity: Possibly hinted at in "(Let's Play) U.S.A.":
    "Soon the robots we create will be starring on the Great White Way."
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: "Zone 804" is about visiting aliens that have come in peace to fix our world, but the world sees them as a threat and responds only with having missile silos open and standing by.