• Morgan Fagg

99 Nuclear Balloons

Updated: Aug 16, 2019


Have you got some time for me?

Warning: May cause World War 3


The other day I was talking to a Spanish executive about 80s music and we got talking about Nena´s 99 Red Balloons which I described to him as a beautiful innocent song about anarchy and World War 3. He looked at me confused and it is possible I read too much into things but I am sure many people like mi amigo nevuo, just hear, “La la la Red Balloons.”

You know the song 99 Luft Balloons or the English version 99 Red Balloons but have you ever listened to the lyrics? More Luftwaffe than luft balloon, those 99 balloons that she buys “with the money we got” unleashes a nightmarish Cold War doomsday scenario.


This song does not require much interpretation or to even read between the lines,

“This is it boys, this is war as 99 Red Balloons go by” should paint the picture of the German girl’s World War 3 vision which is easy to imagine if we walk a mile of the Berlin Wall in her German Schuhe.

Starting her career in 1982, a time when England was sending V Force´s nuclear bombers to Argentina and a nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser, the General Belgrano and shortly before President Reagan first suggested his Star Wars program.

Nena performed the popular nuclear ballad of balloons popping all over the world. We have to remember the days of Checkpoint Charlie when Russian forces and American tanks smiled at each other while awaiting the green light, to attack. The Berlin border where soldiers shot civilians trying to cross European borders was a powder keg the world hoped wouldn't explode.

Luckily a series of world leaders opposed the Berlin Wall from “Ich bin ein Berliner” JFK to “Tear down this wall” Ronald Reagan.


Civilians inside the Russian controlled Berlin would wait to crash their Soviet Trabants into the wall and taste both chocolate and freedom.


I am sure her Berlin surroundings inspired the young Nena. Berliner Nena sang the bilingual song from a city divided by walls and surrounded by Eastern and Western tanks.

99 Luft balloons or the translated version 99 Red Balloons paint the picture of people taking the money they have and buying 99 red balloons and setting them off at the break of dawn.

In the song the military panics and confuses the harmless balloons as something on their radar.

The blips on the computer are a threat and just like a blimp, airships were the original world war bomber with Zeppelins used to terrorise.


Balloons aren’t so harmless you see. The Japanese designed balloons to bomb America and even succeeded in killing a handful of people and Roswell New Mexico saw weather balloons become the focus of alien conspiracy since 1947 and Billionaire Branson has infested heavily in high altitude balloons while Felix Baumgardner skydived to earth in one.

99 Balloons do represent a serious threat as we consider the armageddon scenarios in Colorado and Russia where faulty sensors showed that thousands of ICBMs were inbound which of course leads to MAD consequences. MAD standing for Mutual Assured Destruction where death is assured of anyone who fires the first missile.

On several sad occasions, the world has had to take some MAD decisions.


Deep in the hallowed out Cheyenne Mountain Complex, computers read 0000002 which indicated 2 inbound nuclear missiles which later turned to 2000000 indicating a considerable first strike from the Russians.


Depending on the cool hands that work underground, the outcome could be quite grave and that sort of computer glitch could end all life on earth if for example that happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis for example or a Trump presidency.


Ok I am exaggerating, all life wouldn’t end. I am sure penguins would be fine. Polar bears sadly have their own problems without thermal nuclear weapons detonating in our atmosphere.

Yes balloons are nice but don’t misunderstand the song. It would be like showing Stephen King’s IT to a children´s party. Yes balloons and clowns are childish but Nena´s 99 Red Balloons or 99 Luft balloons tells a different tale.


Starting with the lines Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich which I believe means have you got some time for me, the opening lines to the original version of the song, 99 Red Balloons lyrics include:

To worry, worry, super scurry

Call the troops out in a hurry

This is what we've waited for

This is it boys, this is war

The President is on the line

As ninety nine red balloons go by


The song ends on the happy note of her letting off a ballon in the dust that was once a city and I am sure she means World War 3 and the city of Berlin where tanks faced off against the Berlin Wall was anything but pretty. Pity.

Ninety nine dreams I have had

In every one a red balloon

It's all over and I'm standing pretty

In this dust that was a city

If could find a souvenir

Just to prove the world was here

And here is a red balloon

I think of you and let it go


I obviously have a warped mind to read anything more into this song but when for example

David Cameron says he can’t captain this ship in a post Brexit world at the same time the nuclear submarine HMS Ambush makes port in British controlled Gibraltar in Spain. I wonder how cool minded world leaders are today especially when we look at President Trump’s reaction to the Trump baby ballon over London which almost kept him away from London completely.

This is it boys, this is war as 99 red balloons go by.


I’ve Got 99 problems but a balloon’s not one.


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© 2018 by Morgan Fagg.