Der Musikladen was a West German television program running from 1972 to 1984, and one of the most diverse music-performance shows ever to grace the international boob-tube. It showcased an incredible array of artists, from Motörhead to Pat Boone to Ray Charles to Blondie. There’s a kind of low budget “fuck it” attitude that goes along with European variety TV that tends to promote a very pluralistic consumption of pop culture (plus it looks like, in the 70s and 80s at least, that they took what they could get).
However, in my opinion, the true legacy of Der Musikladen has nothing to do with their varied musical line-ups. No, the absolute best part of any episode was the go-go dancers, who simply cannot dance for shit. Yes, these Teutonic beauties are captivating, enthusiastic and totally charismatic, but their total lack of skill is mesmerizing. A dearth of coordination, the absence of any semblance of a symmetrical chorus line, and a general awkwardness is the essence of their charm. They literally appear to just be fun girls in skimpy outfits who maybe had a bit of schnapps before the show. Here are some of my favorite segments:
Above is a 1984 performance, and one of the last episodes ever broadcast. The ladies are dancing to Patto’s “Black and White.” Not to be confused with the English jazz-rock band from the 70s, this Patto is a duet of a white German and a black American rapper and the song is a sort of ham-fisted attempt at a rap-version of “Ebony and Ivory,” (which was already pretty ham-fisted to begin with). Needless to say, the track and the dancing are both pretty damning indictments of Germany’s ability to interpret hip-hop in a way that doesn’t make you shudder. But look how cute and happy the girls look in their leotards!
Admittedly, this 1978 segment is a much better use of their talents. First of all, the Michael Zager Band’s “Let’s All Chant” is a disco track, which is kind of their wheelhouse. Second of all, at least this particular line-up of women has some moves… or at least one move, anyway. Before you get too excited about the brunette knowing a step or two, notice they’re using those bitchen’ video effects to disguise the fact that they’re literally using the same footage over and over again. It’s maybe 20 seconds of dancing that they used weird zooms to stretch over an entire song. But who cares! Look at that hilarious weird shimmy the blonde woman does at 1:30!
And here we have some of the most incongruous choreography and costume choices known to god or man. This 1981 performance of Status Quo’s “Lies” suffers from somewhat the same problem as before: weird visual effects does nothing to disguise the fact that there are basically three poorly performed moves in the entire routine. The difference here is that the song is a Nick Lowe-style country influenced rocker, and it’s three and a half minutes long. That is two minutes longer than any go-go dancing segment should be, with the added confusion of a song that really doesn’t take well to go go dancers.
Let’s go out with a bang, shall we? Talk about, talk about, talk about CRAZY EYES, a confusing outfit, lip-syncing, and at 2:12, she even does “The Robot.” I’m out.