Dieter Bohlen - Dieter feat. Bohlen: Das MEGA Album! (Review)

Martin_Canine
DIETER BOHLEN
Dieter feat. Bohlen: Das MEGA Album!
★☆☆☆☆

Embarrassing re-recordings without heart, without soul

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Dieter Bohlen is approximately one of the five most famous celebrities in the German language world. He wrote no less than 22 number one hits on the German single charts, far more than anyone else (followed by Capital Bra [who will likely expand his amount of chart toppers in the near future as he's currently hyped and highly prolific] and Kurt Feltz with 15 each, and Paul McCartney with 14), and not a single day goes by where he isn't all over TV. The Modern Talking singles You're My Heart, You're My Soul, Cheri Cheri Lady and Brother Louie, as well as a bunch of others, are easily among the most famous songs that every kid knows, and were extremely successful all over Europe. He even wrote and produced music for international superstars like Bonnie Tyler and Chris Norman (and even a song by the highly respected Dionne Warwick). And yet, everybody seems to hate him - especially in the 21st century, where he was more present than ever. The decline of his reputation and expansion of his fame both go hand in hand with the rise of talent search shows. He is the only constant judge on both Deutschland sucht den Superstar (German branch of the American Idol franchise) and Das Supertalent (America's Got Talent), and usually writes the music for the winners. The shows still run very successfully, much more than in most other countries. In the show, he more or less has Simon Cowell's role of being brutally honest, but in a much more comic (and sometimes vulgar) fashion. The shows are equally popular and hated, and so are the songs by the winners - mostly because unlike in the 20th century, Bohlen puts audibly little effort into making them. As a very paradox result, it both retrospectively destroyed his status as a talented pop songwriter and made him an immortal figure of German pop culture.

Now, in 2019, Dieter Bohlen decides to grab the mic himself once again and cover several of his many hit songs originally written for others. The album this resulted in is titled Dieter feat. Bohlen: Das MEGA Album!. I don't think I need to translate that (the "Das" is interesting though, as the collection consists solely of English language songs). To cut a long story short: the record is horrifyingly bad, and shows everything wrong about Bohlen's recent output, but pushed to comic extremes. Included is material originally performed by Modern Talking, Pietro Lombardi, Mark Medlock, Chris Norman, Alexander Klaws, the DSDS Season One cast and Blue System, only the latter having already had Bohlen on the lead vocals. And if there is one thing known to the public - including himself, as he stated this on several occasions - it is that Bohlen can't sing. And wow, does it show on here.

The album immediately starts off with the best song: You're My Heart, You're My Soul gets a lush disco makeover whose entertaining extravaganza even overshadows the bad vocals for a brief moment. Although it's in no way as great as the original, it's okay. However, the next tune makes it perfectly clear what we're actually in for: Atlantis is Calling (S.O.S. For Love) is musically very similar to the classic version that topped the charts in the 80s, only with slightly more modern drum kits (that is turn-of-the-millennium italo disco style). Although Bohlen is the more famous half of the duo, this new rendition shows much Thomas Anders' silky smooth crooning contributed to the band's trademark sound (Bohlen was responsible for the music, Anders for the singing). Bohlen's thin, nasal, hoarse voice certainly attempts to convey emotion, but ultimately it sounds like a HQ recording of a karaoke party. And that sums up much of the album: for the most part, we get the tunes we already know (and perhaps love), but badly sung. Anders is no Sinatra, but he was very convincing in what he did, and carried the Modern Talking tracks like a born popstar, which Bohlen never does. It shows even more when the original artist of the respective song is a great vocalist: and so, Now or Never (by Mark Medlock) and Take Me Tonight (by Alexander Klaws) sound especially awkward performed by someone whose singing ability is far below average. Although his voice is constantly off-key, Midnight Lady (originally by Chris Norman), one of the most acclaimed songs he's written, stands out because Bohlen is able to show some genuine emotion there. In contrast, the low point however is very clearly Cheri Cheri Lady. How is it worse than the other Modern Talking covers you may ask? Well… earlier in 2019, Capital Bra, the current wunderkind of German hip hop who surpassed the Beatles' record of having the most number one hits on the German charts (and did so in less than one year) made a trap cover of the song called Cherry Lady, with German lyrics. This rendition became a massive hit in German language territory, and… well… Bohlen decides to mashup the two versions of the track. The result is that we get to hear Bohlen singing the English lyrics drenched in thick Autotune over a tropical house/trap beat for about a minute before an updated remake of the original kicks in. This minute is not just bad. It's disastrous. It's like a middle aged man not understanding the zeitgeist but desperately wanting to sound cool by imitating the newest trends.

Overall, Dieter feat. Bohlen: Das MEGA Album! is one of the most unnecessary records of the decade. Its music adds barely anything new to the well known hits, and the most obvious new thing - the vocals - are anything but an improvement. In every single case, the original song is by far superior, but at least these new recordings make you appreciate the many classics this man was responsible for in the last forty years all the more. But you're far better off with the Modern Talking albums.

Comments

In case anybody is interested, these are the 22 number one hits in Germany that Dieter Bohlen has written so far:

Modern Talking - You're My Heart, You're My Soul (1984)
Modern Talking - You Can Win If You Want (1985)
Modern Talking - Cheri Cheri Lady (1985)
Modern Talking - Brother Louie (1986)
Chris Norman - Midnight Lady (1986)
Modern Talking - Atlantis is Calling (S.O.S. For Love) (1986)
Deutschland sucht den Superstar Allstars - We Have a Dream (2002)
Alexander Klaws - Take Me Tonight (2003)
Daniel Küblböck - You Drive Me Crazy (2003)
Yvonne Catterfeld - Für dich (2003)
Alexander Klaws - Free Like the Wind (2003)
Yvonne Catterfeld - Du hast mein Herz gebrochen (2004)
Mark Medlock - Now or Never (2007)
Mark Medlock & Dieter Bohlen - You Can Get It (2007)
Mark Medlock - Summer Love (2008)
Daniel Schuhmacher - Anything But Love (2009)
Mehrzad Marashi - Don't Believe (2010)
Pietro Lombardi - Call My Name (2011)
Luca Hänni - Don't Think About Me (2012)
Beatrice Egli - Mein Herz (2013)
Prince Damien - Glücksmoment (2016)
Capital Bra - Cherry Lady (2019)

You will notice the boost of popularity in from 2002 on. That's when "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" first aired. Except for Yvonne Catterfeld and Capital Bra (the first one is simply a popular singer who Bohlen wrote for and the latter a highly successful trap rapper who recorded a cover version of Bohlen's song), those artists were all participants in the show.

In Austria, 14 of his songs were chart toppers. Except for two songs, both of which weren't even hits at all in Germany, they are identical:

Modern Talking - You're My Heart, You're My Soul (1984)
Modern Talking - You Can Win If You Want (1985)
Modern Talking - Cheri Cheri Lady (1985)
Chris Norman - Midnight Lady (1986)
Thomas Forstner - Nur ein Lied (1989)
Lory "Bonnie" Bianco - A Cry in the Night (1989)
Yvonne Catterfeld - Für dich (2003)
Mark Medlock - Now or Never (2007)
Daniel Schuhmacher - Anything But Love (2009)
Mehrzad Marashi - Don't Believe (2010)
Pietro Lombardi - Call My Name (2011)
Luca Hänni - Don't Think About Me (2012)
Beatrice Egli - Mein Herz (2013)
Capital Bra - Cherry Lady (2019) - Martin_Canine