Top Ten Songs from Die Toten Hosen's "Ein Kleines Bisschen Horrorschau"

"Ein kleines Bisschen Horrorschau" ("A Little Bit of Horror Show") is one of the most legendary and acclaimed German music albums of all time, and will always be found on any list about German music as an absolute essential. The German Rolling Stone ranks the album as the 24th greatest German album of all time.

In 1988, Die Toten Hosen were still a relatively small rock band, one of many out there, and while classified as punk, they weren't exactly known for their intellectual or political content. Nevertheless, the director of a stage adaption of the classic story "A Clockwork Orange" saw potential in them, and hired them to compose a few songs to be performed as transitions. They ultimately did so, but felt so inspired by the story that they decided to turn the project into a full blown concept album with 12 songs telling the infamous story of Alex de Large and the world he lives in - the latter aspect of which makes the album very political and sociocritical, depicting a country where 35 years of work doesn't pay off, the biggest excitement being the prime time TV program, and still everyone manages to find reasons to be patriotic, and in the middle of it is our dear Droog. The record expanded the band's musical horizon. While the generally negative and often revolting tone brings the album closer to the original British punk than any other German punk record ever released (I bet most foreigners wouldn't call German punk "punk" at all), the music on it became way more ambitious and diverse. There are just a few punkish uptempo tracks, several numbers are melodic songs with a very climatic dramaturgy, the bands embraces a way more well thought out music outfit on here, there are bits of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony serving as transitions between the individual songs, and then of course there is an overall concept to the records which goes so far as the first and the last song (called "Hier kommt Alex" and "Bye Bye Alex") are counterparts, musically extremely similar but with lyrics that are the exact opposite. All of this was a huge development for the band and formed their signature sound which combines the rebellious power of punk with often heavy melodious music. It also was the first album by the band with such a dark tone, and helped them being taken seriously as musicians, while before they were widely regarded as a fun punk band.

"Ein kleines Bisschen Horrorschau" was the first Die Toten Hosen album to enter the German top ten, peaking at number 7. It has so far been certified triple gold and was the first step into their big career. Later on, Die Toten Hosen became one of the best selling and most acclaimed music artists in Germany and still manage to top the charts with new critically and publically praised albums so many years later. But "Ein kleines Bisschen Horrorschau" is widely regarded as their masterpiece.

The Top Ten

1 Hier kommt Alex

The opening piece introduces Alex and the Droogs. It starts off by describing the work oriented and bleak world ("In a world in which you only live / to go roboting everyday / the big excitement there still is / is the daily prime time T.V. program / every man lives like a clockwork / Programmed like a computer"), before describing how the Droogs gather when the sun sets, to hunt at night. It is extremely powerful, and the album's best known song. The song is regarded as one of the, if not the best Die Toten Hosen song. - Martin_Canine

2 Bye, Bye Alex

Musically, "Bye Bye Alex" resembles "Hier kommt Alex" and plays more like a concluding reprise at the end of the album (it has full song length though).
Spoilers follow:
Everybody loves Alex even though he never changed inside. He doesn't kill or hurt but not because he doesn't want to but because he can't. In fact, he is the one violated now. - Martin_Canine

3 Musterbeispiel

This sinister little song with a very dark cynical tone is about Alex waking up in the hospital, with the government needing him for their deeds to prove that their aversion technique works.
("The black sheep of the clockwork system / Now helps winding it up") - Martin_Canine

4 Ein Schritt Zuviel

This song is about Alex having got captured by the police. He went one step too far and nothing can stop the events that are to follow. The narration between the investigators and Alex.

It is arguably the most melodic and balladesque on the album. It's almost folk-ish. - Martin_Canine

5 Mehr Davon

This song is about addiction. How one feels very good when first doing something, but the impact gets less and less each time so you need to consume more and more.

I can't really connect the song to a scene from the story. I'd say it's about Alex's rush for ultraviolence, but it's track 7 on the album and at this point Alex is already in jail. - Martin_Canine

6 Die Farbe Grau

This song is about the monotonous life in prison where Alex was put in after having been captured. This is metaphorically visualized by everything having the color grey. - Martin_Canine

7 1000 Gute Gründe

This song describes the false patriotism of the country Alex resides in, whether that be England as in the original story, Germany because that's where the album was made, or a fictional country. It is track two on the CD and is meant to characterize what makes the Droogs so sick. There are a "thousand good reasons to be proud of this country - why can't I suddenly recall any? ", goes the chorus. - Martin_Canine

8 180 Grad

This song is about the people who don't want "someone who doesn't fit in", someone who "sees progress as his enemy" but also how they will change him in the right direction. This song is very intelligent and political: it shows the people care less about the violence Alex has done, but more about how he endangers their beloved system where everyone has to play their part. - Martin_Canine

9 Zahltag

The aversion therapy was successful, and when Alex returns at home, his old enemies take adventage of his lack of defense.

In Stanley Kubrick's movie this was the most hurtful scene of all, with lots of people attacking Alex who can't do anything against it. On the album, this song is fairly cynical, almost sarcastically happy in tone. - Martin_Canine

10 Testbild

A person is fed up with all the little problems of everyday life and how he wants to break out of it all and start all over again somewhere else. This song is more of a characterization of the "clockwork system", not so much of Alex. It's the 11th of the 12th songs but I think it would have worked a bit better early in. But hey, it's just a minor flaw. - Martin_Canine

The Contenders

11 Keine Ahnung

This track is about not knowing what to tell is right or wrong or answer the question. It is heard after Alex got caught, so it might be about the interrogation. - Martin_Canine

12 35 Jahre

This song is another one that is not about Alex. This is about a man who has worked for 35 years and now that he's retired he doesn't know what to do with his life and spends his days looking out of the window.

The couple of songs that are not directly about the "A Clockwork Orange" story are still related to it, as they characterize the world in which this is all set in, and it explains how Alex became who it is, being fed up with this system where all you do is work. - Martin_Canine

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