Nano, Baby Lilly, and Schnuffel Bunny
While many fads, songs, foods, and television programs have international appeal, many others at best, win over "a small-but-devoted following" outside their country of origin.
On Record Day, while browsing in the German music section at Amoeba in Hollywood, I noticed a number of amusing album covers. None amused me more than "Nano" by then-10-year-old Emily. At least I think it was "Nano". It's possible it was Emily's World. Edited: I can confirm that it was "Nano". So I will. It was "Nano".
Both covers feature the same hairdo and outfit on young Emily, and the same alien (Nano). They're both gold. According to her record label, the album, Emily's World is (quote translated by Alta Vista Babel Fish) "an album of full merry dragging along Uptempo numbers".
While I haven't heard the whole album, I'm all about the first single, "Nano", and understand why Germany embraced it. The song, about a small green, super cool alien from Planet X, was a Top 40 hit in Germany, and stayed on their charts for 9 weeks. It also reached 54 on the Austrian singles charts.
The "Nano" video is not the greatest thing ever. The production values aren't very valuable. The part where Emily seems dazed, starts seeing planets, gyrates a bit on her bed, and then tries to fly away on it, may impress Pink Floyd fans, but how kid-friendly is it? Hopefully it will go over kids' heads so parents don't play Pink Floyd for them before they're ready for it in a desperate attempt to explain it.
SongText's "Nano" lyrics, as translated by Babel Fish:
I slept and it was deeply in the night there are I by bright shining waked up it was so super brightly, I could nix more see. There such a type stood, for that at one time was completely green. It had sheds and two feelers on the head, and ne ' machine on pressed it nen ' button. There it caught on completely slowly toward me to go. He said good evening, can you me verstehn? (I am nano) Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. (3 x super of cooles Alien) He said comes and shows to me your beautiful world it saw so out as if it him well pleases here. He wanted to see everything nevertheless had little time. But that is not a problem with speed of light. In the deep jungle he spoke with the wild animals and in the desert reads he the flowers there flowers and everywhere in each country, at each place, called her: "nano, fly away never again." Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. Remain please here, do not fly away not, from here. Your planet it is nevertheless so far (so far, so far, so far) Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. Nano of the planet X show us all your mad Alientricks. Nano of the planet X you is a superstar and I is your fan, super of cooles Alien. (3 x super of cooles Alien)
According to BabelFish, the title of her second single, "Simsalabim" translates to "Simsalabim" in English. There's a 37-second promotional video clip for the song on her site and on her record label's YouTube channel, but *warning*, perhaps as part of some clever marketing strategy I'm not canny enough to understand, this clip is jarringly loud. In the video, Emily is a witch (the Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Bewitched kind, not the wiccan kind.) Maybe Nano gave her special powers.
Considerably more frightening than the prospect of aliens visiting girls in the middle of the night and turning them into witches is "Baby Lilly", a 3-D computer-animated baby, whose supposedly adorable songs are beloved in Germany and at least a couple other countries whose taste we now should question.
I'd risk annoying you by posting the rather bizarre video for "Hallo Papi" but "Baby Lilly" has a strict anti-embedding policy. Well... she doesn't exist outside computers (and our hearts), so really I blame her record label. Brilliant strategy, guys: try to limit the viewing of promotional videos as much as possible.
"Hallo Papi"'s wacky lyrics involve a phone call to Lilly's father and a barrage of questions. She has an impressive vocabulary for her age (one year old, according to her website). Translated excerpt:
Dad, dad, dad, why are flowers multicolored? Dad, dad, dad, why is the earth round? Can I see the stars only at night? Why is Mami so beautiful? Why only are bananas bent? At night have I fear, say to me why! Hello? Hello!? Hello? Hello!? Is Papi there? Come say already! Who is here? There who is? Hello? Hello!? Hello? Hello!? Is Papi there? Come say already! Who is here? There who is? Here is Lilly! Lilly which? Here is Lilly! Lilly how? Do not have as much asking as ever... Dad, dad, dad, who is the Nikolaus? Dad, dad, dad, where the sun comes up? Why with the car is "STOP called" red "!"? And say to me why is Himbeereis so coldly!? And why does a bird make "beeps"?
Yeah, why the hell does a bird make beeps? I mean, I assume she means Roadrunner, and that's a good question.
Lilly has a French cousin, Bebe Lilly, not to be confused with Italian relation Bebe Lilly. The French cousin seems to "borrow" her German counterpart's videos, releasing them with dubbed French vocals. Some of the German videos have been removed from YouTube, likely as part of their Anti-Promotional Strategery, so I guess it's fortunate to have the other Lillys' versions, even though they too can't be embedded.
Among German Lilly's fascinating discography is a song with a title that's likely mundane if you speak German, but amusing (or offensive, take your pick) in English. "Die Cowboys" translates to "The Cowboys", yawn. German Baby Lilly might have had second thoughts about the video; her record label promptly has it taken down if a user posts it (more anti-promotion at work?)
However, French Bebe Lilly has posted the French-dubbed peppy video, complete with hallucinating hippo, dancing robot, and angry Native American guy preventing a girl (presumably his daughter) from kissing a rabbit. The last part is followed by stereotypical Native American warrior sounds. Maybe Baby Lilly regretted stereotyping hippos, robots, and/or Native Americans. Maybe she just had second thoughts about going with a Pepto-Bismol-pink cowgirl outfit.
As frightening as some of the aforementioned German songs and videos are, at least they've (pretty much) stayed out of North America. That may not be the case for long.
Sony/BMG, the label who put spyware on CDs and paid radio stations to play songs, isn't out of ideas. Baby Lilly isn't the only popular 3-D computer-animated creature in Germany; they're bringing another one to the States. Wired warns that Schnuffel Bunny's "Snuggle Song" is on the way. If it does well in the U.S., you can bet other animated creatures' fake songs and albums will follow, possibly including Baby Lilly. The horror... the horror.
Unfortunately (?), Schnuffel Bunny's "Snuggle Song" is... kind of cute... even if I also think he kind of looks like a puppy in the video. His website is also better than the German or French baby characters' websites. You can send an e-card... I have no idea what it says, but I'm going to Mad Libs it and send it to the friend who told me about Schnuffel Bunny. There's also a karaoke version of the video, which they should put on the YouTube channel because that's kind of fun... it will get very annoying soon enough, but for the moment, it's kind of fun.
Naturally, embedding is not allowed for the "Snuggle Song" video (lame) but there is a link to inquire about booking a guy dressed as Schnuffel Bunny.
It's of some concern that in the picture he's gripping a big carrot, because on the e-card page Schnuffel Bunny, let's not kid ourselves, suggestively strokes a carrot. I'm just sayin'. He does. Perhaps you should consider hiring Wickie the Viking... I had no idea who he was until I saw his pictures on the character-booking website, but now I know he's the star of a Dutch cartoon series. Cool! Why don't they bring something like that to the States?
In addition to editing to confirm that the Emily recording at Amoeba was "Nano" (as of Wednesday night, it's still there), I've fixed the link for the Schnuffel Bunny video. I didn't mean to add another layer of confusion to the weirdness of Schnuffel Bunny by linking to a Spanish-language version, really.