Sunday, October 9, 2011

Germany's Perplexing Love Affair With David Hasselhoff

To Germans the American B grade
actor is bigger than the Beatles

People say that the Germans have no sense of humor, but I say that is a bum rap.

For instance, Germans think that David Hasselhoff is one of the greatest pop singers of all time.

Now that is funny!

I first learned this several years back when a German friend told me that David Hasselhoff had become a big star in Germany.

My first reaction was: who? But upon reflection I recalled that he was the big, hunky grade B TV actor of 70s soap operas, 80s Knight Rider and 90s Baywatch fame.

And then my German friend apprised me that Hasselhoff was famous in Germany as a pop music singing sensation.

To which I replied: You've got to be kidding!

You see, among sentient Americans, the chisel-featured, barrel-chested, 59 year old German-American is barely considered an actor. And he decidedly is not considered a singer.

There is one basic reason for this and that is that David Hasselhoff cannot sing.
AOL Radio rated Hasselhoff's big German hit
among the top 100 worst pop songs of all time

Oh yes, he can passably carry a tune, just as any Chicago electrician might after downing several pitchers of beer while out with the boys at the local saloon on karaoke night.

And put him in a hi-tech recording studio with knob-turning, audio witch doctors and a large chorus of back up singers and he might turn out something with a vaguely discernible resemblance to music.

And yet for the past two decades, from '89 to the present (he has a 2011 album at #3 in Austria and high on the German charts), David Hasselhoff has been to German audiences and record buyers, bigger than the Beatles -- better than Elvis.

To Americans, this is befuddling and mind-numbing.

It ranks in incomprehensibility with the adulation that the French have accorded to the asinine 50's American comic actor, Jerry Lewis. The surrender monkeys actually think that Lewis is a comedic genius. YIKES!

In Germany, Hasselhoff cashed in with an output of genuinely banal, garage band-quality, soft rock, reminiscent of AM radio fare from his 80s and 90s TV heyday.
Baywatch buddies Hasselhoff and
Pamela Anderson now (l) and then (r)

Compounding the aural atrocity, Hasselhoff churned out some truly hideous covers of iconic American pop classics.

If you ever really want to ruin your day, just listen to Hasselhoff mangle the soft, vibrant Mamas and the Papas '67 classic, California Dreamin'. (You can hear it here, if you really feel you must.)

And if you live in a high-rise, please, stay away from the balcony if you should decide to listen to Hasselhoff butcher the Beachboys' classic ode to summer fun, California Girls -- you just might be tempted to jump off.

Hasselhoff's European anthem is a tediously droning song entitled, Looking For Freedom. AOL Radio ranked it as #98 on the list of the 100 worst pop songs ever recorded. No self respecting American record label would give it a second glance. No American FM pop station would give it the time of day. Yet this audio atrocity reached #1 on the German and Swiss charts in 1989.

There are 310 million Americans and I would hazard to say that about 200 million of them possess greater vocal talent than David Hasselhoff -- yet he is the one we exported to Europe.

Worse than that, the Germans not only bought his shtick, but they actually think that Hasselhoff is the greatest thing to hit Europe since the panzerfaust --- or the Stuka dive bomber.

Here is Hasselhoff's Looking for Freedom, rated among top 100 worst pop songs of all time by AOL radio, it reached #1 in Germany and Switzerland and #3 in Austria in '89:

Here he mangles Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man. (Warning, if you have dogs, please put them in the yard as Hasselhoff's off key screeching may induce them to howl in agony.) This is arguably the worst vocal effort you may ever hear in your lifetime: