At 56 years old, Nina Hagen could sit today’s pop stars down and teach them a thing or two about what it means to be original. With a career spanning several decades and a style that hasn’t changed since she hit the scene in the mid-70’s, everyone from Gaga to Katy Perry should grab a pencil and pen and pick up a few pointers from Nina Hagen.
Born in East Berlin, this opera prodigy began her career musical career in Poland at the age of sixteen. After returning to East Germany, making a name for herself as on of East Germany’s brightest young stars and eventually leaving the country after her step-father’s exile, Nina Hagen went on to join the punk rock movement at it’s height hanging out with The Slits and The Sex Pistols. It wasn’t until the 1980s, after years of performing abroad, that Hagen brought her distinct voice to the U.S. In 1983, after giving birth to her daughter Cosma Shiva, Hagen’s English version of Angstios garnered her first U.S. hits Zarah and New York, New York. As the decades rolled on, Hagen returned to Europe and continued to churn out punk/dance/glam rock hits. Recently, Hagen has gone from bad girl rocker who once demonstrated female masturbation positions during an interview to a born again Christian releasing a religious themed album, Personal Jesus, last summer.
While Hagen’s career never reached epic status stateside, her over the top fashion did. From highlighter hued hair, more eyeliner than Amy Winehouse and a stage persona that makes Lady Gaga look perfectly tame, Nina Hagen was and still is one of a kind. Whether she is decked out in ripped shirts and fishnets or dressed as some bizarre mix of Bellatrix Lestrange and Alice in Wonderland, no other female performer has stuck to their style the way Hagen has. Unlike another Fashion Meets Music icon well known for reinventing herself every decade or so, Hagen’s dedicating to her over the top image proves that baby she was born that way not made by studio execs.
Between her voice which can go from a guttural growl to a smooth operatic alto in one song and her penchant for discussing God and UFOs, no one has mad crazy look half as appealing as Nina Hagen and I doubt that anyone ever will.
For those of us who do not Deutsch sprechen, speak German, I had to give you a taste of Hagen’s English language hit New York, New York and a performance of her hit African Reggae in Germanglish. For those of you who do know a thing or two about German, her entire catalogue is out there for you to explore.
Image layouts by C-Rocka
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