It was not their debut single, but the biggest hit of Nena's career did come early on in their career. The lyric of the song was written by the band's guitarist Carlo Karges after he was at a Rolling Stones concert in Berlin. He noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, to the point of looking a lot like some UFO. He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector. The lyric speaks of an apocalyptic overreaction by military forces.
When the song was released as a single from Nena's debut album in early 1983, it was an immediate hit not only in German-speaking countries, but also in the Netherlands, where it topped the Dutch Top 40 for a few weeks.
My collection: 7" single no. 444
Found: Disco Market, Den Haag, August 9, 1986
Cost: 2 guilders
Tracks: '99 Luftballons' / 'Ich bleib' im Bett'