On this day thirty years ago, Austrian singer Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" landed at #1 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart more than a year after the film "Amadeus" had enjoyed a sensational theatrical run in America, proving quite emphatically that we Americans still hadn't gotten our fill of the Viennese composer, or, for that matter, Falco.
Granted, some of us had been more familiar with him than others.
I, for one, had been taken by the stark visual imagery of Falco's debut 1982 album, Einzelhaft, at a time when those who'd been inspired by the success of Gary Numan continued to seek out other like-minded artists. Falco's debut certainly lived up to the advance billing, going so far as to wear its Neu! and Kraftwerk influences on its sleeve, but also its fondness for UK-era Sparks and both incarnations of Ultravox.
His first U.S. single, "Der Kommisar" had grabbed some unexpected MTV spins at a time when the fledgling cable network was still scrambling for videos with which to fill air-time, yet the German-language single received little serious promotion despite an encouraging appearance at #74 on the pop charts.
A year later, After The Fire's English-language cover of the song would reach #5 in the States, while Falco's U.S. label (A&M Records) attempted to capitalize by re-releasing the single once again, but to no avail. Seeing such an opportunity squandered, not to mention Falco's next album (Junge Roemer) receiving even less promotion in the States, one could not have foreseen the circumstances leading to Falco's emergence as a chart-topping tour de force one year later.
Falco had parted ways with producer/songwriter Robert Polger after the poor performance of Junge Roemer outside of Austria, teaming with Dutch producers Bolland & Bolland on Falco 3 to create a sound that is an amalgam of disparate influences that, on paper, might sound like a recipe for disaster, but, in execution, is a joyous lightning strike of devil-may-care inspiration.
America's love affair with Falco wouldn't end with "Rock Me Amadeus", as the follow-up single "Vienna Calling" was wise enough to continue the musical theme and visual imagery of "Amadeus", becoming a Top 20 U.S. hit in its own right.