Der Kommissar (song) - Background

Background

Originally written by producer Robert Ponger for Reinhold Bilgeri, Bilgeri turned it down as he felt the song was too soft, so Falco reworked the song for himself instead.

Falco wanted to release "Helden von heute" as the main side (A-side), but the record company wanted "Der Kommissar" ("the commissioner" or police captain) to be released, because they felt it had more potential. The record company decided upon a double A-side release and was vindicated when "Der Kommissar" reached No. 1 in German-speaking countries in January 1982. After this big success, Falco's management decided to release "Der Kommissar" (as an A-side) in other countries as well.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, Falco's hit didn't fare as well, despite topping charts throughout Europe and Scandinavia during spring and summer 1982. In the summer of 1982 the British rock band After the Fire recorded an English version of the song, also called "Der Kommissar", and released it as a single, but the record floundered. Coming off a tour opening for Van Halen, After the Fire was working on material for a new album when in December 1982 the group announced onstage during a concert that they were breaking up. Both the After the Fire and Falco versions were rising on the Canadian charts at the time, but neither had cracked the U.S. pop charts.

Around that time, American pop singer Laura Branigan began working on her second album, and recorded a new song written over the melody and arrangement of "Der Kommissar", called "Deep In The Dark", which was prepared for release, when the After the Fire version finally hit the U.S. charts (Hot 100) on February 22, 1983, and started rising. Though the UK band's version barely nicked their home country's Top 50, in 1983 the song ultimately rose all the way to No. 5 in the U.S., where their music video was an MTV hit.

The song entered the American Top 40 (AT40) on March 5, 1983, peaked at No. 5, and remained in the AT40 for a total of 14 weeks. The hit single was released under the Epic label, with a catalog number of 03559.

Amidst all this renewed attention to the composition, Falco's own version, which had done well in some U.S. markets but not charted nationally, was re-released, but the German-language record remained essentially a novelty hit there, charting concurrently with the After the Fire version but not rising above No. 78. (In Canada, Falco's version had peaked at No. 11 the same late-January week that After the Fire's version peaked at No. 12.) After the Fire's record company, CBS, pleaded with the band to regroup, but to no avail. While UK promos for "Deep In The Dark" were pressed (the After the Fire version missed the UK top 40 and the Falco version didn't even chart there), Branigan's record company, Atlantic, officially released "Solitaire" in the U.S., where that song went to No. 7.

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