“Teach your children well” sang Crosby, Stills and Nash once upon a long ago, and that adage could be paraphrased as “make sure your students don’t grow up learning substandard pop songs. Give them a real education.” An enterprising elementary school teacher in Mombach, a district of the Rhineland city of Mainz, did so in 2015, dressing up his students from Lemmchen Elementary in their own handmade robot outfits and teaching them to sing the classic 1978 Kraftwerk hit “The Robots” (or “Roboter” if you own the German version, which you can hear below).
While the original prog-rockers turned electronic demigods tried to strip away as much of their humanity when playing live, you just can’t do it with kids. They’re just too cute, and their wobbly, shuffling attempts to be machines only warms the heart more. (Could their parents tell who was who, I wonder?) Their version of the music is similarly charming and pretty faithful, though it’s possibly played by instructor Lars Reimer. (An older class shows their faces and plays instruments in a more recent video, a cover of “Tanz” by Stoppok.) So yes, Mr. Reimer, you’re passing on some good musical taste.
Though Kraftwerk was often thought of as cold and artificial when they first arrived on the international music scene, the intervening years have only emphasized the romantic beauty of their (mostly major key) melodies. (See for example the Balanescu Quartet’s rendition of the same song below.)
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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.