WHO THEY ARE: Florian Schneider (at first), Ralf Hütter and assorted other German guys who made “robot pop”–minimalist, deliberately steely and completely electronic music–and launched an entire genre in the process.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Albums with titles like Radio-Activity, The Man-Machine and Computer World, utter seriousness about the associated technofetishism–i.e. single “The Robots,” as in “We Are…”– that only becomes more and more prescient the more tendrils technology gets into our lives.
STILL GETTING IT DONE: Let’s see. The entire genre of electronic music is not exactly doing poorly, even if everyone suddenly started calling it EDM a month or so ago. Hip-hop’s not doing poorly, either, and founding hit “Planet Rock” samples two separate Kraftwerk tracks. New wave–another Kraftwerk-influenced genre–wasn’t doing poorly in the ’80s, nor now when seemingly everyone’s reviving it. Then, of course, there are all the tribute bands.
LEAST LIKELY TRIBUTE BANDS: Comedian Bill Bailey’s only-semi-facetious Augenblick? Latin remixes by a guy who goes by Señor Coconut? Or, most recently, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Pussy Galore’s Julie Cafritz(!) as Free Kitten[esque]?
MOST UNSETTLING NOT-ACTUALLY-A-TRIBUTE BAND: Autobahn from The Big Lebowski. The faces alone!
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY MEANINGFUL TECHNOLOGY SNAFU OF PRESENT-DAY: Kraftwerk announced eight shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. About 60,000 people were thwarted in their ticketing quest by faulty technology, venting enough existential rage on Twitter to get Kraftwerk trending. All they heard for more than an hour: “You are waiting in the queue.”