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Electronic pop duo Rosenstolz emerged from cult status as les enfants terrible of Berlin's gay club circuit to become a mainstream chart phenomenon across much of Europe. Walking the tightrope between operatic melodrama and pure, unadulterated camp, vocalist AnNa R. and keyboardist Peter Plate explored modern romance and sexuality with rare bravado, creating infectious dance pop and lush torch ballads with truly universal appeal. Rosenstolz (roughly, "rose pride") formed in Berlin in mid-1991. Aspiring jazz singer AnNa R. (born Andrea Rosenbaum) initially hired openly gay pianist Plate to serve as her accompanist for a cocktail lounge gig, and soon they began collaborating on original material, making their first professional appearance that October at the Galerie Bellevue. The duo's blunt examination of eroticism and heartbreak combined with their over-the-top stage presence to quickly earn a loyal following among Berlin's disco denizens, and while radio and critics ignored their 1992 Polydor debut LP, Soubrette Werd' Ich Nie, Rosenstolz's massive gay following embraced the record in droves. The 1994 follow-up, Nur Einmal Noch, nevertheless appeared on the independent label Traumton, and only with 1996's Objekt der Begierde did Rosenstolz return to the ranks of the majors. While singles like "Der Moment" and "Sex im Hotel" enjoyed massive club airplay, the mainstream media still wasn't biting, but in May 1997 the duo played to a sold-out audience of 10,000-plus in the Russian city of Novosbirsk, and their subsequent album, Die Schlampen Sind Müde, was also their first German Top 40 entry.
Rosenstolz's commercial fortunes turned dramatically in 1998, when the duo entered the annual Eurovision Song Contest with "Herzensschöner." Their efforts earned second-place honors in the national finals and vaulted the single into the Top 40. "Herzensschöner" soon resurfaced on the greatest-hits collection Alles Gute, which reached the German Top Ten and sold briskly throughout much of Europe. With 1999's Zucker, Rosenstolz's mainstream visibility achieved critical mass. While the album reached number two on the charts, the single "Ja, Ich Will," an anthem in support of gay marriage, ascended to number five. Sung by AnNa R. in Latin, the hit "Amo Vitam" preceded the 2000 release of Kassengift, which remained atop the German charts for 11 consecutive weeks. Rosenstolz spent 2001 in support of two high-profile singles, "Total Eclipse" -- a collaboration with former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond -- and "Die Schwarze Witwe," a duet with punk diva Nina Hagen; the following year, the duo issued Macht Liebe, generating a series of hits including "Sternraketen," "Es Tut Immer Noch Weh," and "Was Kann Ich für Eure Welt." The 2004 LP Herz debuted at number one, launching three more Top Ten singles: "Liebe Ist Alles," "Ich Will Mich Verlieben," and "Willkommen." After spending 2005 on hiatus, Rosenstolz returned a year later with Das Grosse Leben, which also topped the Austrian charts on the strength of the lead single "Ich Bin Ich". Building on their commercial successes, Rosenstolz released their eleventh album Die Suche Geht Weiter in 2008 which contained their first number one single in the German charts, Gib Mir Sonne. Three years later, intersected by a live album version of Die Siche Geht Weiter in 2009, the German duo released Wir Sind am Leben. ~ Jason Ankeny
- Berlin, Germany
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