With the passing of Kraftwerk co-founder Florian Schneider, the world is taking a moment to not only remember the man, but the incredible influence of the musical project he helmed for more than four decades. Kraftwerk is widely credited with the not small feat of inventing electronic music, but also with inspiring artists in the realms of rock, hip-hop, synthpop and beyond.
Since the release of their eponymous 1970 debut album, the group has also been sampled prolifically, with elements of their work famously showing up in tracks such as Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force’s indelible 1982 hit “Planet Rock” and Sabrina Setlur’s 1997 song “Nur Mir.”
This latter track was the subject of a 20-year legal battle regarding the illegal use of a two-second drum sequence from Kraftwerk’s 1977 song “Metall auf Metall” (Metal on Metal).” The lawsuit was settled last year, with Kraftwerk winning the case.
But for all the famous Kraftwerk samples, loads of them are lesser known, even though they appear in the catalogs of some of the biggest artists of all time. Here are the top 10 songs that you probably didn’t know sampled Kraftwerk.
The opening moment of Coldplay‘s baby-let’s-talk-it-out love song from their 2005 LP X&Y is a note-for-note sample of Kraftwerk’s 1981 hit “Computer Love.” The simple but sweetly enduring melody is interpolated throughout the Coldplay hit, which hit No. 86 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of 2006.
Miley Cyrus, “Dooo It”
2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz LP was arguably Cyrus’ most experimental phase of her career, with “Dooo It” fusing hip-hop beats and a psych-rock vibe with a particularly angsty Miley singing about smoking pot and loving peace, but also not giving a f–k because “I ain’t no hippie.” The woozy track samples Kraftwerk’s 1975 ambient track “Radioland.”
My Morning Jacket, “Believe (Nobody Knows)”
The Southern rockers sampled the uplifting chord progression of Kraftwerk’s 1973 instrumental track “Tanzmusik” for their equally upbeat tune “Believe (Nobody Knows)” from their 2015 LP, The Waterfall.
Dr. Dre feat. Jay-Z, “Under Pressure”
Dr. Dre paid homage to Kraftwerk on 2010’s “Under Pressure,” a single from his massively anticipated (and still not out yet) album, Detox. Featuring Jay-Z, the track samples Kraftwerk’s catalog-defining 1977 track “Trans-Europe Express.”
The Chemical Brothers, “Leave Home”
In a passing the torch moment, the first single from The Chemical Brothers‘ game-changing 1995 debut album Exit Planet Dust paid homage to the pioneers of electronic music. “Leave Home” includes a short sample of the intro of Kraftwerk’s meditative “Ohm Sweet Ohm” (from their 1975 LP Radio-Activity), transitioning into the track’s iconic “the brothers gonna work it out” chant.
New Order, “Blue Monday”
New Order‘s 1986 hit is one of the longest lived dance tracks in existence. Its droning vocals, ghostly synths and persistent beat have inspired generations of producers, and yet, without Kraftwerk, this timeless classic would not have existed. That disembodied choir “aaah”-ing at 1:36 comes straight from the German foursome’s 1975 cut “Uranium.” (Aphex Twin used the same sample in his 2015 tune “Renalgade Sonar.”)
LCD Soundsystem, “Get Innocuous!”
The New York City band has given us so much anxiety-riddled dance rock greatness, and because singer James Murphy and his group are well-educated music lovers, they’ve studied Kraftwerk’s legendary sonic scrolls. From 2007’s Sound of Silver, “Get Innocuous!” urges us all to stop making sense and start flailing on the dance floor instead. That warbling synth riff is the blood-pumpin’ hook, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s straight from Kraftwerk’s 1978 hit “The Robots.”
Robot music isn’t all B-boy breaks and late-night warehouse bangers. Sometimes, Kraftwerk is slowed down and steamed up. Singer, dancer and all-around wonder woman Ciara put a sensual spin on the 1983 song “Tour De France,” hiding its breathy beat in the folds of her sexy 2006 R&B hit “Promise.”
Gesaffelstein, “Control Movement”
French DJ and producer Gesaffelstein, the chain-smoking, suit-wearing, all-black-everything dark-house hero, owes a lot to the OGs. His 2011 tune “Control Machine” uses some divine bleepy-bloops straight from Kraftwerk’s “Home Computer,” the title of which could be read as a prophecy for the bedroom producer boom.
Busta Rhymes Feat. Pharrell Williams, “Light Your A– on Fire”
First of all, never sleep on this 2003 Busta Rhymes classic. Any rapper confident enough to just go “hrmmm” on the track deserves an award. Secondly, shout-out Pharrell for always throwing back to the funkiest tunes. This cinematic sample can be heard right at the start of the track and, for the initiated, is instantly recognizable as part of Kraftwerk’s 1977 smash “Trans Europe Express.” It’s an iconic sample in a quirky song, carried respectfully through the ages.