“She’s a model and she’s looking good.” In February 1982, the sophisticated deadpan of Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter hovered like a drone over a UK top 10 that included Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Stevens. “The Model” was originally released on the band’s classic 1978 album The Man Machine, but EMI revived the song as a B-side to “Computer Love.” DJs preferred “The Model”, so the label reissued it as the double A-side and created the first UK number one for an all-German group.
“Das Model” (in its original German version) evolved from a poem the band’s artistic collaborator Emil Schult wrote about the high-fashion models he observed in a Cologne nightclub. Some feminists claim the song objectifies its subject: a woman who only exists for the male gaze, smiling for money. Others defend it as a critique of the consumer society which reduces women to nameless automatons.