An odd bird, for sure, Guildo Horn is a German singer/entertainer whose shtick includes eccentric behavior, an outrageous appearance, and thoroughly ironic schlager songs. In some ways, he's like a German equivalent of Weird Al Yankovic. In terms of fame, he's notable for finishing seventh in the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with his song "Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!" Born Horst Köhler on February 15, 1963, in Trier, Horn began his music career as a schlagersänger at age 29, when he got a job as an entertainer in Cologne at the Luxor performance venue. His debut album, Rückkehr Nach Mendocino (1992), was recorded live there. In 1994 Horn made his debut on the ZDF-Hitparade, a popular and well-known music contest show on ZDF (i.e., Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), a public television station based in Mainz, and finished in third place, demonstrating his knack for such performance contests, given his novel act.
His celebrity now kick-started, he took his act on the road: Guildo Horn & die Orthopädischen Strümpfe, the latter a five-man backing group. It wasn't long before a major label came knocking, namely Electrola, a division of EMI, and Sternstunden der Zärtlichkeit was issued in November 1995. The album includes humorous parodies like "Ich Find' Schlager Toll" (a send-up of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock N' Roll") and "Ich Mag Steffi Graf" (the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love") -- both of which were released as singles, the former charting in the Top 100 -- in addition to original material. Horn's recording career was now off to a promising start, and he went about recording another album, Danke! (1997), which peaked, rather amazingly, at number three and spent a long 35 weeks on the album chart. Such success set the stage for his Eurovision Song Contest run in 1998 with "Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!," itself a number four hit.
After such dizzying heights, particularly for a novelty act, it was inevitable that Horn's career would take a downturn, and indeed it did. His next album, Schön! (1999), reached only 64, and its biggest single, "Berlin," only 82; the one after that, Der König der Möwen (2002), saw a further drop off in commercial interest, barely registering on the Top 100 (at 99) and spawning no significant hits. A few years later Horn's major-label days came to an end with Essential (1995), a compilation of 18 of his best recordings for Electrola. However, he'd already begun moving on with his career, shifting his focus from schlager to theater, appearing in such musicals as Kiss Me, Kate (2005) and Paradise of Pain (2006). He did acknowledge the cultish remains of his fan base on occasion, however, for instance issuing Die Rocky Horny Weihnachtsshow (2005), a CD that smartly synthesized the old ironic Horn with the new theatrical one. ~ Jason Birchmeier