Ordinarily, you do not associate adjectives such as visual, colorful, and physical with music. Or, at least, not initially. But the women of Berlin pop group Laing are as much a visual performance as they are a musical group for your ears. The group’s videos are humorous, tongue-in-cheek, and carefully crafted. Their music, meanwhile, is just as thoughtfully created with a light and easygoing feel but it is no laughing matter! So this month let’s learning German with the music of pop group Laing!
From writing to directing, Till Franzen does a little bit of it all. The filmmaker has worked in both film and television, bringing to life tales of mystery, intrigue, and family dramas. Franzen’s serial thrillers keep viewers tuning in. Get to know Franzen better and practice the German language with film!
It’s difficult to write about an artist (of any kind: from the performing arts to music and everything in between) without making comparisons. But for Berlin rapper Prinz Pi, it is not so straightforward. Sure, every artist has their own style but it seems a little more difficult to put Prinz Pi in a stylistic box. It is likely better that you listen to his music and make the decision for yourself. So this month I am highlighting Prinz Pi for learning German with music!
There is nothing the music industry and its audience love more than a singer who goes by a single name. Cher! Madonna! Prince! German singer Lary fits into that category but she does it on her own terms, just likes those other veritable one name juggernauts. Labeling Lary a “popstar” seems accurate but probably gives the wrong impression. This is not your run of the mill bubblegum pop music. Lary is dark and sultry, strong and gritty. Are you intrigued yet to find out and hear more? This month, let’s practice German with the music of pop R&B singer Lary.
With roles like Ronnie, the gangster who is after Moritz Bleibtreu‘s Manni in 1998’s Run Lola Run, and as a leader in an alt-right political party on the second season of television series Berlin Station, you may already be familiar with Heino Ferch. But there are many major roles in German-speaking films and television productions starring Ferch. This month, let’s learn German with the films of Heino Ferch!
In 2013, Vienna, Austria’s Bilderbuch burst onto the music scene with their instantly catchy, remarkably memorable track “Maschin.” It was the band‘s performance of that very track on German television that first caught my attention and helped make them one of my favorite bands (German language or otherwise). But the band aren’t new; in fact, the four-piece released their debut album (Nelken & Schillinge) a decade ago in 2009. For anyone looking to learn German with music, Bilderbuch is a great choice. Their music is fun, infectious, and smart. This month, let’s learn German with the music of Bilderbuch!
Get to Know Austrian Band Bilderbuch
Bilderbuch dates to 2005, when Maurice Ernst (vocals, guitar), Peter Horazdovsky (bass), Andreas Födinger (drums), and Klemens Kranawetter (guitar) formed the band as teenagers. Kranawetter and then Födinger later left the band. Guitarist extraordinaire Michael Krammer, with his Keith Richards-like swagger, joined Ernst and Horazdovsky in 2008 while four years later drummer Philipp “Pille” Scheibl came on board.
Bilderbuch are most simply described as a rock band, but that’s an oversimplification. The band’s earliest records — 2009’s Nelken & Schillinge and 2011’s Die Pest im Piemont — are largely indie rock records. Singles like “Calypso” and, in particular, “Kopf ab” are speeding rock tracks while “Ein Boot für uns” captures attention with its disjointed rhythm and chanting chorus.
By 2013, now older and with the addition of Pille, the band began going in a slightly different direction. That year the band released the EP Feinste Seide as a sort of teaser. The six-track recording shows the band branching out. The title track sees Ernst, confident and full of bravado, essentially rapping. But it was “Maschin,” and its music video, that really shot Bilderbuch onto the German language music scene. A mix of electronics and guitars, the track is unforgettable with its catchy chorus.
By this point, guitar-led indie rock was no longer the right description for Bilderbuch. Now the band is experimental, adventurous, and intentionally artsy. They’re here to party, but there is a focus and a goal, too.
Using the momentum from their Feinste Seide EP, Bilderbuch’s next release was the album Schick Shock from 2015. The album went to number one in their native Austria and broke the top 15 in Germany. It saw the return of favorites like “Maschin” as well as somewhat new tracks pushing the limits like “OM” and “Willkommen im Dschungel.” Two years later, the band followed it up with the album Magic Life. The recording picks up where Schick Shock left off. It’s fun, sometimes exaggerated but never taking itself too seriously. Ernst himself exudes the confidence, spirit, and energy of Bowie, Falco, and Prince.
No one could ever accuse Bilderbuch of being unambitious. And with the release of two albums, only months apart in late 2018 and early 2019, Bilderbuch has made it clear they’re here to stay. In December the group put out mea culpa while in February they released the psychedelic-leaning Vernissage My Heart. Bilderbuch is still progressing with their sound but at their core, they’re still the same band. Singles like “LED go” are sure to get stuck in your head while the music video, which brings a group of billiard balls to life, has the humorous take you’d expect from the band. Elsewhere Bilderbuch continues to challenge fans and push themselves with tracks like the memorable falsetto of “Frisbee.”
And never shy about making a thought-provoking statement, the band recently embarked on Europa 22, a website allowing fans to create a virtual EU passport for “a life without borders.” Encouraging fans to share their passport on social media, the campaign was a huge success seeing not just young fans but also politicians participating.
With six albums under their belts, countless singles, and music videos, there’s never been a better time to familiarize yourself with Bilderbuch. And why not learn German, too, while you’re at it?
Looking for another Ohrwurm to help you learn German? Check out previously featured musicians and bands!
Photo by Hendrik-Schneider. This post contains affiliate links.
Hans-Christian Schmid is not only an award-winning director but also a screenwriter and a film producer. His films range from coming of age tales to dramas focusing on finding justice for war crimes. If nothing else, they’re fascinating observations, sometimes dealing with real individuals and situations. So this month, let’s learn German with the films of Hans-Christian Schmid!
Some music fans that likes to be on the inside. They like to be on the cutting edge, knowledgeable of the latest and greatest bands and musicians before everyone else. If you fall into this category then this month’s German music post is right up your alley. Barely in her twenties and with only a single EP under her belt, singer Alli Neumann is looking to make a name for herself. And quite frankly Neumann‘s got a lot going for her: from an ear-catching debut release to touring with big, popular names. This month, let’s learn German language with the music of Alli Neumann!
When actor Bruno Ganz passed away in February, like many I was surprised and saddened. I have watched many of Ganz’s films and yet, I realized while planning German film posts for 2019, he had never been featured. So ubiquitous to German language cinema, I had always assumed I’d written a German film post about Ganz. Now here we are with a posthumous German film post, honoring the man and his remarkable career. German language learners looking to practice with film will be delighted by the works starring Bruno Ganz, so let’s get going!