Sportfreunde Stiller will always have a special place in my heart. During my first visit to Germany in 2009, their version of Udo Jürgens’ “Ich war noch niemals in New York” was everywhere we turned in Berlin. Everywhere. The track was in constant circulation. At the time, the band had only recently released an MTV Unplugged in New York album and the track was in heavy rotation to promote it. Jürgens even guests on the track during a later live performance of the song. It was the soundtrack of our vacation and it always makes me a little sentimental.
Which brings me to this month’s featured German language music recommendation: Sportfreunde Stiller!
With their mix of indie rock and rap, Kraftklub is one of the most popular bands on the German music scene. The quintet from Chemnitz has released three studio albums, all of which have gone to the top of the German music charts. And with good reason. The young, hip band is making music that is catchy, memorable, and always has a sense of humor. So this month, let’s practice German with the music of rockers Kraftklub!
German singer Henning May’s voice makes his band AnnenMayKantereit almost instantly recognizable. Upon first glance, it is surprising to hear such a deep and rich tone emerge from such a young man. When May’s voice is combined with the light, memorable melodies on piano or guitar, it is easy to see why the band has found great success in the German-speaking world. (And they are not afraid to do some English language music, too. But we language learners will stick to the German tunes, right? Right!)
And it is a good thing that AnnenMayKantereit is so recognizable because their music is so popular you seem to hear it everywhere. The German group can be found on television, radio and everywhere in between.
So this month, let’s set toes tapping and learn German with the music of AnnenMayKantereit!
Although pop singer Falco died more than two decades ago, his legacy lives on in today’s Austrian pop music scene. Bands like Wanda and Bilderbuch capture the late musician’s confident swagger, not to mention they serve up incredibly memorable tunes sung in a mix of the Austrian-German dialect. Many will know Falco for the worldwide hit “Rock Me Amadeus.” But who was Falco? This month, let’s explore the pop rock music of Austrian singer Falco and practice the German language.
For those of us who are not quite fluent in the German language, sometimes you need a good challenge. It is like a good kick in the pants, so to speak. Vienna, Austria’s Voodoo Jürgens is just that challenge.
In the days before this digital world in which we live, music fans had to decipher lyrics from liner notes. We would pour over the backs of record sleeves or the booklets inside of CDs. Today, you can generally do a simple web search to find out the text to a song.
I mention all of this because Voodoo Jürgens sings in a Viennese dialect (Wienerisch) of the German language. If you study standard German, or Hochdeutsch, Voodoo’s tunes can be a little challenging, to say the least. But with infectious melodies, confident delivery, and compelling storytelling, the challenge is completely worth it. (At least I think so!)
So this month, let’s take on that challenge and learn German with the music of Voodoo Jürgens!
Looking for something a little different to listen to? Then please allow me to introduce to you Max Raabe and Palast Orchester. maybe the rock, hip hop, or electronic bands previously featured just are not to your taste. Well, how about something a bit more classic? Not classical, per se. What about some music from the Roaring 1920s and 1930s with a modern twist? Think of it now. Carefully fixed hair, bow ties expertly tied, and pocket squares standing at attention as they peek out from pockets.
This month, let’s learn German with the music of Max Raabe and Palast Orchester!
Not unlike their German language music colleagues Rammstein, language does not limit the appeal of Die Toten Hosen. In the German-speaking world, they are major rock stars and they are pretty well known in the rest of the world, too. For nearly 40 years the quintet from Düsseldorf has won rock and punk fans over with their catchy tunes. Their lyrics range from the socially and politically aware to the mundane observations on everyday life. This month, let’s rock out and learn the German language with the music of Die Toten Hosen!
In recent years, Austrian rockers have become all the rage outside of their native country. But long before the likes of Bilderbuch, Wanda or Voodoo Jürgens, der Nino aus Wien was making quite the impact with his German music with a touch of his Viennese dialect (Wienerlied). With his knack for carefully crafting songs and his straightforward delivery, Nino’s music is the kind you turn on and put on repeat. At times it is somber, others it is fun and catchy. Part of his appeal is his casual, everyman approach. Half the time, he appears seemingly bored on stage while performing. But then he opens his mouth or strums his guitar. But it is always worth hearing. So this month, get to know der Nino aus Wien and learn German with music.
With a flashy stage show and intentionally provoking lyrics, Rammstein is famous the world over with their hard rock and metal music. The leather-wearing, fire-spitting performances are nearly as notable as their lyrics, which are often dark and violent. Despite that, Rammstein thrill fans with hard-hitting guitar riffs and equally hard-hitting rhythms. So this month, let’s learn German with the heavy metal music of Rammstein!
Most rock fans will best know Till Lindemann as the leather-wearing, shock provoking, letter “R” rolling frontman of German metal band Rammstein. But under the guise of Lindemann, Till joins forces with Swedish death metal’s Peter Tägtgren (of the bands Hypocrisy and Pain). With his side project, Till wears leather, provokes for shock effect, and rolls his Rs. Some habits are hard to break.
In late November 2019, Lindemann (the band) will release its sophomore full-length. But unlike the band’s 2015 debut, this one features lyrics in the German language. So this month, let’s raise those devil horns high and learn German with the music of metal duo Lindemann.
When Vienna, Austria’s Wanda burst onto the music scene in 2014 it was seemingly out of nowhere. But before the end of that year, the band had a huge hit on their hands with the infectious single “Bologna.” Today, the band has four albums under their belt — all of which went to the top of the charts in their home country and most broke into the top five in Germany. So this month, let’s tune up our German skills and learn German with the music of Wanda!
While every month I highlight a different musical act that performs in the German language, I can’t say that I’m always a big fan of each month’s artist. This month is a little different. Einstürzende Neubauten is, without a doubt, the first German band that I ever really discovered and have been my favorite band, regardless of language, for many years now. While it’s often easy to label musicians as “rock” or “pop,” it’s a little more difficult for Neubauten. At times their music can be noisy and bordering on performance art while other tracks can be decidedly mainstream. But it’s always on their own terms. That means, among other things, unconventional instruments. This month, let’s learn German with the music of Einstürzende Neubauten!