It is easy to write off bands with light melodies and poppy tunes as not serious. But to make that judgment of Von Wegen Lisbeth would be all wrong. In their more than a decade together, the quintet from Berlin has evolved from what seemed like a straightforward indie-pop band into one offering something far more considered. This month, learn German with the upbeat and energetic tunes of Von Wegen Lisbeth.
In the mid-1980s, even people living in the United States, England, and other English-speaking Western countries knew Nena. The petite German singer re-recorded her 1983 hit “99 Luftballons” in English as 1984’s “99 Red Balloons.” With the translated track she had an international hit on her hands that introduced her outside of the German language music world.
The Neue Deutsche Welle was making waves around the world. Literally, the “New German Wave,” was a genre of German music with roots in punk and rock that started in the late ’70s and early ’80s. With her charming pop appeal and German lyrics, German language learners can practice and get rocking with Nena.
Udo Lindenberg first came to my attention thanks to Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre. I’ve read many of the books and writings of the author/journalist and if there’s one thing he loves, it’s Udo Lindenberg. He is a devoted fan and eventually became a close friend of the musician who left a mark on his childhood that never left.
With more than forty years in music and dozens (literally) of albums under his belt, Udo Lindenberg is a great musician you should get to know. Although his unique vocals can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for German language learners, don’t let it discourage you. Lindenberg’s music is fun and classic.
So, without further ado, let’s learn German with the music of Udo Lindenberg!
Today, Herbert Grönemeyer is a famous and well-respected German musician whose albums soar to the top of the charts. But his musical career really took off, in part, due to his acting career.
In particular, after the release of 1981’s Das Boot. In the film, a young Grönemeyer portrays Lieutenant Werner, a journalist reporting from a German submarine during World War II. The lengthy film keeps you on the edge of your seat as the crew encounters one issue and misfortune after another. But while Das Boot was widely successful and received strong reviews, Grönemeyer’s career took off in a completely different direction not long after. He has continued to act — albeit sparingly.
These days, and for much of the past two decades, Grönemeyer has been best known as a musician. He is also the most successful artist in Germany. His combined album sales total more than 13 million, a strikingly and impressively high number. So it makes perfect sense for German language learners to give Grönemeyer a listen and get some practice!
This month’s featured band, the Donots, would fall into the category of “established.” It doesn’t matter what kind of music you are into it, there is a German-language band or artist making something that will appeal to you.
In 2019, the Donots celebrated their 25th anniversary. In the music industry (or anywhere, really), that’s quite an achievement. And it’s a testament to the music that these five pop-punk musicians create.
So if you don’t know, you’re about to get to know the punk poppers that call themselves Donots!
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!