German rapper Cro certainly isn’t the first musician to have a gimmick. His just happens to be a panda mask that covers the top half of his face, obscuring his identity. It features an upside-down cross drawn on the mask between the eyes.
Who is Cro, really? While you may ask that about any celebrity or public figure, it is especially relevant when learning about this music star. With no official private identity, we have only the information he provides in song as insight.
But while Cro might be considered a rapper, his music is positively poppy. Since the release of Raop, his debut full-length, in 2012, the young musician has been a star of the German music scene scooping up awards and topping the music charts.
If you are reading this post, then you are probably already pretty aware of how challenging it can be to learn a new language. So, as a German learner, you can empathize with and be wildly impressed by the rapper Casper. Raised in America, he moved to Germany at the age of 11 when his parents split up. And despite having a German mother, his German-language knowledge was practically non-existent. Today, Casper is one of Germany’s most popular rappers. Like I said, impressive — right?
Let’s use his journey and his successes as motivation set to a fantastic soundtrack. This month, learn German with the music of Casper!
In the early 2000s, the German music scene was seeing an exciting new wave of pop music. What makes the music from this time so special — especially for us language learners — is that this movement was dominated by German-language pop music. The female-fronted quartet Juli is one of the most popular of these German pop groups.
What makes Juli so much fun is that their music is easily accessible but with a bit of an alternative twist that is kind of catchy and perfect to sing along to. So this month, let’s get to know Juli while learning German!
These two gentlemen, known together as Gloria, may look familiar to you. One is a known primarily as a member of the band Wir sind Helden, with whom he made four studio albums. The other is a well-known television moderator known for his talk shows and humorous gags. In 2013, Mark Tavassol (the musician) and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf (the television moderator) released their debut self-titled album as Gloria.
Regardless of what you might expect, given the backgrounds of the two men, the resulting music is extremely successful. They have made carefully constructed pop music with strong, driving melodies into their trademark.
So let’s get to know the duo better and practice your language skills with their music. This month, let’s learn German with Gloria!
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!