Rammstein are, arguably, the most well known German band. Their grinding, repeating metal track “Du hast” was an international hit. That track also got them quite a bit of notoriety, even in the United States, where non-English language music in the mainstream is practically unheard of — especially in the late 1990s when it was released. To this day, if you ask someone to name a German band, Rammstein is likely to be the answer.
The German band were just in the right place at the right time. Rammstein are still together, still touring and still making new music. I reviewed “Liebe ist für alle da,” their latest full-length release when it came out in 2009. I have to admit that for a student of the German language who likes hard rock or metal, you can’t really go wrong with Rammstein. In fact, during one of my first classes at the German Society of Philadelphia, my tutor produced the track on her laptop and a lyrics sheet.
Rammstein are probably as known for their on-stage antics as they are for their music. Think Marilyn Manson, David Bowie and Alice Cooper. Consider it performance art. They aren’t to everyone’s taste. But you have to acknowledge they’ve got some pretty catchy songs. While their lyrics aren’t overly complicated — a fact that makes them ideal for those of us learning the German language — they do like to be shocking just for the sake of being shocking. It’s not uncommon to listen to Rammstein’s music and wonder, “did they just say what I think they said?” For someone using the music to practice their German, this is actually a good sign. Not only does it mean you’re listening, it also means you’re able to understand. After all, that’s the goal. And if you can be entertained along the way? Even better.