An American’s Intro to German Music

When Nomad NewsCaitlin Hardee and I first met, we discovered that we had something unusual in common. At our respective college radio stations, we each produced and hosted a weekly German music show.

If I tell most people this, they think: polka-y oomp-pah music, monotonous electronic music, or “99 Red Balloons.” However, Germany has, in the past 10 or so years, been home to something of a musical renaissance. Despite the fact that most of what gets played on German radio stations is in English, a lot of German-speaking artists are breaking through. Unlike the 80s Neue Deutsche Welle movement, of which Nena’s “99 Luftballons” was a part, German artists are breaking through in all genres with creative, catchy, and actually good music. It was a pleasure sharing this music with an American audience on the radio, getting phone calls saying, “This is awesome, what is this?”

I sort of miss being a self-appointed ambassador of German music, so I thought I’d share a couple of my current favorites with you.

1. Seeed – “Molotov”

Seeed is one of the most popular groups in Deutschland, and it’s easy to understand why. With their 10-odd members and their hectic and eclectic mix of rock, reggae, dancehall and electronic, they effortlessly bring together seemingly contradictory elements into catchy, fun music. Even though “Molotov” is under three minutes in length, it’s one of the most infectious songs I’ve heard in a long time.

2. Frittenbude – “Wings”

This song is Frittenbude at their best: laid-back yet exuberant.

3. Fettes Brot – “Bettina, Zieh Dir Bitte Etwas An”

Okay, so this is mostly just absurd (especially the video), but really funny. Fettes Brot are Germany’s answer to old-school rap. Also, I wonder if Lady Gaga (or whoever produces her videos) was inspired by this when making the video for “Bad Romance.”

4. – “Waidmanns Heil”

So while the other artists I’ve mentioned are fairly huge, this is the project of a young up-and-coming artist named Lena Dobler. Her 2011 EP, Vorstadtstraßen, is probably my favorite German indie pop that I’ve heard. She writes wonderful songs, has a great voice, and I hope she gets all the attention she deserves. Check her out.

5. Peter Fox – “Alles Neu”

Peter Fox is the solo side project of one of the members of Seeed, and was a huge sensation in Germany. Despite only ever making one album, Stadtaffe, this is some of the best music to come out of Germany in recent years. Also, this video is great.

2 responses to “An American’s Intro to German Music

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