Because my children haven’t been embarrassed enough by my enthusiastic sing-alongs, here are six more pop songs that I’m using to improve my German language skills.
Added to my playlist, Deutsche Popmusik:
I found lyrics for all of these songs online in the original Deutsch and in English translation. Try MetroLyrics.
1) Leider Geil
By Deichkind; I had to pay $12 from Amazon USA for the CD as it wasn’t on iTunes, but you can easily find and view the video online to check it out for free.
Possibly explicit. Anyone fluent in German care to enlighten me about this song’s degree of rudeness? Please share in the comments if you know.
If you’ve ever seen America’s Funniest Home Videos, you’re well on your way to imagining the music video for Leider Geil. Familiarity with the “watching people do moronic stuff” genre will also help you understand why my young teen son found this song so appealing. This is the only foreign language track he asks to hear.
This song definitely has some mature content (coarse language and references to a one night stand), but, if my translation is accurate, I would allow my teen to listen to an equivalent track in English after some commentary from me about content.
Leider geil translates as “unfortunately awesome,” but geil also means “horny.” My German isn’t good enough to know just how risqué the language is, but it’s awfully catchy. It has a modern, slacker-esque, rhythmic edge that reminds me of the relationship between the Beastie Boys and pop music back when I was a teen. As far as I can tell, the wordplay seems clever in translation.
Are these guys cool? Are they male chauvinists? I have no idea, but I’m enjoying the tune.
I won’t ever forget how to say “unfortunately awesome” now that this song is in my head. I might accidentally deploy the phrase in polite company and embarrass myself. Oops! Leider geil!
From iTunes, I bought a cover version by “Partysingers” of this Herbert Grönemeyer hit.
Here’s an anthem for the men’s movement. Musically, this song is so retro 1980’s, which makes sense since it came out in 1984. It isn’t my favorite track in the playlist, but it’s a good resource for opposite adjectives with lyrics like:
Men have it hard, take it easy,
Outwardly hard, but inside all soft…
3) Tage wie diese
Available on iTunes, by Die Toten Hosen (yup, that means The Dead Pants.)
4) Wir trafen uns in einem Garten
Available on iTunes, by 2raunwohnung.
I’m listing these two songs together because both fall under the umbrella of “songs that sound like the kind of music I might listen to casually in my own language.” Neither has an unforgettable hook of the sort I can’t get out of my mind. Both fit reasonably well into my music library of alternative music, most of it from the late 1990’s and early aughts.
With lyrics in hand, a language learner can easily follow along with the words. The trick, for me at least, is to keep concentrating on them for the purpose of studying; I tend to get distracted by other things because these songs are a little too easy for my mind to transform into background music.
Comfort and familiarity may not be such a good thing when trying to pay close attention and learn.
5) Die Gedanken Sind Frei
Available on iTunes, by the Brazilian Girls.
The Brazilian Girls are apparently not Brazilian, and there’s only one female member in the band. She’s the one singing this pop interpretation of a classic German folk song that translates as Thoughts are Free.
And I am locked in a dark dungeon
I scorn the pain and human works
For my thoughts break the bounds and the walls,
Thoughts are free!
I learned of these lyrics from the lovely children’s book, From Anna, which I’ve previously reviewed. Searching for the full text—which brought me to tears reading the excerpt in the novel—led me to this quirky modern interpretation. I quite like its combination of funky rhythm, lightly overlaid electronics, a pretty, feminine vocal sound, and the traditional protest/progressive lyrics.
6) Da Da Da
As with 99 Luftballons in my first post about catchy German pop songs, this one was already in my music library. Unlike Nena’s really obvious hit, I had forgotten completely that there were German lyrics in Da Da Da. After all, da is the Russian word for yes.
You might remember this song from an old Volkswagen commercial (circa 1997.) If you do recall it, you might hate it. It’s a fairly goofy, very repetitive song with minimal lyrics, but some of them are in German. If you like this kind of electronic sound, you can learn to say “I do not love you, you do not love me” auf Deutsch. I hope that doesn’t come in handy!
If you enjoy Da Da Da, you’ll definitely want to check out Eisbär from my earlier German song post.