12 German Bands To Help You Learn German Through Music
Are you on the hunt for German bands? Then look no further!
Germany has some great bands on offer; from hip-hop to punk rock, and heavy metal to country, there is so much to choose from. And better still?
Listening to German music is a great way to improve your German language skills.
How Can German Bands Help You Learn German?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to fork over lots of money for language lessons with any rock stars!
German music can help you to improve your listening skills and grow your vocabulary. It’s also a fun way to study, especially if you’ve had your head in your books for a long time.
To do this you need to make use of a skill called active listening.
Active listening means listening to these German bands with intent. You pay close attention to what they’re saying and try to figure out the message they’re putting across.
This is often done with the lyric sheet in front of you, so you can sing along and make a note of any vocabulary or sentences you don’t understand. (I’ve provided these in the band list below!)
While listening to music in the background can be great and help you get used to the sounds of German, the passive listening won’t get you any closer to having a conversation. So, make use of active listening while you check out some of these new bands!
In the sections below I’ve outlined 12 German bands for you to listen to, from lots of different backgrounds and genres. There’s a bit of backstory for each band, too, so you can understand their cultural significance and talk about them with your German-speaking friends.
Ready to dive in? Los geht’s!
1. Die Fantastischen Vier
German hip-hop is one of the great wonders of learning German.
The language lends itself well the hard percussion sounds needed for rap music, and there is an eclectic mix of backing tracks you wouldn’t find in the American equivalent.
Die Fantastischen Vier (The Fantastic Four) are German hip-hop royalty and released the first ever complete German-language rap album back in 1991.
Although hip-hop can be intimidating to listen to as a beginner, Die Fantastischen Vier have some pretty accessible songs. The trippy “Tag am Meer” (“Day at the sea”), is rapped slowly and clearly, to ease you in:
I’d highly recommend you listen along with the lyrics, which you can find here.
And if you’re looking for more of a challenge you can check out their hit single, “Zusammen” (“Together”), which also featured as the TV song for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
You can follow along with the lyrics to “Zusammen” here.
2. Wir Sind Helden
Wir Sind Helden (We Are Heroes) are a pop-rock band that started in Berlin. Their lead singer, Judith Holofernes, has one of my favourite voices in German music.
We’re really in intermediate territory here; the lyrics can be a little testing and her accent is, sometimes, a little hard to get into. But if you’re looking to improve your German listening skills, they’re a great band to listen to.
I’d recommended starting with their song “Nur Ein Wort” (“Just one word”), which comes with a lyric video to help you follow along and boost your vocabulary:
It’s also super catchy and you’ll probably still be singing it three hours from now.
If you want another challenging song which is pretty well known throughout Germany, “Denkmal” (“Monument”) is worth a listen:
It’s best to have the lyrics for this (I know I needed them)!
3. Die Toten Hosen
Die Toten Hosen (The Dead Trousers) are a punk band from Düsseldorf who came to fame in the German punk movement in the early 1980s.
They’re one of the most successful bands to come out of that movement. In my experience, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone over the age of 25 who can’t sing one of their songs all the way through.
Some of their songs are slow and melodic which make them a great place to start for a beginner. You don’t need to get caught up in all the Johnny Rotten screaming to understand what they’re talking about.
“Tage wie diese” is a cool song to begin with and talks about collective joy and never wanting a moment to end:
The lyrics are quite easy to follow and contain lots of everyday words.
And for a bit more of a challenge you can try listening to their classic song, “Alles aus Liebe” (“All out of love”), which is a bit of a household ballad (at least in my house):
Here are the lyrics so you can follow along, too.
4. Spider Murphy Gang
Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) was a West German movement in the 1980s with its roots in the punk movement you read about in the last section.
Many of the hits are still played to this day, and whenever I mention my knowledge of Neue Deutsche Welle it’s often met with surprise and respect. So it’s definitely a cool part of the culture to get to grips with.
One of my favourite bands for this is the Spider Murphy Gang. If you’ve listened to much English punk, their sound will be familiar, but it’s easy for a beginner to understand.
Their song, “Wo bist du?” (“Where are you?”), has really simple lyrics and you can learn lots of new vocabulary to help you describe the people around you:
Take a read through the lyrics and jot down any words you don’t know!
“Skandal im Sperrbezirk” (“Scandal in the Sperrbezirk”, which is an area where prostitution is illegal), is a little bit more challenging, but one of the most famous songs from the period:
These lyrics from Genius provide a little more context for the more abstract lyrics. Just click on a line of verse to read the annotation explaining that part of the song.
Rammstein probably don’t need an introduction. They’re a favourite among rock music fans, regardless of whether you speak German or not.
Their songs and texts are pretty simple, which is done on purpose. They’re left open to interpretation, with lots of potential meanings, to allow people to project their own meanings onto the songs.
This is great news for you as a German learner because you can learn simple vocabulary and ideas, and begin to see how different words can be interpreted.
I recommend starting with “Ich Will” (“I want”) which is an easy-to-follow song, and one of their more, erm…family friendly hits.
Here are the lyrics for you to follow along with.
Another great song to try is “Amerika” which is about America’s influence on the world. It’s intertwined with bits of English and household figures which make it easy to follow.
There are only two verses you’ll really need the lyrics for, but it’s always good to have them to follow along with.
6. Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe are Germany’s most successful female band. But, like lots of hyper-successful bands, they struggled to stay together and disbanded for good in 2007.
Their music was met with much controversy in the 1990s because of their aggressive style and their explicit song titles. It’s also a bit, well…assi, but in a cool way.
Their slower songs, like “Warum?” (“Why?”) are easy for a beginner to get into:
Here are the lyrics if you want extra support to follow along.
If you want to test your German and head towards the higher intermediate levels, “Ich Find’ Dich Scheisse” (“I think you’re shi”t) is a funny song to learn from:
As you’ve probably picked up on the pattern by now, here’s a link to the lyrics.
7. Truck Stop
Truck Stop blew my mind when I first stumbled across them.
It’s traditional country music as you know it, with some musical styles reminiscent of old Kenny Rogers or Dave Dudley. Just, you know, sung in German.
The band originally sang in English and then swapped to their mother tongue back in the 1970s. They probably have the clearest and easy to understand music of any band on this list, especially for a beginner. You can hear clear breaks between each word, and there are few abbreviations or slang terms.
My favourite song from Truck Stop is “Wenn es nacht wird, in Old Tucson” (“When night falls in old Tucson”) which is about as country as you can get:
You can follow along with the lyrics here, but they might be hard to read if you’re line dancing.
Another great song from these guys is “Tausend Meilen” (“Thousand Miles”):
You’ll probably need the lyrics for this because there are a few unusual words.
8. Culcha Candela
If you’re into more mainstream pop music, Culcha Candela might be up your street.
They’re a little like if Pitbull has chosen to sing in German and not English. Although they’re a German band, they have a lot of Latin and Spanish influences, and sometimes mix Spanish into their songs.
“Berlin City Girl” is an easy-to-understand party hit which can often be heard in German clubs and bars:
It’s annoyingly catchy and has simple lyrics. (But what pop song isn’t and doesn’t?)
“Eiskalt” (“Ice cold”) follows suit as a dancey, club-style number to bop your head to:
You can sing along with the lyrics here.
9. Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel are a German pop-rock band that grew to worldwide fame in 2007 and 2008, when they won an MTV Video Music Award for their English-language song “Ready, Set, Go!”.
Although they became internationally famous with their English music, they’ve also had great success at home with their German music, hitting the top of the charts multiple times.
For a beginner-level song I’d recommend you listen to “Durch den Monsun” (“Through the Monsoon”), which is quite slow and melodic:
The lyrics contain lots of everyday words and come across more as a conversation than a poem, with lots of German phrases you can use in day-to-day life.
“An deiner Seite” (“On your side”) needs a little more of an intermediate understanding, but shouldn’t be too hard to follow with the lyrics in hand:
Querbeat are a band straight out of the Köln (Cologne) carnival scene.
They’re a large band playing lots of different types of instruments to create a real party atmosphere. Carnival is a big deal in Cologne, and much like Michael Bublé at Christmas, Querbeat find themselves doing lots of performances over that period.
Their song, “Guten Morgen Barbarossaplatz” (“Good morning Barbarossaplatz”) is about a large square in Cologne where people who have been on long nights out tend to find themselves in the early hours. It’s a great example of carnival music which is designed to get you dancing and singing together.
Here’s a lyric video for you to enjoy and sing along with:
If you’re interested in some of the regional German languages and culture, they have songs in Kölsch, the language unique to Cologne. “Tshingderassabum” shows you some of the similarities between the two languages:
But you’re definitely going to need a lyric sheet to understand this one.
Silbermond (Silver Moon) are another great German band with an incredible frontwoman.
After a couple of false starts under different names with different languages, Silbermond started to focus on German songs and their careers took off. They’ve won MTV awards and found themselves placing well in the charts across German-speaking countries.
“Das Beste” (“The best”) is a soft-rock ballad easy for any beginner to get to grips with:
The song’s lyrics follow quite a simple pattern so you can keep time quite easily.
And for a slightly tougher listen check out “Unendlich” (“Never ending”) with the lyrics:
12. Die Beatles
You’ve heard of the Beatles, right?
While still young musicians their label, Odeon Records, convinced them to record some of their songs in German to sell more songs there. A singer from Luxembourg translated the songs “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” into German and taught Paul McCartney and John Lennon how to pronounce them phonetically.
These songs are cool for any beginner because they’re sung in a non-native accent, and they’re tunes you’re familiar with.
You can listen to “Komm gib mir deine Hand” below with the lyrics here:
And you can listen to “Sie liebt dich” here with the lyrics as well:
It’s Time To Sing And Dance Your Way To Fluency…
I hope by now you’ve got some new ideas of German bands to listen to. But I want to hear from you.
Do you have any favourite bands you think we should have featured? Or, did one of the bands on this list become your new favourite German language band?