(A little late due to technical difficulties in Italy this weekend – more on that trip later in the week!)
Buckle up, roll the windows down, and get ready to cruise the Autobahn in style. Crank the radio up, then quickly flip through the stations as you get bored of hearing every American hit ever made (is that selfie deal even a real song?!) when you came here to drive fast and pump German music. Take two. Try the jams below instead for a better, more authentic experience. These are a few of my favorites and/or most-heard tunes:
German rap? Omg indeed. Personal and social speculation about right living are pretty light in this song but the novelty of the style makes it hard to ignore. Rapper Marteria asks himself in the hook, “Oh my god, this heaven / Where the hell should it be?”
A song I hate to love, but can’t help dancing along to. Helene Fischer sings a typical pop love song (“Breathless through the night”) to a super catchy dance beat. My most vivid memory of hearing this so far was during Fasching/Karneval inside a tented club, where the crowd went crazy when the DJ put it on.
In this earnest-sounding tribute called “Songs”, Adel Tawil drops names and title lyrics all over the place to tell the story of musical influences from his childhood in the 80s and 90s. Even if you don’t know any German, listen for references to David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, and Prince (lila Regen = purple rain). Click here for U.S. link.
“And we were like vampires” has the feel of a classic German folksong set to a house music beat. As odd as the title sounds at first, it’s actually not that strange. After all, vampires and young people (I can only assume the now 69-year-old Jürgen Drews is reflecting on his youth) stay up all night and live forever.
I appreciated this song early on solely because I could understand the lists of fruits, sweets, and ladies’ names followed by the title lyric “But please, with cream.” The message is something akin to wanting to have your cake and eat it too. From the 1970s by Austrian singer Udo Jürgens, this song is rarely on the radio but has also been remixed into a weirder metal version by the band Sodom.
I find this one particularly charming as it is sea shanty, unusual to hear on the radio but nevertheless relatively often played. The lyrics are similar to what you would expect a sea chantey in English to be: “one duffle bag per man,” “we pull through the storms,” and of course the title lyrics in the refrain: “with the salt on our skin / and the wind in our face.” All talk of sticking together through bad weather, living among the waves, and banding together with fellow sailors performed by the band Santiano.
Axel Fischer and “Dream of Amsterdam” embody my stereotype of disheveled, guitar-toting, hitch-hiking, hostel-hopping European young people. It is idealism and optimistic love set to a hoppy beat in the clandestine capital city of the Netherlands.
2. Time Warp
The most well-known single of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame is inexplicably popular here. True, it’s an English song but it’s British and from the 70s. I never understood Rocky Horror but I guess it’s just a cult classic thing I never picked up on. I certainly have no idea why it acquired international fame. The first time I heard it on the radio in Germany was also the first time I drove past Burg (castle) Frankenstein on my commute to work. It was completely eerie and fantastic timing.
I wish I could say I have the chance to rock out to this more. Frustratingly, I’ve usually been stuck in traffic or creeping through town at a mere less than 50 kilometers per hour (it’s slower than it sounds: about 30 miles per hour). Falco, the musician who developed this 90s hit about Wofgang Amadeus Mozart that somehow gained success in the U.S. as well, hails from Vienna, Austria where I recently traveled. Vienna was also, of course, once home to Mozart himself.
Hope you enjoyed the ride and the tunes!