If you want to learn a foreign language, you’re not going to do it simply by going to class and completing exercises in a textbook. You need to live that language and in order to do that you need to speak the language and also take the language in, in more natural ways. Some of the best ways to do this include movies, books and of course music.
Music is great because you get to enjoy the language while you’re learning it. Also as many of you probably know from your encyclopaedic knowledge of lyrics, when we sing things, it’s just easier for us to remember them.
A way to help you learn the lyrics more quickly would be to have a copy of the lyrics up on your screen while you listen to the songs. You can even take it one step further and try to translate the songs or you could just enjoy the music. It’s completely up to you!
The music also gives you a look into the culture. Different countries produce different kinds of music and common genres to come out of Germany include heavy music and electronic music. Having said this, we have tried to give you a little bit of variation in our recommendations. I hope you like them.
Top five artists to help you improve your German
These are our top choices, but I’m sure they’re many others out there and we would love you to share your recommendations with us also.
It’s no surprise that Rammstein are number one on our list. Rammstein is probably the most popular band to come out of Germany with international recognition. This heavy metal band formed in 1994 and have been going strong ever since, often headlining metal festivals. Even if you weren’t learning German I would recommend giving Rammstein a go. Regardless of whether you like metal or not, there’s no denying that they’re a great band and well worth a listen. Learning German while listening to them is just a plus. Also if you ever get the chance to see this band live, that is not something I would turn down. Their stage show is even more impressive than their music and definitely something worth seeing.
If you’re going to give this band a go then I would probably recommend ‘Sonne, Du Hast and Ich tut dir weh.’
This might sound like a strange one but when the Beatles were starting out they did a German tour and translated all of their songs into German. Best news is, they’re all available on youtube and the good thing is you already know the words in English so you’ll be able to understand the translations quicker than with other songs. Also, because the Bealtes are quite poppy, it makes them much easier to sing along to. I would personally recommend ‘Sie liebe dich.’
Obviously with the Beatles you’re not going to be able to see them live, let alone singing German, but they’re still definitely worth a listen on youtube at least.
Kraftwerk are definitely an acquired taste. They are a German electronic band and their strange music leads to a very specific type of fan. I would definitely give them a go, but there’s so much music compared to lyrics that you may not be learning that much German. On the other hand, at least that makes the lyrics relatively easy to learn. Kraftwerk are from the 70s and 80s and popularised the electronic movement, so much so, that a lot of their techniques are still used today.
Tokio Hotel move away from the metal and electronic feel of the other recommendations and have more of a grungy sound to them. Rather than having some songs in German and some in English, Tokio hotel tend to release and English version and a German version of the same song to appeal to larger markets. Which means you’ll be able to find the songs in both languages for comparison. Make sure you watch the music video to see the style that was so popular in the 90’s and 00’s. The band are still touring today so you can go and see them.
Since we’re talking about German bands we had to include another electronic band as it is representative of the music culture in Germany. Eisenfunk were founded in the 00’s but split up in 2014 so you won’t be able to see them live. Though to be honest, their very limited lyrics, and common use of English would probably make them a bit less useful to listen to in order to learn German, but they do give you an insight into a German musical culture which for me is just as important as learning the language.
I wouldn’t want to recommend the artist necessarily as it’s only the song that has reached fame, but this is a German song that should be included in every list of German songs to listen to, to improve your German:
Nena – 99 luftballons
There’s no denying that this is an absolute classic and even if you don’t want to learn German you probably should have heard of this song. Reading the title, it might not be clear to you, but once you’ve played the video, even if you don’t know the German version you will definitely have heard of the English version.
For me, it’s no competition and that’s Rammstein. Not only have they popularised their own country but they have reached incredible success in international markets too and are also a headliner band.
Final thoughts on our German recommendations
We’ve tried to give you some variety in our recommendations rather than just sticking to metal and electronic music which is so popular in Germany. Let us know what German music you use to help you with your German in the comments below. We are always looking for more recommendations and I’m sure it would help the other readers also.
Good luck and keep on learning.