German Lyrics Crossing Borders | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 09.01.2005
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German Lyrics Crossing Borders

Pop sounds best in English? Not anymore. German texts are finding their own niche in pop, even among bands that come from Sweden, Poland or the US. Or when Argentina is on the tour schedule.


It doesn't have to be English: "Die Toten Hosen" rock in Argentina

The punk rockers that make up the band "Die Toten Hosen" can easily pack out even the biggest concert halls in Buenos Aires.

"And 'In Extremo' -- they do German hard rock, and are invited to play shows in Mexico," said Björn Akstinat, the director of the German Music Export office helps German bands to market themselves abroad. But that also means doing a bit of public relations work here at home, he added.

"The world loves German music," he said. "The Germans just don't know it."

The language of hard rock

After all, it's not as if no one outside of Germany understands German.

"A survey we did found that, in the US alone, there are six million people who speak German," said Tobias Mindner of the Verein für Deutsche Sprache, an organization for the protection of the German language. "German is much more significant than we think."

In Serbia, for example, the band "Kraljevski Apartman" produces hard rock with German lyrics.

"In Scandinavia, German is widely used in the hard rock and heavy metal scene, because it's such a powerful language," Mindner said.

The Swedish band "Covenant" even produced its entire album "Future-Pop" in German. The reason?

"Germany is our biggest market, and many Germans find it difficult to understand English texts," according to the band.

Eastward expansion

In eastern Europe, German texts are becoming more and more popular, and not just because of the already-mentioned "Kraljevski Apartman." The Romanian rockers "Ricochee" recorded an entire album in German -- to "keep alive the German influence on the Transylvanian culture," as they say.

In Slovenia, "Sestre" sings in German, and in Poland, "Ich Troje" even entered a song with German lyrics in the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest.

"In Warsaw, German folk singers from the 1960's are trendy," Mindner said. "There are even dedicated radio stations for this music."

Catchy tunes


German pop singer Nena enjoyed a lucky break in the US in the 1980s

Akstinat stressed though that it's not just the text that makes German music popular.

"A lot depends on the melody, of course," he said. "And on the show. 'Rammstein' uses a lot of pyrotechnics, and 'In Extremo' uses these instruments from the Middle Ages."

And what about Nena, who became popular in the US during the 1980's? "She was lucky," Akstinat said. "A DJ brought her record to the US from Germany and just took a chance and played it."

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