Germany's biggest Schlager festival came to Hamburg at the weekend. DW profiles this uniquely European music genre, which combines traditional folk, Johann Strauss waltzes and pop sensibilities with kitschy stage antics.
With its simple song structures, saccharine melodies and banal yet heart-wrenching lyrics, folksy Schlager music has been on high rotation on German golden oldies radio and in beer halls for decades.
While 1960s Schlager pioneers like Heino sang songs that borrowed from traditional folk, 19th century waltzes and early pop music, it was through popular TV shows like Deutsche Hitparade (1969–2000) and Disco (1971–1982) that Schlager developed into a kitschy, disco-infused hybrid that has since taken it onto dance floors across the German-speaking world.
No longer just a staple of the working-class masses who could sing along to schmaltzy anthems in local pubs and at parties, Schlager now permeates nightclubs and cocktail bars.
Reinvented for the dance floor
Schlager legends like Roland Kaiser have since added a Euro disco edge to their traditional song repertoire, with the singer-songwriter teaming up with Maite Kelly of Kelly Family fame in 2014 to sing "Warum hast du nicht nein gesagt" ("Why Didn't You Say No"), which currently has nearly 75 million views on YouTube.
In recent years, the likes of Schlager queen Helene Fischer have further reinvented the genre and sold over 10 million records in the process. Her 2013 megahit "Atemlos durch die Nacht" ("Breathless Through the Night") reworked classic Schlager via an uplifting Eurobeat rhythm that assured high rotation on dance floors across the nation — and a new generation of fans.
But an earlier generation of singers like Andrea Jürgens, who in 1977 sang one of the great Schlager standards at the young age of 10 with "Und dabei liebe ich euch beide" ("And Yet I Love You Both"), will long be associated with the golden age of the highly nostalgic and sentimental song genre.
Explore the picture gallery above to discover 10 legends of Schlager whose uplifting melodies and epic choruses will live long in German hearts.