Germany has made significant contributions to the world of music. But which are the most famous German songs? This article explores exactly that.
“99 Luftballons” by Nena
Song Year: 1983
“99 Luftballons” is arguably the most famous German song worldwide. Even if people can't name a German song, many know this one. The song is even translated into English as “99 Red Balloons.”
The song is upbeat, fun to listen to, and has catchy lyrics. As fun, as the song is, it has a deep meaning. The song is all about how the German people had many dreams before WWII changed their lives forever. This song helped Nena become one of German history's most successful pop singers.
“Leider Geil” by Deichkind
Song Year: 2012
Deichkind is one of the most famous hip-hop and electronic acts to come from Germany. The group is known for its funny and ironic lyrics. “Leider Geil” is one of their most famous songs and translates roughly to “unfortunately awesome.”
The song is all about how even though some things are awful, there are some great things too, unfortunately. For example, cars create a lot of pollution, which isn't good, but a new, fancy car is “unfortunately awesome.” The whole song features other examples like that, and if you like hip-hop music, it's worth listening to.
“Männer” by Herbert Grönemeyer
Song Year: 1984
Herbert Grönemeyer is one of the most famous commercial artists from Germany, and his song “Männer” is a widely known song that made waves in 1984. The song, like many other German songs, is somewhat satirical.
It's all about how strong men are on the outside but also how “weak” they can be. Of course, he doesn't legitimately mean weak, but how society views men crying as a sign of weakness. It's a great song to listen to, and if you're interested in learning German, it's helpful.
“Allein Allein” by Polarkreis 18
Song Year: 2008
“Allein Allein” is a German pop song that quickly became one of the most popular from Polarkreis 18 when they released it in 2008. The song resembles a lot of pop songs with repetitive lyrics and a great beat.
The title translates to “alone, alone,” and the lyrics are about how the singer feels alone in various aspects of their life. Even though the lyrics are rather sad, it's hard not to start dancing when the song comes on.
“Dreh auf” by Marie Bothmer
Song Year: 2019
Marie Bothmer's song, “Dreh auf,” literally translates to “Turn it up.” She's a pop singer from Munich, and many of her songs, including this one, are the epitome of pop music. The concept of the song is all about how music can be a refuge for people.
As you listen to the lyrics, they talk about how someone longs for warmth, whether from the weather or a feeling you get from happiness. Bothmer sings about being overwhelmed by urban life and all the feelings that come along with that.
“Durch Den Monsun” by Tokio Hotel
Song Year: 2005
Tokio Hotel's song “Durch Den Monsun” translates to “Through the monsoon” and is the perfect example of German rock music. The song was so popular they even re-released it in English two years after the original recording.
It was the band's debut single and they even had the opportunity to sing it on the MTV Europe Music Awards. The lyrics are about pushing through the storm, in this case, a monsoon, to get to better days. The powerful lyrics and remarkable instrumentals make it a must-listen German song.
“Maschin” by Bilderbuch
Song Year: 2013
Bilderbuch's “Maschin” song literally translates to “machine.” Like other German artists, their songs are upbeat, fun, and stylish, and the music videos tend to be satirical and ironic. While the name might not suggest it, the song is about falling in love at first sight.
Many of the lyrics refer to not wanting the person they're in love with to leave them even for a second and how they want them to hop in their car and just drive.
“Tour de France” by Kraftwerk
Song Year: 1983
Kraftwerk is one of Germany's most iconic and celebrated electronic music bands. “Tour de France” came out in 1983 and was an instant hit throughout the country and in many parts of Europe.
The song is all about the experience of competing in the world's famous cycling race, the Tour de France. The lyrics are repetitive but catchy, making it one of the easiest German songs to learn because it uses a lot of German geography vocabulary words. Plus, it's fun!
“DYNAMIT” by Matz Wagemann
Song Year: 2019
Matz Wagemann has music in his soul. Before he started making more mainstream music, he was touring as a teenager in an orchestra. His song “Dynamit” translates to “dynamite” and perfectly combines hip-hop, jazz, and Latin sounds.
Even without knowing the lyrics, this song makes it hard to stay seated. The lyrics showcase how strong the singer is and their drive to succeed. This German song is great if you need a motivational song to kick-start your motivation.
“Du Hast” by Rammstein
Song Year: 1997
Rock music doesn't just come from the United States. Rammstein is one of the most famous rock bands in Germany. They have several international hits, including “Du Hast.” It comes from their second album and has been featured in movies and video games.
The song's title is a play on words when you translate it into English. It's a play on the words “du hasst,” which means “you hate,” and “du hast,” which means “you have.” It'll be hard not to want to learn the lyrics, but even the beat is worth jamming out to.
“Da Da Da” by Trio
Song Year: 1981
“Da Da Da” took over the German charts in 1982. The song sold over 13 million copies, and when Trio recorded the song in English, it went double platinum in Canada! The song title translates to “there, there, there.”
The lyrics roughly translate to “I love you not, you love me not.” Throughout the song, you'll hear many English words thrown in too. The song was even used in a Volkswagen commercial back in the 1990s.
“Haus am See” by Peter Fox
Song Year: 2008
This song by Peter Fox reached number eight on the German single charts, making it one of the most popular. “Haus am See” translates to “house on the lake.” This fun and lighthearted song is about Peter Fox dreaming of living in a house on a lake.
The song's vibe mixes pop and reggae, but pop stands out more. The song is optimistic, so it's no wonder why this song became so popular in Germany.
“Usain Bolt” by Tessy
Song Year: 2018
As the title might suggest, this song is about the Olympic Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt. Tessy is a rapper and singer from Berlin who doesn't let anyone criticize their dreams. The song is a happy song that's great for working out, taking a walk, or wanting something upbeat.
It's a great song to start your day on the right foot. The beat is super fun, and the message is even better.
“Leichtes Gepäck” by Silbermond
Song Year: 2015
Silbermond's song “Leichtes Gepäck” translates to lightweight luggage. It's safe to say that almost everyone's been stuck in the cycle of thinking that getting more of something will make them happy, but ultimately it ends up unsatisfying.
The song is about letting go of possessions you don't need and relationships, feelings, and other emotional baggage. The meaning behind the song is excellent, showing that you need less than you think to be happy.
“Warum?” by Tic Tac Toe
Song Year: 1995
Tic Tac Toe released this German hit in 1995, but it's still a widely known song from Germany. The song is similar to other popular German music with upbeat instrumentals but lyrics with a more serious tone.
The song is about two friends who could always count on one another and spent a lot of time together at one point in their lives. Ultimately, the song talks about how they drift apart and wonder why that happened.
“Was for ein Life” by LOT
Song Year: 2018
LOT is a Berlin singer who is known for chasing a glamorous lifestyle. He's still signed to an independent record label. “Was for ein Life” is a symbolic song with lyrics that are more powerful than the beautiful beat.
The song is a little repetitive, but that's part of its charm. The song talks about someone having a life where everyone respects and marvels at him. Whether it be police officers, school teachers, or the mayor, he sings about a great life
“Traum” by CRO
Song Year: 2014
CRO's song “Traum” translates to “dream.” This song is a massive hit in Germany thanks to the catchy beat and colorful lyrics. The singer is famous for the panda mask that he wears, which you can see in the music video for this song.
The song is a love song, talking about how the singer will do whatever it takes to end up with the one he loves. Parts of the song talk about how he's willing to go to bed lonely until he has his partner.
“NA-MI-KA” by Namika
Song Year: 2015
This German song by Namika doesn't need a title translation. The German singer is spelling her name. The singer has a different given name stemming from her German and Moroccan heritage, so she goes by her stage name Namika.
The lyrics behind the song tell the story of how difficult life can be for a mix-race individual in Germany and anywhere. The song is still fun and upbeat but has a great message.
“Ein bisschen kapiutt” by Dazzle
Song Year: 2019
“Ein bisschen kapiutt” roughly translates to “slightly damaged” and “all a little broken.” Dazzle is known for making some of the best party music in Germany. Like other German songs, the beat is fast and fun, while the lyrics are more profound.
The lyrics feature parts about how everyone is a little broken but doing their best. The overall theme revolves around consumer society and how no amount of purchasing things will make us whole.
“Fühlt sich wie fliegen an” by Max Herre ft. CRO
Song Year: 2012
We've already mentioned the German artist CRO on our list, but he teamed up with Max Herre to release “Fühlt sich wie fliegen an,” which was almost an instant hit. The title loosely translates to “feels like flying.”
The message behind the lyrics suggests that love doesn't have to be hard. Real love should be simple, easy to carry, and feel as easy as if you were flying. The song is perfect for a party when you're driving or really whenever.
“Eisbär” by Grauzone
Song Year: 1980
German New Wave music was one of the most popular styles, and Grauzone released “Eisbär” under this genre. The lyrics are kind of funny unless you understand the meaning behind them. The main lyrics talk about how he wishes he were a polar bear.
As odd as that might seem, he wishes he was a polar bear because he wouldn't have to deal with real-world problems, and everything would be better. The music features guitars, drums, and synthesizers, giving it its unique sound.
“Wir sinds wir” by Paul Van Dyk en Peter Heppner
Song Year: 2004
It's no secret that Germans felt a lot of insecurity at the turn of the last century, thanks to the economic slump. “Wir sinds wir” is a song that showcases many Germans' feelings. Maybe it didn’t join the list of the best musics of 2004, but it’s still great.
As upsetting as the time was, the song highlights that this was just a “bad time” and not indicative of how the future will be. Some consider it an anthem of hope for Germans, and it was accepted well throughout the country and for those with German heritage.
“Mutter” by Rammstein
Song Year: 2001
“Mutter” translates to “mother” in English and is the title of Rammstein's hit song. The song has a deep meaning that, unfortunately, many people can relate to. Generally, the song is all about unhappy relationships with mothers.
The lyrics tell a strange story that captures those feelings. It's about a child born in an experiment with no real mother or father. The child in the story has a complicated relationship with his adoptive mother and sings about killing her and then himself. It's very dark and not for the faint of heart.
“Münchener Freiheit” by Ohne dich
Song Year: 1986
Ohne Dich released “Münchener Freiheit,” and it quickly became a favorite in Germany. The song is somewhat of a love song. The singer talks about how he won't sleep at night until their love is all theirs.
Anyone who's ever had a crush before can relate to the lyrics about how all they want to do is impress the one they like.
“Tage Wie Diese” by Die Toten Hosen
Song Year: 2012
Even though most German artists aren't well known, or known at all in America, Die Toten Hosen is a pretty well-known punk band from Germany. They were huge in the 1980s during the punk movement, and “Tage Wie Diese” is still a great song.
The title translates to “Days like these,” and it's a great song to listen to if you're new to the German music scene. It was the most requested song at Oktoberfest events throughout Germany in 2012.
“Lili Marlene” by Marlene Dietrich
Song Year: 1944
Marlene Dietrich released “Lili Marlene,” and even though it's not hers, her rendition has become one of the most famous German songs. It's a German love song that many singers have recorded because of its excellent lyrics and music.
The song was initially popular in WWII with soldiers on both sides who couldn't wait to be home with the people they loved. The lyrics are colorful, and if you're looking for a song to help you learn the language, it's great.
“Mädchen” by Lucilectric
Song Year: 1994
“Mädchen” literally translates to “girl” in English and might be Lucilectric's most well-known song. The song is the perfect blend of alternative, rock, and pop music which is why it reaches so many different audiences.
The song is about a girl singing about how attractive a man is and what she wants to do with him. Some lyrics talk about getting coffee, taking him home, and more.
Best German Songs, Final Thoughts
Though highly underrated by many, German music is filled with different artists crossing genres. Whether you're into metal, EDM, pop, or another genre, a tremendous German song is waiting for you to hear it.