learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

Learn German with Song Lyrics: 5 Artists to Get You Started

Did your high school English teacher dock your grade for listening to music in class?

Well, put those headphones back on, because listening to German music with the song lyrics is totally acceptable!

In fact, we encourage it. Why?

German song lyrics can help you learn German grammar, vocabulary and idioms – the way they’re sung on the street!

Tips on Learning German with Song Lyrics

  • Find German songs online. What are some ways to get started learning German with song lyrics? You can use websites like SpotifyPandora8tracks and even YouTube to discover new German artists like Samy Deluxe, Xaiver Naidoo, Blumio and more. Stations like Planet Radio.de play the latest top 40 hits.
  • Go easy on yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t understand what artists are saying from just listening to the song on repeat alone, especially with German rap lyrics. With rhymes flying at over 80 words a minute, learning German from rap lyrics isn’t easy. (In fact, I probably can’t even understand what most rappers are saying in English.)
  • Look up lyrics and their translations. Lyrics sites like Song Texte or Lyrics Translate, which provide a direct translation in parallel to the original text, can help you make sense of the German. Use Google TranslateDict.Leo or any of these recommended German dictionary apps to look up any additional words or phrases you don’t understand.
  • Watch out for German slang. Keep in mind that many artists use an informal form of German, considered “Umgangssprache,” or “street German,” as opposed to the “Hochdeutsch” or “high German” taught in schools. This can be a huge advantage when you’re hanging out with college students, but they might not show up on your B1 test.
  • Play lyrics games. Remember when you followed the bouncing ball in old Disney sing-a-long songs? Well you can fill in the blanks with the missing words at Lyrics Training, a language learning lyrics game. Choose from various difficulty levels and even a karaoke function to sing along!
  • Use FluentU to learn with music videos. FluentU is a comprehensive solution that has a lot of the benefits of the previous options, and much more. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into German learning experiences so that you can learn real German as people really speak (and sing) it. Check it out!
  • Learn German with Apps

    Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts.

    Learn German with Videos on FluentU

    You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

    Learn German with Videos

    And FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a complete platform for learning. It’s designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

    Learn German with Videos on FluentU

    The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. This is a level of personalization that hasn’t been done before.

    Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.

Today, I’ll share some songs from my favorite German artists – many of them hip-hop and R&B artists – that I’ve used to improve my listening comprehension and German speaking skills.

So get ready to check out some sick new beats, sing (or rap) along and improve your German – with song lyrics! I hope you have as much fun learning German as I do!

5 German Artists to Get You Started

1. Samy Deluxe

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

Do you know what Samy Deluxe, German rapper and hip-hop artist, is saying? Check out this tongue twister from his song, “Sprech Wie Ich Sprech” off his hit album, Dis Ist Wo Ich Herkomm (2009).

Samy Deluxe: “Sprech Wie Ich Sprech

“Deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache, sprech wie ich sprech (ich sag’)

Deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache, rap wie ich rap (ich sag’)”

(German language difficult language, speak like I speak (I say)
German language difficult language, rap like I rap (I say))

Of course, it sounds a lot better in its native language, but it just goes to show that even German speakers acknowledge how hard it is to speak German! A Hamburg native whose parents immigrated from Sudan, Samy Deluxe is a great example of why Germany is a country of cultural diversity – “multikulti,” as they call it – and home to many speakers of German as a second language.

A unique and authentic voice in and of Germany, Samy sings about race, class, demographic change and growing up in Germany, sometimes even poking fun of the German language itself. For example, nothing seems to rhyme with the word for “CEO” in German: Vorstandsvorsitzender.

“Deshalb versuch ich auf Deutsch zu singen

ohne dabei zu Deutsch zu klingen

ich würde gern’ Worte benutzen wie Vorstandsvorsitzender

doch das geht nicht, weil ich in Deutschland bin (ouh yeah) (und sag’).”

(Therefore I try to sing in German
without sounding too German
I’d like to use words like “CEO”
but that doesn’t work, because I’m in Germany (oh yeah… and say…))

2. Xaiver Naidoo

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

What’s a better way to learn your ABCs and 123s in German than with Sesamestrasse, Germany’s Sesame Street? Longitudinal education research reports that children who watched Sesame Street as preschoolers actually had better grades in high school – so imagine what it could do for your German!

Xaiver Naidoo: “Was wir alleine nicht schaffen

Click the link above to check out the episode of Xaivoo Naidoo and Elmo as they learn an important lesson about working together.

Naidoo sings, “Was wir alleine nicht schaffen, dass schaffen wir so zusammen.”
(What we cannot achieve alone, we can achieve together.)

Here are some phrases that might be a little bit harder to understand in this video. Preview these words so you know what Xavier says before you watch the video to reinforce your learning during viewing.

Key vocabulary:
Der Leiter – The ladder

Backen – To bake

Dass erscheint mir viel gescheiter – That seems much wiser to me

Ich fange dich auf wenn du dich fallen lässt – I catch you if you let yourself fall

3. Blumio

Difficulty Level: Native

learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

Each week Blumio, an Asian-German rapper who gained his fame through YouTube, raps his take on the latest news. From the Syrian conflict to German elections, Blumio covers it all. You also may find that he’s quite critical of the events lately, a cultural practice not uncommon in most conversation circles.

From commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to teaching young viewers about ultra-consumerism through demand for the iPhone 6, Blumio’s perspective is another example of how the German voice is not one size fits all, and how German music comes in all sizes, shapes and forms.

Blumio Rap Da News: “Episode 97”

In a recent im gerappten Rückblick (or in “rapped roundup”) Blumio comments on the coverage of Xavier Naidoo’s recent concert for peace at the Reichstag in Berlin, which was misinterpreted by the media to accuse Xavier of being right-winged. (See, I told you, these German rappers are everywhere!). In Episode 97, Blumio raps about how the media always seems to portray events the way they want to portray them, hypocritically and often deeply incoherent.

Native German

Why does Blumio’s Rap Da News have what might be described as a “native” difficulty level? Blumio uses a lot of colloquial language and slang that a native speaker may be more familiar with, as well as addresses complex issues in such ways that highlight his lyrical craft. Check out these key words that you might hear in this latest rendition of Rap Da News. (Warning: this may not be a politically correct video to some viewers!)

Key Vocabulary:
Rechts sein – To be right-winged or conservative

Recht haben – Literally, in German, “to have right” means “to be right”! (Hint: don’t mix up the two!)

Ein Konzert über den Frieden zu geben – To give a concert about peace

Feind beschreiben – To describe the enemy

Zwingen – To coerce or to force

4. Cro

Difficulty Level: Basic to Intermediate

learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

Imagine a world where you could afford anything you ever wanted. You certainly wouldn’t worry about money anymore, which is what Cro sings about to a girl in the song “Einmal Um Die Welt”. Don’t be fooled by his strange animal masks.

Born Carlo Waibel, the 24-year-old Cro, self proclaimed King of “Raop,” a combination of rap and pop, is one of Germany’s most popular artists. (Cro is quite modest about his English in this article, as he comments about the differences of succeeding in the German and American music market, but hey – it’s a lot better than most Americans’ German!)

Cro: “Einmal Um die Welt”

Listen to “Einmal Um die Welt” and follow along with the lyrics here. You might hear the following words or idioms.

Key Vocabulary:
Baby bitte mach dir nie mehr sorgen um Geld – Baby please never worry yourself about money

Gib mir nur deine hand – Just give me your hand

Ich kauf dir Morgen die Welt – Tomorrow I’ll buy you the world

(Notice that in many German songs, artists will shorten words or syllables, but it’s not often grammatically correct. You might already know that the full form of the phrase is “Ich kaufe dir … etwas!” He does the same thing in the line “Und ‘nem Safe an der Wand,” where the full phrase is “Und einem Safe an der Wand” – And with a safe on the wall.)

Surfen auf Hawaii – Surfing in Hawaii

Shoppen in LA – Shopping in Los Angeles

(German grammar note: You surf “auf” Hawaii, but shop “in” LA. Why? No idea. German just has its rules!)

5. Glasperlenspiel

Difficulty Level: Advanced

learn german with song lyrics 5 artists to get you started

All right ladies, I must admit this feature of German music artists has been a little one-sided, so I’d like to conclude with a shout out to one of my favorite bands with a female singer: Glasperlenspiel. While the German rap and hip-hop scene may be dominated by male artists, female vocalist Carolin Niemczyk is one girl who takes the lead in the pop scene.

Accompanied by keyboardist Daniel Grunenberg, this electro-pop duo named themselves after Nobel Prize winning German author, Herman Hesse’s last novel, “Das Glasperlenspiel” (“The Glass Bead Game”). Their hit single “Grenzenlos” or “Limitless” reached the top ten charts in Germany in 2013.

Glasperlenspiel: “Grenzenlos

Here are the lyrics with some key vocabulary words defined below. I hope you can use the tools mentioned above to look up the rest of the words you don’t know!

Warning: if you look up this song online using Songtexte, the lyrics are wrong! These are the correct lyrics:

Grenzenlos
Lass uns verschwinden im Nebel, im Licht,
im Schatten dieser Nacht sieht man uns nicht
unauffindbar, führ’ mich aus,
ich lad’ dich ein, weit hinaus,
denn geht die Sonne und der gehen wir auf

(Chorus:)
Keine Träume sind wir uns zu groß,
Ich schwör dir heute sind wir grenzenlos,
Wir werden wahr und wir fallen hoch,
Ich schwör’ dir heute sind wir grenzenlos.

(Verse 2:)
Wenn unmöglich wieder möglich wird,
sich alles Schwere so leicht verliert,
mit Bass und Beat gehen wir laut,
auf die Dächer hoch hinaus
wir sehen wie die Sterne auf uns schauen.

(Chorus x 1)

(Verse 3:)
Weisst du noch was du mal geträumt hast, erinner’ dich,
Weisst du noch was du geträumt hast, erinner’ dich an dich,
Weisst du noch was du mal geträumt hast, erinner’ dich an dich,
Erinnert dich an dich!
x 3

(Chorus x 1)

Key vocabulary:
Der Nebel – The fog

Das Licht – The light

Der Schatten – The shade

Ich schwör dir – I swear to you

Unauffindbar – Undiscoverable

Führ’ mich aus  – Take me out (from the separable prefix verb ausführen)

Hoch hinaus – High and far out

I hope that these artists will help you get started learning German with song lyrics. Needless to say, there are many more great German artists to discover out there. Thanks for reading! Bis zum nächsten Mal! Until next time!

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