Let’s play a quick little game, which I like to call “gimme five.”
I’ll say a topic, and you shout the first five words that come to your head, which fit in that category. (Go ahead and play in German if you can.) Ok, you ready?
Here we go… action words!
You made it to five, right? Here’s the next one:
You got all five again? All right, here’s the last one:
German bands/musical artists!
How’d we do?
If you couldn’t name any artists, I’m extra excited for you, because you have everything to discover when it comes to amazing German music. Some new favorite artists might just be waiting for you in the song recommendations below, so get fired up.
And for those of you who could easily name five bands, I’m about to share the best places online to download German songs, so stay tuned to keep growing your collection.
What’s So Exciting About Downloading German Songs?
If you’re in need of a good reason to download German songs, here’s one: Linguistics research has shown that music, the sounds of a language and musicality are crucial to language acquisition.
And it’s no secret that catchy song lyrics can function as unique mnemonics to help you remember new words and expressions. (We’ve all gotten a song stuck in our heads before, right?)
Downloading the songs will obviously make them portable, so you can listen to German throughout the day no matter where you are—and whether or not you’ve got Wi-Fi.
So what does the German music world have to offer? Germany, Austria and Switzerland produce great music in all styles. In Germany in particular, there are many native bands that sing in English, but even the most Americanized bands have a few songs sung in German.
On the other hand, Germans are often keen on producing German language versions of popular English language hits—so you have that to look forward to as well.
When I was in Berlin last year, I randomly got to hang out with one of the members of the iconic band Die Happy. In fact, I actually ended up at a showcase at Berlin’s Gibson Guitars auditorium! In the couple of months I spent in Berlin, I was able to feel how vibrant the German music scene is, and found some truly incredible songs.
As a music lover, listening to songs and reading lyrics is one of my favorite ways to practice my German. I love all styles, but my songs of choice include a couple of rap titles, because I feel they are some of the most conducive to language learning.
Where to Stream and Download German Songs
While you may look for German songs in your regular song download platforms, there are others which offer specific German language music channels. Some popular platforms don’t offer anything specific, but their users have created enough German songs playlists to keep you busy for a season.
- 8tracks German is a great streaming service that allows users to create personal playlists. There are hundreds of German music playlists on the platform. Some of my favorites are Das finde ich gut (I think that’s good), Deutschrock and Deutsch Rap.
- Last.fm German offers about 500 German songs to stream and download. Many are free, and others are available for purchase. The site offers a wide range of styles and an intuitive interface.
- iTunes German offers numerous German songs to stream and download for affordable fees, starting at about one dollar per song. If you want to be up to date with the latest German hits, iTunes is the place to go.
- Spotify Goethe Institut is a fabulous German music channel curated by the Goethe Institut. It has electronic, pop and rock playlists—something for everyone’s taste. This is one of my favorite channels, because it has a special focus on useful lyrics (for learners) and really current, high-quality German music.
- Soundcloud German music maniacs is a German music promotion channel I really like from the popular Soundcloud streaming service. From acoustic ditties inspired by the traditional Lieder style to the latest electronic music hits, this channel has it all. With nearly 500 tracks to date, it’s a really cool playlist to explore.
Tips to Learn German with Songs
To maximize your German learning with songs, check out these cool ideas and tips to have some fun while you take your German listening skills and vocabulary to the next level.
- Find songs with activities and worksheets. This is the best way to really learn with songs. Start out with these hidden grammar lessons in 10 awesome songs. Then, you could download some activities based on the song “Nur für Dich“ (Only for you). A site called Deutschdrang also offers many songs with listening activities.
- Sing karaoke. Karaoke and sing-alongs are also great to practice pronunciation. This Deutsch karaoke playlist on YouTube is a good place to start.
- Practice pronunciation. This involves finding the song lyrics, listening and repeating new words until they sound just perfect. Of course, this will hardly work with hard rock—but soft ballads, acoustic music and pop songs are perfect for it. I love Songtexte, a great source for German lyrics. Browsing through the site, I found these really cool lyrics. To get you started, here is “So wie du bist” (The way you are) on YouTube, with lyrics to sing along and practice some useful vocabulary for discussing feelings and relationships.
- Select song themes to learn specific vocabulary. There are German songs about almost any topic. From love songs to songs about cats, you’re bound to find a song about whatever interests you. For example, if you ‘re interested in environmental issues, check out “Altes Lied von und mit Mutter Natur” (Old song from and with Mother Nature).
- Transcribe. Listen to the song a few times before reading the lyrics. Then once you’re a bit familiar with the song, try to transcribe it, and later compare with the lyrics. This is a great exercise for both listening and writing.
- Use music videos. Find songs with music videos for visual aids. Sometimes, an image can give your linguistic brain a hint to understand the meaning of an unknown word. Here’s an interesting German Musikvideos playlist on YouTube.
- Listen to musicals and lyrical music. A narrative element is always welcome in language learning. We all love stories, and stories can help us learn the language while having lots of Spass. If you’re a fan of musicals or the opera, check out this German musicals playlist.
- Find well-known songs in German versions. If you already know the lyrics in English, the new vocabulary will come naturally to you, perhaps even eliminating the need for reading the lyrics. Some great examples are “My Heart Will Go On” (“Weil mein Herz Dich nie mehr vergisst”), “Sie liebt dich” (“She Loves You”) and “Gib mir deine Hand” (“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”) by the Beatles, and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” With the Beatles themselves singing in Goethe’s language and Queen’s anthem transformed into operatic Deutsch, you’re in for a treat.
7 Catchy German Songs You’ve Gotta Download ASAP
1. “Ich will nicht nach Berlin” (I don’t want to go to Berlin) by Kraftklub
Lyrics: “Ich will nicht nach Berlin”
This is a fun song to practice talking about where you’re from, where you live and what your desires and wishes are using Ich will/Ich will nicht (I want/I don’t want).
Kraftklub is a great band if you like punk rock, the kind teenagers love. The song has a bit of teen angst in it. It’s about a boy who doesn’t want to go to Berlin, but maybe he just doesn’t want to grow up. It sounds amazing, and it has one million views on YouTube alone.
2. “Komm schlaf bei mir” (Come sleep at my place) by Ton Steine Scherben
Lyrics: “Komm schlaf bei mir”
This short and simple song can be helpful for practicing your first Dativ declinations, phrases with the conjunction denn (because) and the verb wissen (to know). It’s one of those great, straightforward, acoustic ballads, and its over half a million views on YouTube are a testimony to its power.
3. “Die Geschichte vom Sommer” (The story of the summer) by Peter Licht
Lyrics: “Die Geschichte vom Sommer”
This evocative song about a past summer is great for learning verbs that express movement and to practice language for visual descriptions. The song is one of those slow and catchy tunes which are perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. It has a bit of that reggae kind of feel to it.
4. “Sepp hat gesagt, wir müssen alles anzünden” (Sepp said we must set everything on fire) by PauT
Lyrics: “Sepp hat gesagt, wir müssen alles anzünden”
This fun song about setting everything on fire is great for practicing the Modalverben like sollen (should/shall) and müssen (must).
You’ll love this song if you like Eminem (because it sounds a bit like him), humor in music, or artists who don’t take themselves too seriously.
5. “Haus Am See” (House by the sea) by Peter Fox
Lyrics: “Haus am See”
This is a great song for practicing the Perfckt (present perfect) tense and descriptive language. Shot on the bridge by Museum Island in Berlin, the music video has some pretty neat views.
It’s a fusion song performed by a band with a lot of instruments (violin, numerous drums, etc.), paired with some really cool existential lyrics.
6. “Liebe” (Love) by Sido
This is a great hip-hop ballad about love that can help you learn verbs like wissen (to know), spüren (to sense) and glauben (to believe), plus sentence structures with um…zu (to/in order to) and wenn (if/when).
With a great MC and a catchy chorus, if this were an American song, it would literally be everywhere. Super rich musically, the song also has beautiful lyrics about falling in love and suffering for love; not what you’d expect from the genre, but it really, really works.
7. “Durch die Stadt (Bis an’s Meer)” (Through the city – towards the sea) by Metrickz
Lyrics:“Durch die Stadt (Bis an’s Meer)“
This final song—another hip-hop ballad—has lots of interesting grammar points, including sentence structures with dass (that), wenn (if/when) and als ob (as if). It’s a powerful romantic song about a guy who runs through the city, towards the sea, in a spiritual quest for his lost love, whom he sweetly calls “eine Blüte in der Wüste” (a blossom in the desert).
Let’s not underestimate the power of music to advance our knowledge of German. Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been lands of great poets and musicians, and all three continue to produce excellent variety of German-language songs that any language learner would be excited to explore. Happy listening!