Remember when MTV was cool?
You know, when they actually played music videos instead of shows about teenage pregnancy?
Ah, those were the days.
That is, the days in which the music video quickly became an art form, from Michael Jackson’s zombie-riddled “Thriller” video to Britney Spears telling us about how her loneliness is killing her.
That’s not to say that music videos have gone by the wayside. Heck, videos like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” even get level-headed guys like Kanye West all riled up.
What’s great is that MTV’s new status hasn’t completely destroyed music videos. MTV has simply been replaced by the wonders of YouTube. You can quickly queue up a song, blast it on your speakers and watch the video when you’re supposed to be working or studying.
But you’re not actually putting anything off—you’re learning German! So, watching a German music video is far from procrastinating. It’s productive study time.
That’s right. We’re giving you permission to browse music videos on YouTube. Just don’t get caught up reading the comments or clicking on a link to “Gangnam Style” in the process.
These German songs are all accompanied by great video, so it gives you some rare opportunities to learn new words with the help of mouth movements and visual cues. It’s also nice because when you’re searching for certain artists and songs through YouTube, it provides recommendations for you to expand your options with other related content.
How German Music Videos Can Help You Learn German
Looking for something more geared towards language learners than YouTube?
What’s cool about FluentU is that music videos and other YouTube learning videos are integrated into the platform. It not only lets you watch and listen to the tracks, but it provides a beautiful translation interface for pausing and working with the video to learn grammar, phrases and pronunciation.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Since this is the content that native German speakers actually watch, you get the chance to experience how modern German is spoken in real life.
Here’s just a brief example of the variety of content you’ll find on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday German by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
This way, you get German immersion online without ever worrying about missing a word.
Just tap on any subtitled word to instantly see an in-context definition, usage examples and a memorable illustration to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to your vocabulary list for later review.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
FluentU will even keep track of all the German words you’ve learned, then recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know. Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
So, whether you’re watching your music videos in FluentU or YouTube, it’s nice knowing how the process is improving your German learning process.
- You get to hear, watch and sometimes even read the German lyrics. Subtitles are great for seeing how words are spelled, but even without them you can work on listening and watching a German person speak.
- Music videos have an advantage over songs because they provide imagery. So, you get a chance to view German landmarks, clothing styles, historical imagery and other cool stuff from German culture.
- Videos are fun to play at any time during the day. Listen to the videos while working, put them on during a party or while you’re at the gym. With mobile devices nowadays, there’s no limit to where or when you can immerse yourself in the German language.
- Music videos help you discover new songs you may like. Add the new audio tracks to your MP3 device. Many people like testing out songs through YouTube before going out and buying from another source.
- YouTube videos are free. If you’re looking to learn German on the cheap, make a YouTube music video playlist instead of paying for tracks through iTunes or Spotify.
And if you love learning German with music videos, you can fuel your passion with FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You can just sit back, relax and read along with the subtitles. Missed a word? Just hover your cursor over the word in the subtitles to see its definition, in-context usage, illustration and audio pronunciation. Alternatively, you can kick things up a notch with interactive learning features like flashcards and vocabulary lists. Not to mention, everything’s personalized for your learning level and style based on the content you’ve been learning.
Now, without further ado… some of the coolest German music videos for your enjoyment.
9 Killer German Music Videos for Audiovisual Learning
“Eure Mädchen” (Your Girls) by Kraftklub
Kraftklub, a five-person band from Germany, creates songs that combine rock, indie and rap. They also work within a German music genre called Sprechgesang (spoken singing).
Be warned, this music video shows scenes of serious partying and a brief bit of rear, male nudity. It features the band playing shows and preparing for the shows by partying it up, similar to how you’d assume most stereotypical rock bands behave while getting amped for their gigs.
This song is pretty great for German learning because it has fast-moving lyrics that require you to fine-tune your listening. It’s also from a completely German band that met in school and became fairly popular over the years, giving you a taste of a certain style of music younger people are used to listening to in Germany.
As with many bands like this, the lyrics are about the life of a rock star, talking about how they aren’t like other guys and how they talk with their fans. They even make some jabs at how Swedish bands copy their style of music.
“Nagorny Karabach” by Einstürzende Neubauten
“Nagorny Karabach,” named after the landlocked region just south of Russia, offers a slower tune for those whose ears are bleeding from Kraftklub. The band is from West Berlin, and their trademark is using custom-made instruments, resulting in a melodic, often somber genre called “industrial.”
The “Nagorny Karabach” music video provides English subtitles, assisting with your translation process. It also shows the frontman singing towards the camera, with the rest of the band performing on a screen in the background. Although it doesn’t focus on German settings, you learn a bit about the Nagorny Karabakh landscape, since the lyrics touch on how being near the mountains and valleys of Nagorny Karabakh is like floating in heaven.
“Klar” (Clear) by Jan Delay
The Jan Delay music video for the song “Klar” is for those out there who enjoy some funky reggae, hip hop and dub. The majority of the song is mainly Jan Delay bragging about how much he rocks, but you get some interesting wordplay for your German learning. For example, one of the verses says:
…die Zeit war reif (aha), für neue Styles
(und ihr seid)
hin und weg wie Berlin und Bonn
The time was ripe for new styles
here and there like Berlin and Bonn.
“Ein neuer Tag” (A New Day) by Juli
Eva Briegel leads vocals for the band Juli, which is considered a German alternative pop band. The “Ein neuer Tag” music video is played along with the upbeat track and reveals the essence of how a concert might be if you went to one in Germany (with colorful lights and large crowds.)
The video doesn’t have English subtitles, but the words are fairly simple, as it provides a story of fighting through troubles and triumphing when times are tough.
Here’s an example of what you can expect:
Ein neuer Tag (A new day)
Ein neuer Plan (A new plan)
Ein neues Ziel (A new game)
Ich fange an (I’m starting)
The repetition of vocabulary is particularly helpful for committing words to memory.
“Sonnendeck” (Sundeck) by PeterLicht
If you enjoy electropop and music videos that make you smile, the “Sonnendeck” music video is a solid choice for you. The relaxing video has a stop motion story of an office chair moving throughout the city and seemingly trying to find its place in the world.
The lyrics are great for beginners, as you can see from this example:
Und wenn ich nicht hier bin, bin ich auf’m Sonnendeck. (And if I’m not here, I’ll be on the sun deck.)
“Durch Den Monsun” (Through the Monsoon) by Tokio Hotel
If you’re into German music—or music at all—you’ve likely heard of Tokio Hotel. The German alternative rock band has sold millions of albums all over the world, and “Durch Den Monsun” actually happens to be one of my favorite music videos. As with many alternative rock songs, it’s a story of struggle and fighting through pain. The female vocals cover plenty of intermediate level lines for you to practice with. Not to mention, you get a taste of the German alternative rock dress code in the video.
Here’s an example of lyrics to practice with:
Ein halber Mond versinkt vor mir (A half moon sinks in front of me)
War der eben noch bei dir? (Was it by your side just now?)
Und hält er wirklich was er mir verspricht? (And will it really keep the promise it made me?)
“Schwule Maedchen” (Gay Girls) by Fettes Brot
The “Schwule Maedchen” music video has a few swear words in there, but it’s a fun pump up song if you’re preparing for a sporting event or going out with some friends. It’s consider a hip hop song, and the video gives you an idea of how a more grungy German club might feel.
Warning: These lyrics move fast, so it’s best for advanced learners. That said, they do repeat the same lines quite a bit, so it shouldn’t be too bad. It’s also cool because they reference some locations in Germany.
Here’s a taste:
Wenn drei schwule Madchen (If three gay girls)
Durch Hamburg geh’n (Walk through Hamburg)
Dann bleiben die Leute einen Augenblick lang ruhig steh’n (The people will stop for a moment)
Sie seh’n uns an (They stare at us)
Warten was passiert (Wait what’s happening)
Bis sie wissen es ist Zeit , dass wir zusammen durchdreh’n (Until they know it’s time for us to get crazy together)
“Haus am See” (House by the Lake) by Peter Fox
Presenting some of the most popular reggae and hip hop from Berlin, Peter Fox is always a pleasure to listen to and watch. Shots of the German landscape can be seen in this video, and some laid back instrumentals combine with lyrics that illustrate a house by a lake and describe how he knows everyone in town:
Und am Ende der Straße steht ein Haus am See. (And at the end of the street there is a house at the lake)
Orangenbaumblätter liegen auf dem Weg. (Orange tree leaves lie on the street)
Ich hab 20 Kinder; meine Frau ist schön. (I have 20 kids, my wife is beautiful)
Alle kommen vorbei, ich brauch’ nie rauszugehen. (Everyone walks by and I never need to go outside.)
Nena - “99 Luftballons” (99 Balloons)
The “99 Luftballons” song is popular in both Germany and around the world. If you’ve seen at least one German music video, this is probably it. The video gives a taste of German styles in the 80s, and the lyrics are nice and simple for learning some new words in style.
99 Luftballons (Ninety-nine balloons)
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont (On their way to the horizon)
Hielt man für UFOs aus dem All (One could take them for UFOs from space)
And there you have it!
Rocking out with these German music videos is one of the best ways to hone your German until you reach fluency—and to maintain and polish fluent German. After all, you’re bound to stumble upon these songs when going to German clubs, bars or even if someone’s playing their music a little too loud on the train.
Now that you’ve had a chance to see some German music video favorites, be sure to save these on your playlist, right between Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.”
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.