Mid-20s Malaise

Struggling against the inevitable since 1986!

Foreign Language Music Week: German

I have a confession to make.


They are indefensibly terrible. Nevertheless, I make no apologies for liking them, I just vow not to try to convince people of their excellent. I first discovered Tokio Hotel when working for a picture agency. One of our American contributors sent us pictures of the band of German teenagers doing an instore appearance in America. “That guy has crazy hair,” I though as I looked at singer Bill Kaulitz.

Readers, I was right. Kaulitz not only has crazy hair; he has CRAZY EVERYTHING. Check out this insanity.

When performing this song live, Kaulitz wears some kind of arachnoid exoskeleton covered in flashing lights. AMAZING. I tried to get over to Helsinki to see them on their Welcome to Humanoid City tour when I was living in London, but it wasn’t to be.

This is an acoustic version of my favourite Tokio Hotel song, Reden. When I first heard it, I thought Reden was a name. And a nice name at that. “Maybe I could name my hypothetical daughter Reden,” I though. It turns out “reden” means “talking”. Oops.

If you don’t like this, there’s nothing for you here, and we’ll move along.

I discovered Wir Sind Helden (“we are heroes”) when my friend Freya returned from a couple of years of living in Germany. I think they’re frigging excellent, and they’ve become one of my favourite bands. This is my favourite song: Nur Ein Wort (“Just One Word“) a catchy but melancholic pop song. If there’s a music video trope more hackneyed than ripping off Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, I’m yet to encounter it, but I think Wir Sind Helden do it quite well, what with the perfectly timed backwards momentum and such.

While we’re on the topic of videos-that-have-been-done-before, check out the one for Endlich Ein Grund Zur Panik (“Finally A Reason To Panic“). It’s cute and cheeky, and it’s a fantastic single.

I listened to Wir Sind Helden for ages before I bothered to track down some tranlations. Judith Holofernes is a great emoter: she imbues songs with feelings and meanings which, when I looked up the lyrics, had given me a pretty accurate insight to the song. My favourite song is Ein Elefant Für Dich (“An Elephant For You“), which has a lovely, tumbling melody. It also has a silly-sounding title. I assumed Judith was singing to her child, saying she would buy them an elephant or any of those other ridiculous things children seem to want. It’s actually even sweeter, a very lovely sentiment: “I will carry you/Climb on/Hold on fast/I’m becoming enormous for you/An elephant for you/I will carry you for miles.”


If you like Wir Sind Helden (which many of you will, what with my friends and I sharing a fondness for sweet-natured, lady-fronted, indie-pop bands) you might like Juli too.

Then we go underground. My Dutch friend Koes – who collects My Little Ponies and is covered in tattoos of skulls – introduced me to Pzychobitch, a pretty excellent electro-industrial outfit. I really like electro-industrial and its various related genres, but Pzychobitch are the only German band in that field I listen to. Which is a little odd, considering Germany is the spiritual fatherland of industrial music. They have some pretty harsh club-oriented material, but their album Electrolicious is pretty sleek, a grimy pop effort. My favourite track is still the first of theirs I heard, Maschinerie (I won’t translate that one for you).

Some of their songs are in English, but, umm, it’s pretty bad English: “It seemed like it will be/A never-ending time/Got me not pleased a lot/But made me fiercely cry” (from Cold Comfort). With such muddling of tenses, it might as well be in German.

Tomorrow: French!


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3 Responses

  1. joshua william says:

    What, no mention of Rammstein? They were my first major musical love when I was 14/15… there’d be some interesting lyrical translations for your readers there! :P

  2. […] to a crippling hangover and a pleasant German surprise. Wir Sind Helden – who I blogged about the other day – had emerged from hiatus with a new album, Bring Mich Nach Hause (Bring Me Back Home). I had […]

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