Back to English: With German! 4 German songs by English/American artists

So, after long deliberation and endless discussions with the holy league of music bloggers (which is totally made up) I decided to turn this blog back to English again because I do have a German platform at work and feel that I could profit from turning back to my favourite language (it was a close call between English and old Greek but hey, considering the situation with Greece right now, I had to go with the right aka capitalistic decision).

Anyways, to start things off, I thought, I would assemble a number of English artists who have tried out the most beautiful language (German) of all times in their music, you know, just to mess with your heads and my head so that after this post no one really knows what the hell is going on. And because I am just a humble person mildly interested in music, there might be a lot of other (great) songs I’ve missed, so feel free to put them in the comment section.

Peter Gabriel – Spiel ohne Grenzen

Peter is the master of turning English songs into German, he has translated numerous of his albums and recorded them in German and because Mr. Gabriel is one of those great musicians who are perfectionists and only demand the best of themselves, he got a proper writer to translate the lyrics and he also put a little more effort into the pronounciation than a couple of other artists. On his second German album, he even rearranged the music to fit the rhythm of the language. Epic.

I have to say, usually, the original version of any prose is better, because whether consciously or not, the writer choses words for their sound and their feel on the tongue as well which tends to get lost in translation (especially with the sometimes clunky German language).

But on some of Gabriels “German albums” there are pure diamonds where the German versions add to the somewhat sinister feel of his more serious songs, like “Games without frontiers”.

Peter Broderick – Bad Words

Peter Broderick is one of the Gabriel league, someone who always tries new things and constantly works with other musicians, on projects and with unusual methods. His new album is a visual internet piece which is kind of crazy but also quite beautiful. And in the midst of Istartshear there is a little bitty that is actually German which I recognized way too late into the song which I solely blame on me not expecting it because Peter’s pronounciation is A-Ok. I wonder, whether he would be able to pronounce my name properly (Guiliana? – No, it’s Juliane – Ah, I get it, Julienna – facepalm).

The great thing about this song is its back story. A German friend discussed with him how music and the lyrics are always too sweet (apparently, she doesn’t listen to Metal, Rock’n Roll and Postcore…), so he made her this song which was full of profanities. He thought of including it on the album but felt a little hesitant to send it to the record label, so he wrote a song about that song. It’s Tenacious D’s “tribute” in another dimension, it’s so meta that we could write a paper about it. It’s fantastic.

We are Scientists – Sie hat was vermisst (Bela B. Cover)

Songs like this are the reason why it’s not too popular for international artists to try out German in contrast to French or Spanish. If you are not fluent and preferably mothertongue, it sounds so brutal and creepy as if Norman Bates’ soul was imprinted into a dictionary. However, We are Scientists (haha, just wrote Scientits…) do a pretty good job concerning the pronounciation. Still, this song is kind of a country tune about the end of a relationship and how the protagonist has to deal with the loneliness. And still, one can’t help but think that it’s more about him planing to get her back – alive or dead (probably dead and half-eaten, after all, he is from Germany and we love to eat people, don’t we).

Faith no More – Das Schützenfest

So, this brilliant song by Faith no More is pretty much the definition of American use of German. Whenever Hollywood can’t find a German dude or gal to play the part, they poorly translate the lines and let the most heinous actor guess how it might sound without really having any clue. If Hollywood does it, it’s funny and only a little bit upsetting, if Faith no More do it, it’s the most awesome thing ever and just absurdly genius (which sums up everything Mike Patton ever does).


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