Category Archives: German

Wir sind Helden

wir-sind-helden-2010-07-02Wir sind Helden (We are Heroes) is a pop/rock band from Berlin. Lead by singer Judith Holofernes, and musicians Pola Roy, Mark Tavassol, and Jean-Michel Tourette, the group was formed in 2000. The band broke out onto the German music scene with their first single, “Guten Tag”, which got significant airplay on MTV Europe. Their first album, Die Reklamation peaked #2 on the German charts. laut.de gave it five out of five points calling it “the perfect soundtrack for an urban summer”.

The band’s second album, Von Hier An Blind (2005), enjoyed the most success, peaking number 1 in Germany and Austria, and being certified platinum x2 in Germany. The album was so popular that they rerecorded several of it’s songs in English, French, and Japanese. he entire artwork (cover, booklet, etc.) for the album as well as for the singles was designed by Berlin illustrator Vanessa Karr. It was modeled after parts from the comic book Tintin in Tibet (1960) by Belgian artist Hergé who died in 1983. Notably, the video for the album’s title single “Von hier an blind” is in the same style. The album was also released in a Limited Edition, which included an additional DVD with a documentary, interviews with the band members about each of the album’s songs, and a game where one can switch the band’s instruments on a performance of “Nur ein Wort”.

Two more albums followed, Soundso (2007and Bring mich nach Hause (2010), charting at #2 and #1 respectively on German charts. The band announced in April this year that they are going on an indefinite hiatus, saying reasons were the distance between band members’ home cities, the demands of their respective family lives, “signs of wear,” and the feeling of an “ever-more-impossible-seeming undertaking”

I’ve been listening to their discography all day, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. A lot of their songs remind me of older Euro-pop, almost in the ABBA tradition, so of course I adore it. The tunes are catchy and fun. Learning of the bands hiatus makes me sad that I will not be able to enjoy new Wir sind Helden! C’est la vie!

Check out their website: Wir sind Helden

 

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Roman Lob

Roman Lob is a German singer/songwriter from Düsseldorf. I first saw him in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, where he represented Germany, and I knew I had to find his album. Apart from this solo career, Lob is the lead singer of the band Rooftop Kingdom, an alternative-rock band from Neuwied (which I haven’t found any info on yet!), and also a founding member of the metal-core band Days of Despite. In 2006, Lob had competed in German casting show Deutschland sucht den Superstar but had to quit due to a vocal cord infection. In 2008, he took part in the competition to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, as a part of the boy band G12P – Germany 12 Points, but their song “When The Boys Come” was not chosen to compete in the national final. But this year Lob represented Germany solo, and achieved 8th place in the finals with 110 points.

Changesis Lob’s debut album, released in April this year, after being selected to represent Germany for this year’s Eurovision in Baku, Azerbaijan. It peaked at number 9 in Germany, and as far as I know has only been released in German-speaking Germany, which is just a shame. I absolutely love the album myself. The lead single, “Standing Still”, from this year’s Eurovision is wonderful. As soon as I saw his performance I began a frantic search for his album! I love his voice, it’s just so mellow and beautiful. The album is a light sort of pop/rock and is really just a great listen. It has a vibe that I haven’t heard in a while. I foresee this album being played over and over in my car. I have to say that Germany has given me some great artists including Roman Lob and Lena recently, particularly from Eurovision. Good job Germany!

Check out his website: Roman Lob and more unplugged action:

 

 


Nneka

 Nneka is a Nigerian-German hip-hop/soul singer. She was born and raised in Nigeria, but went to Germany at 18 to pursue her career in singing (along with a degree in Anthropology!) Nneka has worked closely with German beat-maker DJ Farhot. She first gained attention as an opening act for Sean Paul at Hamburg Stadtpark, and shortly after began working on her debut album. She finished recording the album in the autumn of 2005: Victim of Truth. It was released not only in Germany but also in England, France, Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan. The album earned rave reviews from the media, the UK’s Sunday Times later declared it “the year’s most criminally overlooked album”, comparing it favourably to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (one of the greatest albums of all time! I was listening to it earlier tonight!).

Her second album, No Longer at Ease, was released in 2008. Most of the songs are political, talking about the plight of the Niger Delta and the corruption Nigeria. The lead single from it, ‘Heartbeat’, became her first song to break into the German Top 50. In September 2009, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number twenty. In November 2009, Nneka staged her first concert tour of the United States where she performed shows in New York City, Vienna (Washington DC), Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Furthermore she was a special guest on The Roots Jam session. Her first US release Concrete Jungle was set for 2 February 2010.

Soul is Heavy is the third album by singer Nneka. It was released on 18 March 2012 in the U.K. In a recent interview Nneka stated that the album is “a bit more of a “band” sound this time around, a mix of digital and organic music. Still very me, though. It deals with issues that have to do with the day-to-day life of people: corruption, false prophecies, religion, war conflict…” The album is definitely of a somewhat different style from her previous two, but it is amazing, and still so very Nneka. I love her voice. I think it’s very raw and emotional. You can hear for sure the African roots in her beats and I think it gives a sort of “earthy” quality to her songs. If nothing else, Nneka’s music is incredibly powerful. 

 

 


Lena – Good News

You may remember an earlier post featuring Lena and her debut album My Cassette Player, which had the A-mazing hit from last year’s Eurovison: “Satellite”. Well, already Lena has given us a follow up album: Good News. Lena represented Germany again this year in the Eurovision, in an attempt to defend her title. This album features many songs that were sent to Lena from different songwriters for her entry to this year’s contest. The album peaked at number 1 in Germany and was certified platinum.

The album combines all the songs performed by Lena in the national final for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, Unser Song für Deutschland (Our song for Germany). Apparently she was sent over 600 songs as possible entries! The album’s first single, “Taken By a Stranger” was chosen to be Lena’s entry to this year’s Eurovision. The album is very cute and fun to listen to! My friend Monique described it and the debut album both as great albums for a sunny day and a nice drive. =)  I still love Lena’s voice and the soulful vibe of the album.

The song “Taken By A Stranger” is super sexy and the performance at Eurovision was great! It also has a good video to go with it! Listening to the album as I write this, I can’t help but smile at songs like “Good News”, “What Happened to Me”, and “Mama Told Me” – the latter two written by Lena herself. “A Good Day” is just the happiest, funnest little song ever! I love it! I really love then entire album, I could say every song was my favourite! I definitely see myself listening to this album a lot in the near future. Good News is a great sophomore album and I really hope to hear a lot more from Lena!

Here is a Youtube channel with most of the album: Good News


Flying Steps

I am still completely blown away by my first Eurovision experience; not only were the competing songs amazing, but so were many of the acts used to fill the time while the votes were being counted. Flying Steps filled that space during the second semi-finals and it was something completely different. They were formed in 1993 by Kadir Memis and Vartan Bassal, and the group has 9 members. They have taken first place in at least 10 major break dancing competitions between 1994 and 2008. They are widely considered one of the most successful urban dance groups in the world.

Their performance during this year’s Eurovision was nothing shy of fantastic. Their choreography was to all classical music, starting with one of my absolute favourite preludes from Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, Buch I: the prelude in C minor – accompanied by solo harpsichord. They continued to dance to some incredible remixes of Bach, including excerpts from the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  I love classical music, and it has been such a huge part of my life, but one thing I hate about being in classical music academia is the narrow mindedness. I have always thought that classical music lends itself so well to modern expression that I think one of my all time favourite genres or styles of music is what I call “classical-fusion” – a perfect example being this remixed Bach (many more artists of this genre will surely be posted soon!).

Flying Steps‘ website.


LaFee

Christina Klein is better known by her stage name: LaFee. She is a German singer/songwriter who is pretty big in German-speaking countries. She has released 4 albums to date, three in German and one English album in 2008. In 2009 her fourth studio album, Ring Frei was released in Germany, peaking at #6 on the German charts, and #5 on the Austrian. It’s a great album for sure. The first couple of tracks have music that sounds like dark German heavy-rock/symphonic metal, and it’s supa-awesome. Something about it is so Germanic! I love the percussion throughout the album and the guitars are also amazing. The title track and single, Ring Frei is probably my favourite track on the album. Angst is a softer symphonic ballade kind of song.

The whole album has some really great instrumentation. Tracks like Nur Das Eine have wonderful piano parts and others like Angst have great string parts all mixed with a heavy rock percussion and guitars. This is another album I constantly finding myself totally rocking out to in the car. I don’t even know how to begin to explain the music so watch some videos and listen!

And of course you can check out her website: LaFee aber es ist auf Deutsch!


Lena

The Eurovision Song Contest is a contest held by active members of the European Broadcasting Union. Each year every country submits an entry for the best song, which is performed live through several rounds. The winning country then hosts the contest the following year. Eurovision started in 1956 to try to boost the morale of a war-torn Europe and bring a sense of togetherness. I knew ABBA had been skyrocketed to fame with their win in 1974 for “Waterloo” but I didn’t realize this amazing programme was still taking place! Germany was this year’s winner and it’s not hard to see why:

Lena Meyer-Landrut – known as “Lena” had a knock-out hit with her entry Satellite. I actually got a hold all entries this year (an amazing collection of Europop!) and while I was a big fan of many of the songs, there is no doubt that Satellite blew the competition out of the water. Catchy, cute, bubbly doesn’t even begin to describe it. I played it for my friends and we still find ourselves belting it out at any given moment. The video is not as exciting as other entries (soon to come!) but it’s worth a watch to see the adorable German pop star:

Shortly after her Eurovision success Lena released her first studio album: My Cassette Player. This is a really great album, peaking at number 1 on the German and Austrian charts, and #5 on the European top 100. There is a certain organic quality to it where you can tell she wrote her own songs (at least most of them), and I think her cover of Jason Mraz’ Mr. Curiosity is incredible. Every song is catchy but intelligent and the entire album is actually in English – which seems surprisingly common amongst European artists – although there is something very German about it. I really hope there is more to come from Lena in the future and I highly recommend this album to all!


Peter Fox

This semester I had to take German for my music theory major, and Germany has always been a country I’ve known to have good music, but I hadn’t taken the time to hunt any down. But taking German finally pushed me into full drive, and I’m glad it did. One of many, many amazing artists I found was Peter Fox. He is a member of the German reggae/dancehall band Seeed, but his solo album is what caught me. Fox started working on his solo project “Stadtaffe” in 2007, and the album was released in Germany in September 2008. Stadtaffe was co-produced with Monk and DJ Illvibe, and peaked #1 on the charts in Germany and Austria.

The flow of his lyrics are catchy and the beats are great, but one thing I really liked about the album was its use of string orchestra, and in fact the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg from Postdam is featured on much of the album. The opening track, and one of my personal favourites, Alles Neu is driven all the way through by an ostinato by the string orchestra, and they are very present in the second track, Schwarz zu Blau. The video for Alles Neu is fun, featuring a symphony of monkey men, and features the Cold Steel Drumline. It’s pretty epic:

Several of the songs, like Schwarz zu Blau, are about the city of Berlin, it’s seedy underground and political problems, and the hard style is beautifully juxtapose with the down-tempo and lyrical track, Ich Steine, du Steine – a sad song about a relationship that is no good for either party but the man realizes he can’t live without her. This track also has gorgeous, lyrical string accompaniment. The album is also filled with sex, shameless boasting and a general hardcore bad-ass attitude – what more fun could you ask for? A DVD of his tour for the album, Live in Berlin, was released in December 2009 which I can’t wait to get. Check out more Peter Fox!