Even though German art and cinema have undoubtedly made a name for themselves, people don’t tend to duly attribute musical acts to their German roots. This is likely accidental since many of these artists conduct their work entirely in English, often without a trace of an accent. But it’s always good to stock up on musical trivia facts, so here are eight bands you didn’t know came from Germany.
Milky Chance burst onto the international music scene a mere three years ago when the duo released the single ‘Stolen Dance,’ which rose to number one on the charts in multiple European countries. Hailing from Kassel, Germany, Milky Chance has since reached global acclaim. They’ve been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and they played at the famed House of Blues as well as Coachella. In their smooth, folky tracks, vocalist Clemens Rehbein doesn’t even have a hint of a German accent. Yet, the dreamy DJ stylings of Philipp Dausch definitely do capture a hint of Berlin’s nightlife magic.
With hugely popular songs like ‘Every Time We Touch,’ ‘What Hurts the Most,’ and ‘Evacuate the Dancefloor,’ this upbeat, peppy musical trio is probably more likely to launch you into flashbacks of school dances than to conjure thoughts of Deutschland, but indeed, the group is regarded as the most successful German act of the 2000s. While the name ‘cascada’ itself is the Spanish word for waterfall, the group consists of lead singer Natalie Horler and DJs Manian and Yanou who are from Bonn. Over the past year, the group has been touring throughout Europe, and this summer, they released the song ‘Praise You’ in collaboration with Brazilian producer Cassiano.
Okay, so we admit you probably could tell by their name that Rammstein is clearly very German, but just in case anyone forgot about this heavy metal band that rose to worldwide prominence in the ’90s, here’s a quick little reminder. Made up of six members, Rammstein claims its origins in Berlin, which makes sense considering the city’s notoriously edgy countercultural scene. Plus, we must admit that the rather robust and guttural sounds of the German language work quite well within the heavy metal and industrial genre. With this being said, Rammstein also has songs with English, Spanish, Russian, and French lyrics, which likely helped them expand their reach and popularity.
Mouse on Mars is a big name within the genres of electronic, experimental, and ambient music. The duo emerged in the early ’90s, and low and behold, members Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma come from Cologne and Dusseldorf, respectively. The dismantling of conventional patterns found in electronic music is a major element that characterizes their work. After almost two decades of making music, Mouse on Mars has a total of ten albums to their name, the newest of which was released in 2012. Interestingly enough, Toma and Werner are childhood friends that were born in the same hospital on the same day.
We don’t typically associate the soulful musical styling of R&B with south Germany, but Milli Vanilli has certainly made its mark on the genre. Originally from Munich, the duo consisting of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus rose to begin making music in 1988, and in 1990, they earned a Grammy for Best New Artist. Their work is also classified within the genres of hip-hop, funk, and new jack swing. Subject to some backlash over a lip-syncing controversy from the start, which ultimately resulted in them losing their Grammy Award, there is still no denying that as a group, Milli Vanilli has still performed some pretty groovy tracks even if they received vocal assistance.
Taking a trip way back in time to the ’60s, Tangerine Dream was a musical pioneer within the realms of electronic, new age, and progressive rock music. The group has its origins in West Berlin, where these genres had an important social, political, and countercultural meaning. Then-musician and art student Edgar Froese is responsible for forming the band by gathering promising musicians he met in Berlin’s underground scene. At their start, the group was known for their distinct performing style. They often remained virtually motionless for the majority of the concert and sometimes played in complete darkness. Occasionally permitted to play in East Berlin, Tangerine Dream was quite popular there as well. The group was once invited to play for Salvador Dalí, too.
Nicknamed in Rolling Stone magazine as ‘the heroes of hard rock,’ The Scorpions are regarded as one of the greatest musical acts within this genre. The Scorpions reached peak popularity during the late 1970s and early ’80s, and the group has released a whopping 18 studio albums. What’s more, The Scorpions have played 5,000 concerts in over 80 countries since they started. While the band has consisted of several different members at various times throughout their active years, it cites Hanover, Germany as its origin.
This fun and funky German-Norwegian indie pop group is based in Berlin, Germany. The group began creating music in 2003 and released their latest album in 2009. In 2014, the band publicly stated that they were no longer going to create music as The Whitest Boy Alive. Over the short course of their existence, however, the band has experienced significant changes in their sound and style. In the beginning, they are primarily an electronic group, but in more recent times, they have ditched all programmed elements for a more natural indie sound.