Jun 112021
german cover songs

We’re not generally in the practice of publishing reader mail at Cover Me (doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate getting it!). There’s no Letters to the Editor page like you’d see in an old magazine. The comments section and social media serve that function well enough. But today, we’re making an exception.

Last summer, a German reader named Karsten Schroeder wrote in offering to share some cool covers he liked by German bands. We said sure – we’re always looking to discover new stuff, after all. We didn’t hear much after that and, to be honest, forgot about it. Then, a full ten months later, he emailed an exhaustive look at the covers scene in Germany. Across 123 songs, Karsten explored covers spanning punk – his favorite genre – to hip-hop, folk to pop to a few genres that are Germany-specific (“Fun-Punk,” “Deutschrock”). It was so rich and detailed, full of amazing covers that we – and, I expect, you – had never heard before that we asked him if we could publish it.

So presented below, only lightly edited, is Karsten’s 123-song overview of the history of German covers. A few artists you might recognize – Einstürzende Neubauten, Marlene Dietrich, Falco. The vast majority you will not. So read straight through or click around as something grabs you. We’re sure you’ll discover something great, just as we did!

Over to Karsten Schroeder…

Across the Border – The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel cover)

Having seen them once as a supporting act for my beloved Oysterband, I liked them a lot, bought a record and never heard of them again. German fiddle punk at its best. A real nice take of the theme, which is in fact a folk song. Folk and a fiddle – what could go wrong?

Götz Alsmann & The Sentimental Pounders – People Are People (Depeche Mode cover)

He studied music, is a gifted piano player and an entertainer with shows on TV and radio. And oh so retro… Götz Alsmann & The Sentimental Pounders does a wide span, from early 80‘s synth-pop (of the harder style) to jazz-swing. Please note that the footage is rather old; Götz is now far beyond his 50th…

Wolfgang Ambros – Allan Wia Stan [Like a Rolling Stone] (Bob Dylan cover)

His Bobness translated into Austrian slang – can anyone in the US judge if it is a fair cover? But the guy, sarcastically looking at someone else, will work in any language.

And One – Movie Star (Harpo cover)

Quite a dangerous track – to stress a German expression: this surely will create an “earworm.” The original has been kinda MOR, now it is synthpop. But one more proof that a catchy melody, a nice hookline will work in many styles.

Die Ärzte – Stick It Out/What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body (Frank Zappa cover)

Being on stage for some thirty years now, Die Ärzte (The Doctors) are one of the most popular German punk bands. Really gifted musicians – and very funny. And oh so powerful on stage! I never really got a hold on Zappa, but these guys turn it into a ska stomper!

Atrocity – Shout (Tears for Fears cover)

Welcome to the world of metal! Google states them to be part of death metal scene, but one should rather state this to be melodic core… with female voices!

BAP feat. Nina Hagen – Weihnachtsnaach [Fairytale of New York] (The Pogues cover)

Probably the most beautiful Christmas tune ever. BAP, a Cologne rock band since the late 70s, sings in the local dialect “Kölsch” – quite difficult to understand for the rest of the country’s inhabitants. Nina Hagen, Germany’s Lene Lovich joins them.

The Baseballs – Umbrella (Rihanna cover)

All kinds of youth subculture remains popular in Germany. Everything that has vanished everywhere can be found here. Waiting for the next revival: Rockabilly. This Berlin band somehow proves Bill Clinton’s quote “It’s the song, stupid!” (or did Clinton say something more connected to economy?!). The melody works, there is just some more speed and power.

Lisa Bassenge – In Between Days (The Cure cover)

French name aside, Lisa Bassenge is a jazz singer of Berlin origin. Yes, Jazz. If actually any music style is able to capture the melodies of others’ styles, it is jazz. This tune is slowed down in a very nice and catchy way.

The Bates – Hello (Turn Your Radio On) (Shakespears Sister cover)

The kings of punk cover in Germany! And also the kings of German pop-punk, I suppose. Quite a force on stage with a huge fan base. Sadly, singer Zimbl died due to alcohol abse quite a while ago. They were always keen for a good melody, even such unlikely tunes like “Beautiful Noise” or “Billie Jean” – real fun!

Continued on the next page…

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  2 Responses to “An Exhaustive History of German Cover Songs”

Comments (2)
  1. Looking forward to listening. By the way, the blog Any Major Dude With Half a Heart posted two lists of Schlager covers, at http://halfhearteddude.com/2017/10/any-major-schlager-covers-vol-1/ and http://halfhearteddude.com/2020/03/any-major-schlager-covers-vol-2/. The password is amdwhah. As always, thanks for all your hard work.

    • Dear Joe,
      that looks stunning – but all the links mentioned there (as well as two others, as well looking nice (Curious German and Stars sing German) are down…
      Is there any possibility of getting them elsewhere?
      Greetz, Karsten

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