When you think of influential international musical artists, your mind probably drifts to the US, UK or maybe even Puerto Rico, Spain and Colombia. Germany is probably not very high on many people’s lists.
However, although they are much better known for classical music than for popular music, the Germans have actually made a greater contribution to the modern music industry than you might think, especially when it comes to Germany’s beloved dance music and techno. Here are nine truly talented German musicians who rose to prominence abroad with these international hits.
1. 99 Luftballoons -NENA
This ultimate German classic, written by German band NENA, is often one of the first songs people list when asked about German music. The hit, which was also translated into English and re-recorded as 99 red balloonsgained worldwide fame for its catchy lyrics and Neue Deutsche Welle (German New Wave). Nena, the band’s lead singer, has re-released many of their songs as a solo artist and over the years has sold over 25 million records, making her the most successful pop singer in history. German charts.
Video: YouTube / NENA
2. Every time we touch – Waterfall
In 2005, Cascada conquered the world with Every time we touch an energetic dance tune that still promises to get everyone on their feet! In 2010, the group became the second most downloaded dance artist in the world, just behind dance legend David Guetta. Cascada released later Evacuate the danceflooran international success, and went on to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö in 2013.
Video: YouTube / WATERFALL
3. Trans Europe Express – Kraftwork
Legends of German culture and dance music, Kraftwerk first came into the public eye in the early 1970s and paved the way for modern-day electronic music artists. Whereas Trans Europe Express is often considered one of the band’s most successful songs, the band had a number of international hits such as The model, computer love, highway and Tour de France.
4. Major Tom (Coming Home) -Peter Schilling
Unofficially based on Major Tom, the protagonist of David Bowie’s 1969 song Spatial oddityit was Peter Schilling’s most successful song internationally. Major Tom topped the chart in Germany, Austria and Switzerland when first released in 1983. The song was re-released in English a few months after its first release in Germany and charted at number one in Canada, number four in South Africa South and number two on the American dance chart.
Video: YouTube / Peter Schilling
5. Du Hast -Rammstein
Rock legends Rammstein certainly deserve to be included in this list. With a number of internationally successful songs, Rammstein is one of the most successful German bands to make waves abroad. Du Hast was the second song from the band’s second album and featured in a number of movies and video games released in the years after the song was released in 1997. For those learning German, you’ll notice the title of the song is a pun. “some hasst“(you hate) and”hast” (you have).
Video: YouTube / Rammstein Official
6. Satellite – Lena
Lena also has a Eurovision connection, winning the song contest for Germany in 2010 with this number. Lena, also known by her full name Lena Meyer-Landrut, was born and raised in Lower Saxony and often receives praise online for her success despite a relatively ordinary background as a native of Hannover, with no formal singing training. His song Satellite achieved over 100,000 downloads in its first week, becoming Germany’s best-selling digital release.
Video: YouTube / Eurovision Song Contest
seven. wind of change -Scorpios
This Scorpions rock ballad is widely associated with the fall of the wall in Berlin, but it wasn’t released until January 1991, more than a year later, just after the failed coup that ultimately led to the fall of the Soviet Union. Eventually becoming an anthem for the end of the Cold War, wind of change is now one of the best-selling singles of all time, with its feelings of hope and peace making it relevant time and time again in new waves of political upheaval. In 2022, lead singer Klaus Meine said he had changed the lyrics to no longer “romanticize Russia” following the invasion of Ukraine.
Video: YouTube / Scorpions
8. Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega
After spending some time in Miami in his late teens, Munich-born David Lubega – better known by his stage name Lou Bega – developed a taste for mambo, and in 1999 released his megahit Mambo No. 5, a cover of a 1949 Cuban jazz dance song by Dámaso Pérez Prado. Bega’s song became the hit of the summer, topping charts across Europe and beyond, and earning him a Grammy nomination. Unfortunately, it was a hit he couldn’t repeat with any of his later tracks.
Video: YouTube / Lou Bega Official
9. forever Young -Alphaville
Although it was only moderately successful when it was first released in 1984, forever Young became one of the German synth-pop band’s most enduring songs, still appearing on playlists around the world today. The Alphaville classic has been covered many times over the years, including by Australian band Youth group for the hit American show COby British singer Becky Hill, and sampled on Jay-Z’s song Forever Young.
Video: YouTube / RHINO
Other German Music Honorable Mentions
Other honorable mentions go to German-Russian dance music king Zedd, as well as rock band Tokio Hotel, both of whom have enjoyed huge successes over the course of their careers. Check out the official German music charts for some of this week’s hottest German hits.