Learn the Translation of Rammstein's Top Hits

A German Band Surrounded by Controversy

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Flippo, Hyde. "Learn the Translation of Rammstein's Top Hits." ThoughtCo, Mar. 14, 2017, thoughtco.com/rammsteins-top-hits-4076946. Flippo, Hyde. (2017, March 14). Learn the Translation of Rammstein's Top Hits. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rammsteins-top-hits-4076946 Flippo, Hyde. "Learn the Translation of Rammstein's Top Hits." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rammsteins-top-hits-4076946 (accessed October 20, 2017).
Rammstein
(L to R) Rammstein members Paul H. Landers, Oliver 'Ollie' Riedel, Christoph 'Doom' Schneider, Till Lindemann, Christian 'Flake' Lorenz, and Richard Z. Kruspe. Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

Rammstein is a famous German band whose music is best described as dark, heavy rock. They are somewhat political and often take on social issues in their songs and that has led to controversy.

Whatever your take on Rammstein's political views, the band's lyrics are also a lesson in German. If you are studying the language, you might find these lyrics and the English translations to three of their most popular songs helpful.

An Introduction to Rammstein

Rammstein was formed in 1993 by six men who grew up in East Germany and were all born after the Berlin Wall went up. They took their name from the American Ramstein air base near Frankfurt (adding an extra m).

The band's members are Till Lindemann (b. 1964), Richard Z. Kruspe-Bernstein (b. 1967), Paul Lander (b. 1964), Oliver Riedel (b. 1971), Christoph Schneider (b. 1966), and Christian "Flake" Lorenz (b. 1966).

Rammstein is a unique German band in that it has managed to become popular in the English-speaking world by singing almost exclusively in German. Most other German artists or groups (think the Scorpions or Alphaville) have sung in English in order to reach the English-language market or they sing in German and remain virtually unknown in the Anglo-American world (think Herbert Grönemeyer).

Yet, Rammstein has somehow turned their German lyrics into an advantage.

It certainly can become an advantage for learning German.

Rammenstein Albums

  • "Herzeleid" (1995)
  • "Sehnsucht" (1997)
  • "Live aus Berlin" (1998, also a DVD)
  • "Mutter" (2001)
  • "Lichtspielhaus" (2003, DVD)
  • "Reise, Reise" (2004)

The Controversy That Surrounds Rammstein

Rammstein has also stirred up controversy on their road to fame.

 One of the most famous incidents occurred in 1998. It involved their use of clips from the work of the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in one of their music videos. The song, "Stripped," was a cover of a Depeche Mode song and the films used spurred protests against what some saw as a glorification of Nazism.

Even before that well-publicized incident, their lyrics and images had given rise to the criticism that the band has neo-Nazi or far-right tendencies. With German lyrics that are often far from politically correct, their music was even linked to the Columbine, Colorado school shooting in 1999.

Some British and American radio stations have refused to play Rammstein songs (even if they don't understand the German lyrics).

There is no real evidence that any of Rammstein's six eastern German musicians themselves hold such right-wing beliefs. Yet, some people are either a little naive or in denial when they claim that Rammstein has done nothing to lead people to suspect the band of fascist leanings.

The band itself has been a bit coy in their claims of "why would anyone accuse us of such things?" In light of some of their lyrics, they really should not pretend to be so innocent. The band members themselves have admitted they intentionally make their lyrics ambiguous and full of double entendre ("Zweideutigkeit").

However... I personally refuse to join those who totally reject artists for their supposed or actual political views. There are people who won't listen to Richard Wagner operas because he was antisemitic (which he was). For me, the talent evident in Wagner's music rises above other considerations. Just because I condemn his antisemitism doesn't mean I can't appreciate his music.

The same goes for Leni Riefenstahl. Her former Nazi connections are undeniable, but so is her cinematic and photographic talent. If we choose or reject music, cinema, or any art form only for political reasons, then we are missing the point of art.

But if you're going to listen to Rammstein's lyrics and their meaning, don't be naive about it. Yes, you can learn German through their lyrics, simply be aware that those lyrics may have offensive overtones of a political, religious, sexual, or social nature that people have a right to object to.

Keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable with lyrics about sadistic sex or the use of the f-word - even if it's in German.

If Rammstein's lyrics make people think about issues from fascism to misogyny, then that's for the good. If listeners also learn some German in the process, so much the better.

"Amerika" Lyrics

Album: “Reise, Reise” (2004)

"Amerika" is a perfect example of Rammstein's controversial style and it is also one of their best-known songs worldwide. The lyrics include both German and English and it includes countless references about how America reigns over world culture and politics—for good or bad.

As you can tell by the last verse (recorded in English, so no translation is needed), this song was not written with the intent of idolizing America. The music video is filled with clips of American influence throughout the world and the overall feel of the song is rather dark.

German LyricsDirect Translation by Hyde Flippo
Refrain:*
We're all living in America,
America is wunderbar.
We're all living in America,
Amerika, Amerika.
We're all living in America,
Coca-Cola, Wonderbra,
We're all living in America,
Amerika, Amerika.
Refrain:
We're all living in America,
America is wonderful.
We're all living in America,
America, America.
We're all living in America,
Coca-Cola, Wonderbra,
We're all living in America,
America, America.
* This refrain is used throughout the song, at times it is only the first four lines. In the last refrain, the sixth line is replaced with "Coca-Cola, sometimes WAR,".
  
Wenn getanzt wird, will ich führen,
auch wenn ihr euch alleine dreht,
lasst euch ein wenig kontrollieren,
Ich zeige euch wie's richtig geht.
Wir bilden einen lieben Reigen,
die Freiheit spielt auf allen Geigen,
Musik kommt aus dem Weißen Haus,
Und vor Paris steht Mickey Maus.
When I'm dancing, I want to lead,
even if you all are spinning alone,
let's exercise a little control.
I'll show you how it's done right.
We form a nice round (circle),
freedom is playing on all the fiddles,
music is coming out of the White House,
and near Paris stands Mickey Mouse.
  
Ich kenne Schritte, die sehr nützen,
und werde euch vor Fehltritt schützen,
und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss,
weiß noch nicht, dass er tanzen muss!
Wir bilden einen lieben Reigen,
ich werde Euch die Richtung zeigen,
nach Afrika kommt Santa Claus,
und vor Paris steht Mickey Maus.
I know steps that are very useful,
and I'll protect you from missteps,
and anyone who doesn't want to dance in the end,
just doesn't know that he has to dance!
We form a nice round (circle),
I'll show you the right direction,
to Africa goes Santa Claus,
and near Paris stands Mickey Mouse.
  
This is not a love song,
this is not a love song.
I don't sing my mother tongue,
No, this is not a love song.
 

"Spieluhr" (Music Box) Lyrics

Album: "Mutter " (2001)

The "Hoppe hoppe Reiter" phrase, repeated often in "Spieluhr" comes from a popular German nursery rhyme. The song tells the dark story about a child who pretends to be dead and is buried with a music box. It is the music box song that alerts people of the child's presence.

German LyricsDirect Translation by Hyde Flippo
Ein kleiner Mensch stirbt nur zum Schein
wollte ganz alleine sein
das kleine Herz stand still für Stunden
so hat man es für tot befunden
es wird verscharrt in nassem Sand
mit einer Spieluhr in der Hand
A small person just pretends to die
(it) wanted to be completely alone
the small heart stood still for hours
so they declared it dead
it is buried in wet sand
with a music box in its hand
  
Der erste Schnee das Grab bedeckt
hat ganz sanft das Kind geweckt
in einer kalten Winternacht
ist das kleine Herz erwacht
The first snow that covered the grave
woke the child very gently
in a cold winter night
the small heart is awakened
  
Als der Frost ins Kind geflogen
hat es die Spieluhr aufgezogen
eine Melodie im Wind
und aus der Erde singt das Kind
As the frost flew into the child
it wound up the music box
a melody in the wind
and the child sings from the ground
  
Refrain:*
Hoppe hoppe Reiter
und kein Engel steigt herab
mein Herz schlägt nicht mehr weiter
nur der Regen weint am Grab
hoppe hoppe Reiter
eine Melodie im Wind
mein Herz schlägt nicht mehr weiter
und aus der Erde singt das Kind
Refrain:*
Bumpety bump, rider
and no angel climbs down
my heart does not beat any longer
only the rain cries at the grave
Bumpety bump, rider
a melody in the wind
my heart does not beat any longer
and the child sings from the ground
* The refrain is repeated after the next two verses and again at the end of the song.
  
Der kalte Mond in voller Pracht
hört die Schreie in der Nacht
und kein Engel steigt herab
nur der Regen weint am Grab
The cold moon, in full magnificence
hears the cries in the night
and no angel climbs down
only the rain cries at the grave
  
Zwischen harten Eichendielen
wird es mit der Spieluhr spielen
eine Melodie im Wind
und aus der Erde singt das Kind
Between hard oak boards
it will play with the music box
a melody in the wind
and the child sings from the ground
  
Hoppe hoppe Reiter
mein Herz schlägt nicht mehr weiter
Am Totensonntag hörten sie
aus Gottes Acker diese Melodie
da haben sie es ausgebettet
das kleine Herz im Kind gerettet
Bumpety bump, rider
my heart does not beat any longer
On Totensonntag* they heard this
melody from God's field [i.e., a cemetery]
then they unearthed it
they saved the small heart in the child
Totensonntag ("Dead Sunday") is a Sunday in November when German Protestants remember the dead.

"Du Hast" (You Have) Lyrics

Album: "Senhsucht" (1997)

This Rammstein song plays on the similarities of the conjugated forms of the verbs haben (to have) and hassen (to hate). It is a good study for anyone learning the German language.

German LyricsDirect Translation by Hyde Flippo
Du
du hast (haßt)*
du hast mich
(4 x)
du hast mich gefragt
du hast mich gefragt
du hast mich gefragt,
und ich hab nichts gesagt
You
you have (hate)
you have (hate) me*
(4 x)
you have asked me
you have asked me
you have asked me
and I have said nothing
* This is a play on two German verbs: du hast (you have) and du haßt (you hate), spelled differently but pronounced the same way.
  

Repeats twice:
Willst du bis der Tod euch scheidet
treu ihr sein für alle Tage

Nein, nein

Repeats twice:
Do you want, until death do you part,
to be faithful to her for all your days

No, no

  
Willst du bis zum Tod der Scheide,
sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen

Nein, nein
Do you want until the death of the vagina,
to love her, even in bad times

No, no

The German lyrics are provided for educational use only. No infringement of copyright is implied or intended. The literal, prose translations of the original German lyrics by Hyde Flippo.