The Foreign Correspondent – Stories About German Rock Music # 25

This series has today a small anniversary. In the past months has I tried show up the spread of German rock music. I omitted consciously a section, which was enormously popular always in Germany: the German hit.

As hits are generally easily recognizable vocal pieces as pop music accompanied by instruments with often less demanding German-speaking often also called sentimental texts. Based on popular operetta melodies made since the 1920s the influence of jazz rhythms and harmonies and pop music since the 1960s. Since the 1950s, hits were difficultly to describe. I would like  to use this term:A short form for easy catchy dance music. It’s characterised by the simplest musical structures and trivial texts to the harmony and the listener’s feeling of happiness.The limits to popular and folk music were most fluently.

I didn’t grew up with the 50s hits because I am a child of the late 50s but I remember that very well that in my youngest times the radio was still often played the songs of Vico Torriani, Peter Alexander und Caterina Valente. Many of the songs were designed to listener distract from the harsh post-war times.

The 60s were the years of the so called Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle). The Germans started to go on vacation mostly over the alps to Italy. And this longing for sun and the sea has been addressed in many hits. The other longing was shipping. Freddy Quinn a former artist from the circus picked up this longing in some very successful hits.

On behalf of the hits of the early 1960s here is the 1962 by Mina sung Hot Sand whose text is inherently ambiguous and yet – or precisely for this reason – the taste of the youth this time: Black Tino your Nina was when Rocco already in the word. / Because Rocco you now found Black Tino you need to go / hot sand and a lost country and a life in danger /hot sand and the reminder that it once was / 
Black Tino your Nina dances in the harbor with the boys only the waves sing quiet what of Tino everyone knows / Hot sand …

These era was influenced by the music of the American soldiers which was stationed in Germany. It is shown in some songs that was arranged in a jazz-band style. Other former GI’s made it great in Germany as solo artist. For example Bill Ramsey who had some chart success thes days. I saw him once in the late 90s playing jazz standards – and was surprised how good he was after all these years.

The popular music in the 60s was divided into two camps in the German-speaking area: in the of the classic paddle and the German pop music. The largest contrast to pop music. The new experimental approaches in language and music was tried that remained of the paddle and already established German sung rhythms and melodies. Indeed the student movement to the critical questioning of the listening. The beat music of the Rock and the Pop conquered the German hit market. The music industry was afraid of the loss of their target group and tried to establish carefully French, English, Scandinavian and Italian artists who was already successful in their home countries singing their songs in German. I remember artists like Gus Backus, Alexandra, Wencke Myrhe, Rita Pavone, Mireille Mathieu, Nana Mouskouri, Siw Malmquist, Peggy March, Salvatore Adamo and many others trying to sing German. Some of their songs are evergreens which I can listen to sometimes in a sentimental mood.

In the 70s the young folks left the hits behind and turned more and more into another kind of music. But for the older one hits was still popular. More and more TV-sets were sold and in nearly every household you could find one. A lot of women listened still to German hits sung by handsome singers. I remember my parents watching the monthly chart show with acts like Roy Black, Michael Holm, Bernd Clüver, Peter Maffay and Udo Jürgens. Most of them were one-hit wonders others like Peter Maffay were still successful (of course he turned into rock music).

In the 80s the so called New German Wave was characteristic for German sung music but a lot of them turned into the nirvana of the New German hits (for god’s sake).

In the 1990s it was hip to look back into the 70s. By a bigger retro wave the old fashion (clothes, accessories and music as well) were popular again and brought us acts like Guildo Horn and Dieter Thomas Kuhn for a short time. In this time classical traditional German music became the taste of many people. I don’t want to talk about Wildecker Herzbuben or other ones that appear with typical countryside clothes and singing of a life that is real in no moment (but take a look and decide by yourself).

In the last years female singers like Andrea Berg and Helene Fischer were very successful. If I am honest I don’t know any song of the two above-mentioned singers. But I know that they are are extremely popular in Germany by people between 20 and 70. The newest trend is that old hit-artist appear on Heavy Metal Festivals like Heino played with Rammstein and Roberto Blanco played with Sodom.


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