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Rebecca: Welcome back to our All about German series, here on GermanPod101.com!
Widar: Hello.
Rebecca: Today, we bring you the Germany of today.
Widar: That’s right, German pop culture.
Rebecca: Now, pop culture is a hard topic to pinpoint.
Widar: That’s right, it’s constantly changing and developing.
Rebecca: So this is a little record of German pop culture in 2009.
Widar: Let’s start with popular German music. Together with the UK, Germany boosts the largest music industry in Europe, and one of the largest in the world.
Rebecca: Absolutely true. Metal and hard rock bands like "Rammstein" are largely popular worldwide. But for now, we’ll take a look at Germany’s domestic pop music market.
Widar: Yes. In the 1990s, pop and rock groups singing in German language had only limited popularity. Only a few artists managed to be played on the radio, like "Rammstein," "Die Prinzen," or "Rosenstolz." Almost all other German bands sang in English, probably because their management thought to sell their music internationally.
Rebecca: Anyway, looking back at the 1990’s, people now make fun of that time, calling it the "Decade of Techno." Techno, trance, and dance music was widely accepted in the German mainstream market, and events like the Berlin Love Parade had about a million visitors. Only German punk-rock bands like "Die Ärzte" or "Die Toten Hosen" had unbroken success, even with German-language lyrics.
Widar: Yeah, this changed drastically in 2002 with the success of "Wir sind Helden," a German pop-rock band that showed an impressive musical self-confidence. Several other bands followed this success, for example, "Silbermond," "Sportfreunde Stiller," and "Tokio Hotel."
Rebecca: They were successful and still are. Since 2002, German-language rock and pop music gained ground and met a broader acceptance, especially the band "Tokio Hotel." They have had an enormous success - nationwide and recently on an international level.
Widar: "Tokio Hotel" is a phenomenon. They really polarize the masses. Many love them for their unique Japanese-like Emo style and pop-punk music. Others hate them for exactly the same reasons.
Rebecca: But that is great! Despite all criticism, they are a perfect example for a band that tops all charts with German-language songs that are meaningful to thousands of German teenagers.
Widar: Yeah, it’s not easy to create meaningful music and still fill the concert hall and sell a gazillion CD’s.
Rebecca: I know. Okay. Then, of course, we have to talk about pop star idols.
Widar: Yes. Rebeccaavier Naidoo, for example, is huge. His musical crossovers, including R &B, hip-hop, folk, and pop, are absolutely outstanding. But nowadays, most of these idols start their career in a casting show on television.
Rebecca: So true! Very popular solo performers who were cast on television are Mark Medlock and Thomas Godoj, and casted pop bands include "No Angels" and "Monrose." You will see them everywhere in Germany!
Widar: Definitely. The members are all over television and in ads. They’re national idols that everyone knows.
Rebecca: I personally would consider them to be great performers, not so much great musicians. They’ve got talent, of course, but most of all, they know how to sell themselves.
Widar: These young idols are trendsetters, displaying the newest fashion in commercials on television or on covers of popular magazines.
Rebecca: And the management does a lot in the background to push their success.
Widar: Yes. One of the most popular idol producers is Dieter Bohlen. He’s a notorious former pop idol himself, but he transforms everything he touches to gold.
Rebecca: So who is your favorite pop star?
Widar: I like “Wir sind Helden” definitely. Their lead singer Judith Holofernes is really fun. I like
her voice and the straight way she and her bandmates perform on stage. And they have a
message: Be yourself and don’t follow trends just because others are doing it. It’s fresh
alternative music. How about you, Rebecca?
Rebecca: Well, I like Die Prinzen because they sing social commentary.
Widar: Okay, so along with music, movies are also really popular.
Rebecca: Sure.
Widar: Lots of people watch and enjoy Hollywood movies, but recently, German movies have been seeing a boom in popularity again. Apparently, the annual box office revenue for domestic movies hit a high in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Rebecca: The last time German movies have been popular in Europe was back in the 1980s when Wolfgang Peterson’s submarine thriller "Das Boot" and Otto Walkes' comedies reached millions of people in Germany.
Widar: Yeah. This success has continued for a couple of years, when famous comedian and film director Michael Herbig presented his first feature-length comedy hit, "Der Schuh des Manitu" ("The Shoe of Manitu").
Rebecca: That was the starting point for a lot of successful German films. Comedies like "Sieben Zwerge" ("Seven Dwarfs"), but also serious dramas, like the Adolf Hitler themed "Der Untergang" ("The Downfall") and Academy Award winner "Das Leben der Anderen" ("The Lives of Others"), focusing on the espionage system in communist East Germany.
Widar: There’s also a revival of provocative and innovative New German cinema that was scandalous and popular in the 1970s; experimental films like "Lola rennt" ("Run Lola Run) from Tom Tykwer, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s "Das Experiment" ("The Experiment"), or socio-critical films such as "Gegen die Wand" ("Head-On") by Fatih Akin, and "Baader Meinhof Komplex" by Ulli Edel.
Rebecca: And the good thing is that it looks like these new, innovative films are starting to gain more recognition internationally.
Widar: Through these and other films, German actors got attention and went on to start careers in Hollywood. For example, Till Schweiger in "Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life," Franka Potente in "The Bourne Identity," and Daniel Brühl in Quentin Tarantino’s latest blockbuster "Inglorious Bastards."
Rebecca: So, how about television? I get the impression that television in German is quite special and different from other Western television concepts.
Widar: I think you could say that! Germany actually has two broadcasting concepts - public broadcasting networks and private broadcasting networks. Young people usually prefer watching shows on the private channels, while older people prefer public channels.
Rebecca: Yes. Public or private, Germans love reality formats, especially quiz shows like "Who wants to be a Millionaire," casting shows, and talk shows. Concepts of these shows are often bought from models in the United States or the UK, like "Deutschland sucht den Superstar," which is the German version of the famous "American Idol."
Widar: Comedy shows are popular, too. Scripted formats, unscripted, experimental, late night, they’ve got something for all demographics. But the show with the best ratings is "Wetten dass," which is German for "You Bet!" This game and entertainment television show is the most successful television show in Europe.
Rebecca: Its attraction is these unique combinations of ordinary people offering to perform some unusual, often bizarre and difficult, tasks, and the top ranking celebrity guests chatting with the host and betting on the outcome of these performances.
Widar: The guest list is huge - Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Leona Lewis.
Rebecca: Yeah. That’s because these artists can promote their new movies or CDs in front of a massive audience.
Widar: I bet that’s the main reason.
Rebecca: So, to sum this up, talk shows, quiz shows, casting, and event shows are most popular in Germany, often even more popular then fictional drama shows.
Widar: Yes. Also very popular are "Telenovelas," hour-long soap operas shown in the afternoon. "Sturm der Liebe" ("Storm of Love") is very popular and has been sold to fifteen foreign countries, including Austria, Canada, and Finland.
Rebecca: Usually, dramas in the west run for as long as they are popular; they’ll keep coming back every season.
Widar: That’s the same here in Germany. Some crime dramas have been popular since the late 1970s and are still on the air.
Rebecca: Yeah, I’ve heard about that. "Tatort" ("Crime Scene"), is the most popular one for over thirty years now.
Widar: Yeah, well, it’s on for quite some time. The situation is different with experimental formats and non-mainstream shows. Some are renewed for a follow up season and beyond, but that depends on the ratings, the audience's response, and the studio’s goodwill.
Rebecca: Western dramas are also popular too, though, aren’t they?
Widar: Yes! You can see them on television or even rent the DVDs. Some popular ones are "CSI," "24," "Lost," "Fringe," "Heroes," and "Desperate Housewives." Name it and Germany has it somewhere on its schedule!
Rebecca: What shows do you enjoy watching?
Widar: Well, I really love “Lost” and “24”. Both shows are a great combination of mystery, action and thrill. And they don’t look like the old-fashioned TV shows but more like weekly cinematic events, with their superb special effects and popular casting choices.
Rebecca: We’ve mentioned before that there are German actors who worked successfully in Hollywood. Now let’s look at it in general. Are there any other German men and women who are well-known abroad?
Widar: Well, in entertainment, in addition to the ones mentioned before, we have Armin Mueller Stahl, who is an actor. Do you remember what movies he’s been in?
Rebecca: He was in the first X-files movie, and was together with Tom Hanks in the summer blockbuster "Angels &Demons."
Widar: That’s right! He's gotten a lot of film award nominations for his roles.
Rebecca: So a lot of people know him for his roles in these movies.
Widar: There are famous German people in a lot of different fields. In film, there is filmmaker Roland Emmerich. I can just say "Independence Day," "Godzilla," and "The Day after Tomorrow."
Rebecca: In film scoring, there is Hans Zimmer, one of Hollywood’s finest composers. His works include "Gladiator," "Black Hawk Down," "The Last Samurai," and "The Pirates of the Caribbean".
Widar: Also famous is contemporary author Cornelia Funke, known for her children’s book trilogy "Tintenherz" ("Inkheart"), and in the fashion world, there is designer Karl Lagerfeld.
Rebecca: If you’re unsure about whom any of those people are, there’s some more information about them in the write-up, so make sure to check that out!
Widar: Yes.
Rebecca: We shouldn’t forget to talk about famous German sports figures!
Widar: A lot of them are "soccer players," or "Fußballspieler," which is how we call them in German. Soccer is, without a doubt, the most popular sport in Germany.
Rebecca: Right. Germany has many popular soccer clubs.
Widar: Most popular are Bayern München, Germany’s number one club, and Werder Bremen. Both won Germany’s major league soccer and often played in the UEFA cups.
Rebecca: Germany’s national soccer team won the World Championship two times, and placed third in the 2006 World Championship that was held in Germany.
Widar: Yeah. That was huge. Germans love to describe those summer weeks as "the magic summer," where a new spirit set in and Germans showed their hospitable side to the world.
Rebecca: So who do you think is today’s most popular German soccer player?
Widar: I think it’s Michael Ballack, captain of Germany’s national team. He led his team to third place in 2006's World Championship and to second place in 2008's European Championship.
Rebecca: Yeah, a good player and a handsome guy!
Widar: Okay. That’s a little bit of German pop culture as of this date in history.
Rebecca: Please join us next time for more information on Germany at GermanPod101.com!
Widar: Before we go, we want to tell you about a way to drastically improve your pronunciation.
Rebecca: The voice recording tool...
Widar: Yes, the voice recording tool in the premium learning center.
Rebecca: Record your voice with a click of a button,
Widar: and then play it back just as easily.
Rebecca: So you record your voice, then listen to it.
Widar: Compare it to the native speakers...
Rebecca: And adjust your pronunciation!
Widar: This will help you improve your pronunciation fast! Thank you for listening.
Rebecca: See you next time!
Widar: Tschüss!
Rebecca: Bye!

4 Comments

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GermanPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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What do you like of German culture?

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GermanPod101.com
Friday at 4:38 pm
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Hi ydiana,


That's a nice inspiration :D


Regards,

Katrin

Team GermanPod101.com

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ydiana
Sunday at 12:29 pm
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German gothic metal and heavy metal were definitely what inspired me most to learn the language :)

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Salivia_Baker
Sunday at 11:31 pm
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It seems to me that most things you see on German TV is important be it formats, shows or movies. The only thing Germans seems to have an interest in doing themselves is crime related. As the mentioned Tatort for example.


Btw. tv shows and movies are dubbed, documentaries mostly have a voice over where you can hear the original language the interviews people are talking in (english most of the time).

Only on MTV and Viva (music stations, both owned by the MTV network) use frequently German subtitles. I guess the dubbing is too expensive for them.


I personally like Hörspiele a lot.