German hit - popular, well-known, for everyone

geschichte, schlager -

German hit - popular, well-known, for everyone

We want to get to the bottom of the hit in this article. What does it mean, how has it developed and what is the status of the Schlager music genre today.

What is pop music?

Schlager is a musical style of European popular music that is generally a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of popular music with simple, cheerful and often sentimental lyrics.

It is found in Central, Northern and Southeastern Europe (particularly Germany, Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Finland, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, Scandinavia and the Baltic States) and (to a lesser extent) widespread in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the United States it is also known as "entertainer music" or "German hit mix".

German Schlager in transition

Typical pop music pieces are either sweet, sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or a light pop melody. The lyrics are typically about love, relationships and feelings.

The northern variant of the beat (especially in Finland) has adopted elements from Nordic and Slavic folk songs, with the lyrics tending towards melancholic and elegiac themes. Musically, the hit has similarities to styles such as easy listening.

Over time, music has gradually shifted towards electronic music rather than generic pop music due to the widespread use of synthesizers in their various implementations in recent decades.

Every song is a hit

The German word Schlager (a calque of the English word "hit") is also a loanword in some other languages ​​(such as Hungarian, Lithuanian, Russian, Hebrew and Romanian), where it has its meaning as "(musical) Hit".

This style was frequently featured in the Eurovision Song Contest and has been popular since the competition began in 1956, although it is gradually being replaced by other popular music styles. Nevertheless, the hits from then and now are popular melodies for a wide variety of occasions.

The roots of the German hit

The roots of the German beat are old: the word refers to songs by Heinz Rühmann and other singing film stars of the 1930s. An ancestor of the style may be the operetta, which was very popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Comedian Harmonists and Rudi Schuricke laid the foundation for this new music.

Well-known pop singers of the 1950s and early 1960s include Lale Andersen, Freddy Quinn , Ivo Robić, Gerhard Wendland, Caterina Valente, Margot Eskens and Conny Froboess.

In the 1960s (with Peter Alexander and Roy Black) and early 1970s, the hit reached the peak of its popularity in Germany and Austria.

From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, the hit also experienced a comprehensive revival in Germany, for example by Guildo Horn, Dieter Thomas Kuhn, Michelle and Petra Perle. Dance clubs played a variety of popular songs over the course of an evening, and numerous new bands were formed specializing in covers and newer material from the 1970s.

In Hamburg, hundreds of thousands of fans still gathered annually in the 2010s, dressing in 1970s clothing for the "Schlager Move" street parades.

The term "Schlager Move" is also used for a number of smaller Schlager parties in several major German cities throughout the year. (This revival is sometimes associated with kitsch and camp).

Schlager = Country?

The Germans consider Schlager as their country music, and American country music and Tex-Mex music are both important elements of Schlager culture. (" Is This the Way to Amarillo " is regularly played in hit contexts, mostly in the English-language original).

Today's stars

The popular pop singers include Michael Wendler, Roland Kaiser, Hansi Hinterseer , Jürgen Drews, Andrea Berg, Helene Fischer, Andrea Jürgens, Michelle, Kristina Bach, Marianne Rosenberg, Simone Stelzer, Daniela Alfinito, Semino Rossi, Vicky Leandros, Leonard, DJ Ötzi and Andreas Gabalier. Stylistically, the hit continues to influence German "party pop", i.e. the music that is most often heard in après-ski bars and Mallorcan mass discos.

Contemporary hits are often mixed with folk music . When not part of an ironic kitsch revival, the taste for both musical styles is often associated with folk festivals, fairs and other events.

Between 1975 and 1981, German Schlager became disco-oriented, merging in many ways with the mainstream disco music of the time. Singers like Marianne Rosenberg recorded both pop and disco hits.

The song "Moskau" by the German band Dschinghis Khan was one of the earliest modern dance-based hits, once again showing how the 1970s and early 1980s merged with mainstream disco and Euro-disco. Although Dschinghis Khan was primarily a disco band, they also played disco-influenced hits.