Yes - this will come as a shock to a lot of you - but sweet, adorable, little me loves Rammstein. Blame it on the ex. I find so much about them incredible and as the Neue Deutsche Härte (New German Hard / German Industrial Rock) band has matured so too has the complexity of their music and lyrics.
Beyond music Till (the singer) and Flake (the keyboard player) are role models to me. I can be terribly shy so to know that amazingly powerful Till can also be introverted and suffer from nerves gives me a lot of confidence. Whenever I'm nervous or someone tries to put me down one of the first people I think "What would xxx do?" is Till. With Flake it's all about glasses. I still get hassled over my choice to wear glasses over contact lenses so to have someone as famous as Flake choose glasses me feel much less of a weirdo.
So! I would like to share with you my favourite Rammstein videos to prove that they are so much more than angry Germans.
Note: The majority of these videos contain mature content. If you're not sure if you'll be offended or not I've ordered them from not scary to down right wrong so that you can choose when to stop.
Ohne Dich (Without You)
My first choice should hopefully dispel any misgivings you have about the band. No violence. No angry shouting. Most definitely no Neo-Nazism. Just a beautiful ballad and a beautiful video about a group of friends on a mountain climbing expedition. You could show this to your grandma.
Ich Will (I Want)
This video is all about celebrity and how anyone can be rewarded with it - including criminals with a complete disrespect for human life.
Rammstein's early encounters with America didn't go well to say the least (they were arrested for simulating gay sex, called Nazis and patronised for singing in German). From these experiences came this song. It is nearly ten years old now and yet parts of it are as strangely relevant today as they were back then thanks to No Doubt's video for 'Looking Hot' featuring Gwen Stefani as a sexy Native American. No Doubt's video raised the issue of appropriation, aka one culture (usually white) taking aspects from another (usually not white) and using them out of context or with no respect for the original culture. This is a big issue in America where racial / cultural origins are an important part of many Americans' sense of identity. So where does Rammstein's 'Amerika' come in? Well this song is all about the influence (culturally, economically and politically) America has on nearly every other country in the world and that to survive in an America dominated world other countries must sacrifice their own cultures to become like America. The irony is obvious. I would love to read your opinions on this. I would also be interested to see if you believe the use of Native American clothing in this video is also appropriation.
(If it makes anyone feel better one of the items shown as bad are trainers but Puma and Adidas are both German).
Du Hast (You Have)
Probably the most famous Rammstein song thanks to the film The Matrix. Our young man has been done up good a proper by his girlfriend who has sent him off to defend her honour against a group of pyromaniac gangsters. It is certain doom but he faces it like a man only to find out that they are actually his old friends! Still...they need to burn something...
The art in this song is the word play in the lyrics. One example is the title. The phrase 'du hast' means 'you have' but aurally it is nearly impossible to tell from the phrase 'du hasst' / 'you hate'. It is only as the words build: 'du hast - du hast mich - du hast mich gefragt' that we learn she doesn't hate him but that she has asked him something - wedding vows (which later also involve a play on words) though paired with the video it is not hard to wonder if she does also hate him...even if just a little! Such play on words is frequent in Rammstein lyrics.
This video along with 'Ich Will' totally inspired me to buy a pair of leather braces lol (I should do a fashion post about them! They are total style icons!)
Mein Herz Brennt (My Heart Burns)
Mein Herz Brennt may be Rammstein's newest set of videos however the song was written as part of the album Mutter in 2000! It is about the monsters that come only for children...and Till's very bad case of heart burn! The first video features both metaphorical and literal monsters coming for the children. In the second video the instrumentals are stripped down to just a piano and so Till has been stripped of his horror too. Though he smiles at the line 'mein Herz brennt' it is the smile of someone fighting back tears and we realise that he is just as tormented as the children he visits but whereas they grow up and move on he is kept in perpetual torment.
Part I - to fear him...
Part II - to pity him...
Mein Teil (My Part)
Inspired by the German cannibal Armin Meiwes this song is meant to incite fear, disgust but also morbid curiosity - the kind the world had for the original story. The music is haunting. The lyrics are deranged, clever, humorous, dirty and poetic. The video is a dark nightmare but it's message is clear: you are what you eat and you know what it is...!
If you like this song also check out the live version where Till takes on the role of the Master Butcher but has some trouble keeping his food in his pot!
Whether you love or hate Rammstein one thing is clear: they force you to think. That for me is enough to respect them in an industry where filling a dance floor or providing a pretty face are preferable to challenging concepts and artistry. I hope that through my song and video choices you have also seen that along with being shameless troublemakers they are also showmen, artists, hopeless romantics and masters of the smutty double entendre (they are six lads after all).
These are just a handful of Rammstein's songs and videos. If you liked them you can check out all of Rammstein's videos here. Once you have watched all their videos you must definitely watch Haifisch (it suddenly makes so much more sense if you do - honest - you won't be disappointed!)
If I was to recommend just one album apart from their Greatest Hits (the lazy option lol) it would be Reise Reise. It is utterly dramatic and utterly poetic. It contains 'Ohne Dich', 'Amerika' and 'Mein Teil' as well as the epic song poem that is 'Dalai Lama'.