Germany has a Team

Brazil has Neymar, Argentina has Messi, Portugal has Ronaldo, but Germany has a team.

This exact quote came from England's captain after the match against Brazil, but even before him, German commentators never tired to note the amazing team spirit of the German team.

With the German national soccer team returning to Germany yesterday, you could see some amazing pictures from Berlin of people lining the streets by the thousands just to see the open team bus and then 500,000 (more had to be turned away but there was a TV broadcast) filling the area between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate for the official welcome. It took the bus 2 hours to drive the 10 kilometers between the airport and the Brandenburg Gate because the streets were so full of people wanting to see the team. And there was a nice show, the players came up in groups and sang some songs with the crowd or engaged in playful banter.

What really struck me though was the humility that all displayed. After each of the matches, even the 7:1 against Brazil, they weren’t arrogant and were often seen consoling their opponents. And now, of all the impressions of the final show, I will remember this one: the German national soccer team, the new World Champions, forming an honour guard and doing waves as their support team of cooks, physiotherapists and other staff came to the front.

applaus für team hinter team

Ecstasy, German-style

Germans have the reputation of being rather repressed, not very excitable, but winning a World Cup is definitely a good reason to let loose. This article will be an overview of German songs of joy. Not high-class, well-composed ones like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, but rather the kinds of songs you’ll hear in the stadiums and on the radio.

But first, this video has some footage of the celebrations while/after Germany won the World Cup, starting with the goal:

The song that people can be heard singing in that video is “Humba Täterä” (lyrics without meaning) and you can find a purer version in this video, featuring Thomas Müller (a forward player in the national team) in the lead.

Another really popular song of joy is “Oh wie ist das schön” – you’ll hear it not just at soccer matches but also concerts and generally whenever people are too happy to remain silent:

The lyrics are quite simple and suitable for foreign students of German: “Oh, wie ist das schön! Oh wie ist das schön! So was hat man lange nicht gesehn, so schön, so schön!” (Oh, how great! Oh how great! Haven’t seen something like this for a long time, so great, so great!). There’s also a stanza to it, the slower part in the above video, which essentially says that a day like today should never end. People in the stadiums often just sing the chorus.

Similarly you may hear the “Viva Colonia“, originally a song for Cologne, but whose chorus is universal enough to be sung with great enthusiasm everywhere in Germany (footage from Oktoberfest):

“Da simmer dabei, dat ist prima! Viva Colonia! Wir lieben das Leben, die Liebe und die Lust; wir glauben an den lieben Gott und ham noch immer Durst!” (Count us in, that’s great! Viva Colonia! We love life, love and the zest; we believe in the good Lord and are always thirsty!)

More soccer-specific again, there’s “So sehn Sieger aus” (This is what winners look like):

German World Cup Anthems

And then there are a number of songs that become the inofficial anthems of one year’s World Cup.

In 1974, the German national soccer team themselves decided to try their luck as singers and published the song “Fußball ist unser Leben” (“Soccer is our life“, lyrics with translation):

They published this song before the World Cup. Fortunately they can play soccer better than they can sing, so they did win the championship that year.

In 2002, there were two competing songs: “Ein Rudi Völler” (chorus: there’s only ONE Rudi Völler) and “Olli Kahn”. Rudi Völler was a player when Germany won in 1990 and in 2002 he was the federal coach. Olli Kahn was the federal goalkeeper in 2002 and his performance was superhuman, making up for a relatively weak team, so the Prinzen dedicated a song to him. It was the year of the personality cults.

In 2006, the World Cup song was “’54, ’74, ’90, 2006″ by Sportfreunde Stiller. 1954, 1974 and 1990 were the years the German team became World Champions, so the song tries to place 2006 in the same row. Having learned from 1974, the German soccer team is only in a supporting role in this video, not singers:

The lyrics (with translation) boil down to the chorus “’54, ’74, ’90 and 2010. We all join in, with our hearts in our hands and passion in our legs, we’ll be the world champions“. I hate this song with a passion; some neighbours played it 10 times per hour. Despite these fervent prayers, Germany did not succeed, they came in 3rd that year.

This Year

This year, the German World Cup song is “Ein Hoch auf uns” (“To Us”, lyrics with translation) by Andreas Bourani – it’s still played on the radio all the time. Fortunately I find it easier to listen to. The lyrics are less simple and less arrogant. And the official music video paints an inclusive picture of modern Germany, against racism, ageism and homophobia.

(Alternative video source for people in Germany)

What do you think of such songs? Are you prone to sing when happy?