“Die Prinzen” is a famous German band that was created in the eighties. It has seven members, all of whom sang and studied music in the St. Thomas Choir. The lead singers are named Tobias Künzel and Sebastian Krumbiegel, and the latter actually earned a Bundesverdienstkreuz (a German national honor) for his social activism. After listening to many of their songs and (with much difficulty) translating them, I find the lyrics very funny, and the comedic methods used very noteworthy. The purpose of this blog post is to analyze this band’s style and describe some similarities between “Die Prinzen” and my favorite band “El Cuarteto de Nos” (from Uruguay).
I find it very difficult to find a band whose songs don’t mostly deal with love or romance and have something clever or original to say. Maybe I’m too picky, but I can hardly stand a song that is about an overused topic (like breakups or unrequited love) or that takes itself too seriously. Although many songs by “Die Prinzen” are about romance, most of them have something strange or unique, so that they are more similar to a parody than a sincere love song. For example, in the song “Besoffen vor Glück”“Intoxicated with Joy”, the singer’s infatuation is so strong that it makes him as giddy as if he were on drugs. The song “Gut im Bett” “Good in Bed” describes an awkward and annoying couple that is astonishingly “good in bed” (but “unfortunately nowhere else”).
Other songs treat a variety of topics. The singer in the song “Achtung! Achtung!” “Attention! Attention!” reminds the American or British listener of the many Germanisms of the English language. “Politiker” “Politicians” is, of course, a satirical description of politicians. Many songs have an “unreliable narrator” - the singer expresses an opinion with which the listener can sympathize somewhat, but the singer’s point of view is fallacious or exaggerated. Some examples: in the song “Du mußt ein Schwein sein” “You have to be a pig”, the singer uses the fact that tough and mean people always get their way and weak and nice people always get taken advantage of as an excuse to be an unscrupulous bully; the singer in “Morgen” “Tomorrow” admits that he’s behaved badly, and promises that he’ll improve tomorrow (“dann bohre ich nicht mehr in meiner Nase / und helfe alten Frauen über die Straße” “then I won’t pick my nose anymore / and I’ll help old ladies across the street”) and he gets frustrated when the listener doesn’t believe him; in “Mein Fahrrad” “My Bicycle”, the singer is a bicycle fanatic that scorns all car drivers to the extreme (“jeder Popel fährt ‘nen Opel / jeder Affe fährt ‘nen Ford / jeder Blödman fährt ‘nen Porsche / jeder Arschman Audi Sport" “every snot drives an Opel / every ape drives a Ford / every dumbass drives a Porsche / every asshole Audi Sport”). “Schleimbeutel” “Bootlicker” has two narrators - a flatterer who is trying to seduce a lady, and a chorus that explains his disingenuousness:
Of course, “Die Prinzen” spices up its lyrics with many jokes, puns, innuendoes, and sometimes absurdities. They are sometimes totally ridiculous, but seldom boring!
It happens that the style of “Die Prinzen” is very similar to that of “El Cuarteto de Nos,” the oldest still-performing Uruguayan band. In another blog post I explained the techniques used by “El Cuarteto de Nos,” including that of the “unreliable narrator.” There are even some pairs of songs from these bands that make use of the same humorous themes: “Ungerechtigkeit” “Unfairness” and “Vida Ingrata” “Thankless Life” excessively complain about the petty injustices of life; “Heute ha-ha-habe ich Geburtstag” “Today I ha-ha-have a birthday" and “No Te Invité a Mi Cumpleaños” “I Didn’t Invite You to my Birthday” exaggerate the importance of birthdays; the egocentric and querulous singer of “Mama” has the ego of the singer in “Me Amo” “I Love Me” and the sensitivity of the singer in “Mama, la Bajista Me Está Pegando” “Mom, the Bassist is Hitting Me”. Some similarities are really uncanny.
The songs of “Die Prinzen” are admittedly not quite as philosophical and profound as some from “El Cuarteto de Nos,” but because of the quality and originality of their lyrics, they are my favorite bands.back to home page