Updated: May 13, 2021
Navigating the German music scene can be a challenge - especially if Schlager isn’t quite what you’re looking for. If you’re in need of some inspiration, here are some artists to get you started:
Thilo is an artist with a knack for instilling breezy R&B with pertinent social commentary. The most popular track in his discography, ‘Disconnected’, weaves slick guitar and dreamy falsetto into an eloquent reflection on the hazards of the digital age, and boasts over 155,000 streams on Spotify. Having recently released a handful of singles in preparation for his debut EP, Thilo is an artist you won’t regret following.
A multitalented singer-songwriter and rapper hailing from Berlin, Teesy is known for fusing R&B and rap, and has built up a fanbase from around the world. ‘Ich hab meine Träume verloren’ (‘I’ve lost my dreams’), the opening track on his newest album, ‘Hallo Toni’, is a luxuriant blend of soulful riffs and acoustic guitar, creating an old-school R&B sound so indulgent your playlist could survive on these four minutes alone. It also features harmonies from fellow German singer Buket.
Emilio Sakraya may be well known for his starring role in the Netflix series Tribes of Europa, but he also has an impressive discography under his belt. In his debut album ‘Roter Sand’ he contemplates youth, family, and a scattering of heartbreaks, strengthening a foundation of radio-ready pop with strikingly sincere lyrics. The title track is a bright, buoyant celebration of his multicultural roots as he tells the story of his mother’s life and proudly details her move from Morocco to Germany. If you’re after failsafe pop, look no further - although there is more substance to this artist’s musings than you might expect.
4. Joy Denalane
Internationally recognised for her distinct synthesis of R&B, soul, and African folk music, Joy Denalane has penned songs in both German and English during her two decades in the industry. Her most recent record, ‘Let Yourself be Loved’, is a jubilant celebration of soul, complete with magnificent brass backing, soaring choirs, and shimmering 70s-inspired guitar riffs. Denalane’s retro groove will certainly brighten up any playlist.
5. Philipp Poisel
Poisel’s heartfelt acoustic pop has spawned four studio albums; often consisting of nothing more than a guitar and his earnest, poetic lyrics, his tracks are tender without lacking substance or collapsing entirely into cliches. Think German-speaking James Bay or George Ezra.
RIIVA offers a slick blend of R&B, pop, and hip-hop, featuring airy, Billie Eillish-esque vocals tinged with defiance as she takes on hefty themes like gender and toxic relationships. Her tracks are synth-saturated and skillfully balanced with swirling harmonies; her debut EP, ‘Bold Femininity’, has all the energy and boldness of a grungey radio hit.
Cro is a singer-songwriter and producer known for his fusion of rap and pop, and his lively, often humorous reflections make for an ever-entertaining listening experience. Despite being a somewhat elusive figure - choosing to don a panda mask during public appearances - he cultivates a sense of familiarity and optimism, and his tracks are a source of cheerful nostalgia for many, both in Germany and beyond.
Built on a foundation of electronic music and hip-hop, as well as occasional reggae influences, Clueso’s musical career spans two decades, and his three most recent albums have reached number 1 on the German Top 100. His 2021 EP, ‘Leider Berlin’, weaves vibrant keyboard riffs with heartfelt lyrics and bursts of rap, creating a collection of satisfyingly catchy electronic pop.