German things are funny because they're not. It's one big country of hyper-productive, hyper-serious people, a combination worthy of exactly zero party favors. They speak in harsh consonants and when they get tired of pushing the industrial envelope, they roil the international waters by invading and enslaving a few of their neighbors. Of course, things this unfunny are ripe for ridiculous parody. Mike Myers understood this when he created Dieter and "Sprockets" for Saturday Night Live. Rammstein understood this when they sang a song consisting almost entirely of their name. ("Rammstein...No birds singing anymore...Rammstein") |
Rammstein took every German stereotype, rolled them up in a crepe, and then conquered the crepe because it was French. Their music was heavily industrial, almost like KMFDM except for people that had friends. Their outfits were skin-tight and dark, making the band look like extra angry and extra gay versions of Bruno, or in other words, Rob Halford. On top of that, Till Lindemann found a way to take German, already man's harshest language, and make it guttural enough to compete with animal's harshest language, the puking dog.
Rammstein is one of the nu metal bands that is still hanging around because it had a hook it solely owned. Linkin Park is still hanging in there because they still make music that the general population likes. Rammstein is still hanging in there because the way they act is how the general population wants to imagine all Germans act. Driving peace and cooperation in the European Union is for pussies and probably Belgium. Whipping each other with chains while belting out "Engel" is what Germans do, damn it, and don't tell us any different. No really, don't.
Between your long legs
I search for last year's snow
but there is no more snow there
Sing it in German, Till! Now, you may have noticed that I said generalized hate was the nearly unanimous response to Rammstein among the Germans I have met. That's because there is one German guy who had a way better Rammstein story than "Sehnsucht" getting his Rhineland goat. I couldn't remember the details, so I had to go to a mutual friend who provided me with this:
"Stephan was squatting in an apartment building in Berlin (apparently, that wasn't strange) when he was a teenager. There was no water running in the apartment, so a guy told Stephan he could take a bath down at his place. Stephan thought that was a nice gesture, so he went to take advantage of the offer. Well, the guy ended up flirting with him and got into the bath with Stephan. Stephan says he got the hell outta there, but like I believe that. Turns out the guy was the keyboardist for Rammstein. I really need to ask him about it again..."
But while Rammstein may or may not have bathed in hot dog flavored water, they did release one of the quintessential nu metal songs. And that song was "Du Hast."
Du Hast --- Sehnsucht --- 1997
Of the nine songs in this feature, "Du Hast" may not be the best representation of nu metal as a genre. It is, however, the best representation of the nu metal band that sings it. If Rammstein is the liquid result of all German stereotypes in a blender, then "Du Hast" is the result of putting that concoction in the freezer. The two German slurries are identical in composition, except that one is in liquid (band) form and the other is a solid (single.) [And a solid single.]
I can remember my mom being amused when I listened to this song in high school, translating the song as "you have" me. Already knowing that it meant "you hate" me, I humored her. Well, while doing some Rammstein research (a new Ph.D. at Utah State) for this feature, I found this:
When Till is just saying "Du hast," it sounds as if he could either be saying "Du hast" (you have) or "Du hasst" (you hate). This is to give the song a double meaning, even though the official lyrics say "Du hast."
Accordingly, my mother has posthumously moved up ten spots in the latest Humbucker Power Rankings and the German language has incredibly become a little more gnarly.
Rammstein was another member of the Family Values Tour fold, touring around with Korn, Staind, and the rest of 1998's finest. I never attended this tour, and perhaps thankfully so after viewing the official video from one of the years. While Rammstein was on stage, Till whipped a prosthetic penis out of his pants (not borrowed from Onterrio Smith, sadly.) After simulating sodomy for an awkwardly long time with a band member, he then turned toward the crowd and unleashed a Super Soaker like ejaculation of something. The mosh pit would not have scattered faster if you threw Ziploc bag of measles in the middle. I have a hard time formulating a proper response to this scene, except to say that it makes the Stephan bathtub story more believable.
Willst du bis der Tod euch scheidet
treu ihr sein far alle Tage
I'm not translating this because you don't want me to. There is no possible English collection of letters that can top this Europe-domineering mess of sweetness.
Like all videos, there's way too much going on in way too little time. The important things that we are unsurprised to learn are that Rammstein likes to drink and that they are violent. And most importantly, they are too cool to look at explosions.
Dedicated to The Stick