German Comedian Henning Wehn On The Joys Of Deutsche Musik

German music is, unfairly, the subject of some mockery. For giving us Kraftwerk alone, they’re already pulling their weight. We asked German comic Henning Wehn – as seen on Have I Got News For You and QI – to nominate his favourite German artists.

Genre: Prog rock
Stand out album: ‘Solar Music’ (1974)
“They started the same time as Kraftwerk. They are also from Hagen. They are still going. Their second album, ‘Solar Music’, is phenomenal. It’s high concept, a combination of talking and music. They’re never really had a hit single because they weren’t really playable on the radio.”

Genre: Punk rock
Stand out track: ‘Hurra Hurra Die Schule Brennt’ (1981)
“There was a saying in the 70s, ‘Komm nach Hagen Popstar warden.’ Come to Hagen to become a pop star. They’ve had more farewell concerts than The Rolling Stones. They had a few hits in, most famously, ‘Hooray, Hooray, The School Is Burning’.” Busted covered that one in 2003.

Genre: Pop
Standout track: ‘Neunundneunzig Luftballons’ (1983)
“She’s from Hagen. I’m from Hagen. Her father was a Latin teacher at the nearby school. She re-recorded the German version in English as ’99 Red Balloons’ because they wanted to make it more internationally appealing. As we see at the Eurovision every year, there is this idea that you have to sing in pigeon English. She’s had loads of albums in Germany since.”

Genre: Glam Rock
Stand out track: ‘New York/NY’ (1983)
“She was a big star in East Germany, with massive make up, so looking quiet extreme. Then she got expelled to West Germany and became a massive star in West Germany. She was one of the first people to make it in East and West.”

Genre: Hard rock
Stand out album: ‘E.I.N.S.’ (1996)
“Their songs are very popular when Germany are playing away. It was suggested that they had right wing tendencies back on the 70s and 80s. Whether that was genuine or unfounded, they’ve since distanced themselves from that. My parents would probably refer to it as “krach” or noise.”

Genre: Singer songwriter
Stand out track: ‘Saufen’ (1996)
“He’s always been a bit ahead of his time. He’s been going since the ’90s and still going strong now. Like the environment and people doing yoga and being at one with the cosmos, he has that very much on the agenda, but in a funny way, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”

Genre: Schlager
Stand out track: ‘Wieso Und Weshalb’ (1999)
“Opinions on his music are very much divided. He is a good example of Schlager – German pop – and was one of the best selling artists in Germany for years. He’s a fine example of commercial success not automatically equaling quality.”

Genre: Contemporary composer
Stand out composition: The opera cycle, ‘Licht’ (1977 – 2003)
“I play him when I’m on stage during the interval. It’s really interesting and challenging. Generally, the audience are then delighted to see me back on stage.”

Genre: Classical
Standout work: ‘Moonlight Sonata’ (1801)
“It’s nonsense that German music isn’t any good. Go back in history – Brahms, Bach, Beethoven. No one could say there has been no great music coming out of Germany traditionally.”

Henning’s new DVD DVD Eins, Zwei, DIY is out now