"Schrei nach Liebe" by Die Ärzte - Background Information, Short Analysis & English Translation

Martin_Canine
At first, a little back story and information regarding this song’s standing, meaning and legacy, as well as some cultural oddities needed to fully understand the song. Also a bit of analysis. You can read the translation of the lyrics before or after that, you find them at the very bottom.

Here's the song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppxMPZyzxAU

In the 80s, Die Ärzte managed to gather themselves a devoted fanbase in Germany as a fun punk band. Their lyrics were often tasteless, often surreal and most often very random, and they had a straightforward pop punk sound, sometimes with a touch of gothic. Some of their lyrics were considered very inappropriate and were indexed (specifically a song about incest and a song about bestiality, both very tongue-in-cheek - the latter is not on the index anymore) as back then people were not used to this kind of humor. It was new, but it would later on become part of the country’s pop culture. In 1988, they went on hiatus, and at that time had commercial success and a loyal fanbase, but that was about it.
They came back in 1993 with this particular song and the album “Die Bestie in Menschengestalt” that contained it. Not only was it musically more diverse, they also became very openly political, when before they were pretty much just a comic band. While the album still is largely humorous there were some tracks on it on which the group became outspoken against violence, racism, the neonazi scene and other topics they found worth discussing about. Suddenly, they were on the olymp of German music. Each of their albums were much anticipated by everybody.

“Schrei nach Liebe” was released as the lead single against their label’s will. Both the label and several radio stations considered it too radical in its language and wording to play it (not because of the topic). Fearing a commercial failure, the label wanted to immediately deliver a more easy digestible follow up single from the album, “Mach die Augen zu”, a melancholic love song (which is also great by the way). But those who know Die Ärzte also know they have their strict ideals, and they decided to give the single more time so it could spread - and it did. After a radio host gave it massive praise and encouraged other stations to play the song as well, it suddenly received huge airplay and became the band’s first top ten hit. Until today, it is their signature song and one of the most acclaimed pieces of German music of all time. In the years that would follow, the band would have a whole nother standing, now their discography became legendary.

“Schrei nach Liebe” is a radical statement against neonazism. That much is for sure. It was recorded at a time when racism attacks seemed to take over in the city Hoyerswerda and several skinhead groups started riots against locations known for their migrant population - the song however is not specifically aimed at that. The band wanted to send a very clear message, that’s why the song is at parts so aggressive: if you are a nazi, you’re the scum of the earth to them. And you’ll stay that until you change. After they made that clear, they start deconstructing the person’s tough and hateful attitude more insightfully and sensitively.
The lyrics are full of references to the aesthetics attributed to the German skinhead scene such as combat boots, laurel wreath and acorns. In the second verse, the two bands Störkraft and Böhse Onkelz, and the sampler series Kuschelrock are mentioned. Störkraft are a banned ultra right wing / nazi rock band that were very popular with radical skinheads. Ever since the beginning of their career, Böhse Onkelz have had a very right wing if not nazi fanbase even though they themselves have always denied having those views. Earlier tracks by the band sometimes made use of racial slurs even though there is a debate if those songs weren’t meant ironically. I don’t know personally, I’m not a fan and don’t know them well enough. The line in “Schrei nach Liebe” lead to a feud between the two groups. Even years later when asked about it Die Ärzte singer Farin Urlaub stated they still don’t like Böhse Onkelz. Kuschelrock is a sampler series containing love songs, implying that in his collection, buried between the typically right wing music, he also has something emotional for the heart, actually it’s quite the symbolic imagery. 24 years later this references may be outdated as only Böhse Onkelz are still famous and aren’t associated with nazis anymore, but I still love this line for its metaphoric meaning. It basically says: “you try your best to hide the fact that you just want to be loved under tons of hate but it will spark through in the end”.

In the last chorus, they sing “artizukulieren” instead of the grammatically correct “zu artikulieren” that they used in the two choruses before. Some longer German verbs interpolate the “zu” in the middle of the word (e.g. “niederschlagen” becomes “niederzuschlagen” in certain sentences), but “artikulieren” isn’t one of them. There have been several interpretations of why they did that. One of the most popular is that they wanted to seem less intelligent and suggest that even if you are as stupid as the first verse implies the nazi is, you can still be open minded and accepting. But it’s Die Ärzte who are also known for their extremely random and often improvised humor, they probably just thought it sounded cool or funny. The group is definitely capable of intelligent songwriting, but they are not Rammstein, not every word is placed uber precisely to stand for something on a metaphoric level (if Rammstein said “artizukulieren” I’d be the first to write a ten pages interpretation of the word).

In 2015, “Schrei nach Liebe” managed to top the German charts as it became the anthem of the “Aktion Arschloch”, which was founded as a protest against racist actions in the European migrant crisis. Out of solidarity, people bought the song to show their standing against racism. The band initially wasn’t involved in the project but then donated all the money they have made from it. The song has grown to be most likely the most famous German language protest song of all time and is generally regarded as one of the greatest milestones in German music.

I tried to translate the lyrics as accurately as possible, but of course the wordings sound nowhere near as natural and gripping as in the original, because they don’t flow well with the music or simply wouldn’t be phrased like this in English.

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SCHREI NACH LIEBE (Scream for Love)

You are really damn stupid
That’s why you feel so good
Hate is your attitude
Frequently your blood is boiling
Everything has to be explained to you
Because you really know nothing
Probably not even
What attitude means

Your violence is just a silent scream for love
Your combat boots are yearning for tenderness
And you have never learned to articulate
And your parents never had time for you
Oh oh oh - A-Hole!

Why are you scared of caressing?
What is all the tierce about?
Under the laurel wreath with acorns
I know beats a heart
And romance isn’t just
Mere theory for you
Between Störkraft and the Onkelz
Stands a Kuschelrock LP

Your violence is just a silent scream for love
Your combat boots are yearning for tenderness
And you have never learned to articulate
And your parents never had time for you
Oh oh oh - A-Hole!

Because you have problems no one cares about
Because you are scared sh’tless of cuddling, you are a fascist
You don’t have to project your self-hate on others
So that no one realizes what a kind guy you really are
Oh oh oh

Your violence is just a silent scream for love
Your combat boots are yearning for tenderness
You have never learned arti-to-culate
And your girlfriend, she never has time for you
Oh oh oh - A-Hole! A-Hole! A-Hole!

*a thunderous, epic percussion and guitar marathon starts which slowly gets overlayed by a calm, melancholic acoustic guitar and whistling*

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