Top Ten Songs You Didn't Know Were Cover Versions of Songs by German or Austrian ArtistsFor a long time, German cover versions of American songs were not uncommon. Before the 90s came and everyone seemed to speak English fairly well, German songwriters took English language songs with a hit potential and wrote German lyrics to their tune, even though some had entirely different meanings. This was especially common in the schlager genre. Of course English language records were still very successful.
Now, every once in a while, it happened the other way around and artists that are not from Germany or Austria covered a song by an artist from one of these countries. Sometimes the original songs were in German, sometimes not.
The Top Ten
This 1976 song by soul singer Shirley Bassey was originally called "Illusionen", and was a collaboration from 1968 between a German and an Austrian legend: Alexandra and Udo Jürgens. The chanson singer Alexandra, who tragically died in 1969 in a car crash and left a legacy of only two masterful albums, wrote the deeply sad German lyrics about painfully bursting the bubble of reality and performed the song, and the beloved composer and singer Udo Jürgens composed the dramatic music. He later on covered the English language version himself. The English lyrics are entirely unrelated. - Martin_Canine
The song was initially performed by a German singer called Sandy Mölling, known mononymously as Sandy, who was a member of Germany's most successful girl group No Angels. She tried to pursue a solo career, but never made it big on her own. This was at a time when German pop singers used to sing in English.
Even though the album wasn't exactly a hit and the song "One in a Million" wasn't even a single, the guys behind the sitcom "Hannah Montana" somehow discovered it and let Miley Cyrus cover it, which brought the song to a wider audience. - Martin_Canine
This song was originally by Tokio Hotel from their comeback album "Kings of Suburbia". This is by the way the song that made many German critics aware that Tokio Hotel have matured since their debut and that liking them is not something to be ashamed of anymore, and now they appear on several best lists. - Martin_Canine
So, this is obviously a cover of Falco's clasdic "Der Kommissar" from his debut album "Einzelhaft". In Austria, this song us as big as "Rock Me Amadeus", it's actually a tie between the songs which is his signature track. I much prefer this, as this is more what Falco was like. The original song is about Austria's underground scene, more specifically about how you should behave innocent when the police is around. The song is in Viennese dialect, but I guess you'll know what the "snow that we're all on" is supposed to mean.
The English version is entirely unrelated and of course doesn't mention the white powder Falco loved so much. - Martin_Canine
The Thai singer released a bunch of cover versions from all different artists, this song is originally by German soul megastar Sarah Connor. There apparently also exists a TLC cover of it, but it's an unreleased song. - Martin_Canine
The original song is called "Warum nur, warum? " and was composed and performed by Udo Jürgens. The song was sung as Austria's contribution to the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest, two years before he would win said international music competition. - Martin_Canine
I must say I don't really know if this version or Udo Jürgen's version were there first. But he composed it, so I guessed it was originally by him. The man composed thousands of songs and released so many records researching is really hard, especially when the song isn't among the most popular. - Martin_Canine
The Estonion band Vanilla Ninja recorded 4 highly successful albums in their home country, and for a short time also were successful in the German speaking areas. In that time, David Brandes, who produced E-Rotic, also produced for them. This connection may be the only explanation for why a synth rock band records an orchestral, powerful rock song with lyrics of angst and self-doubts over the tune of a eurodance song about hooking up with a pirate ("Save Me"). The build up and melody are identical, but instead of 808s and synth lines you get distorted guitar riffs and strings. - Martin_Canine
So, this one is a bit hard for me.
Udo Jürgen's original song "Griechischer Wein" is not only his absolute masterpiece, it is also widely regarded as one of the greatest German language songs of all time. It has one of the most iconic melodies and compositions of all time, interpolating traditional Greek music, mixing it with the typically German schlager genre and setting the tone for the lyrics about Greek guest workers in Germany who want to make a small fortune by working abroad but long for their homes to be united with their families. That is just masterful. Now Al Martino's version is... simply a jazz song. The Greek elements gone, the lyrics trivialized and not sociocritical, and missing everything that made it one of the greatest songs of all time. As a jazz song, it's great. But "Griechischer Wein" is one of those holy songs you simply don't cover. - Martin_Canine
The German eurodance group E-Rotic had their share of good songs, but a lot of them are ridiculous silly but harmless novelty sex songs, and this one tops it all. "I want your ring-a-ding-dong, my King Kong". But since they were successful in Japan, the short lived J-Pop band Hinoi Team recorded a Japanese language cover version of the song, which in turn was covered by another Japanese girl group called Shanadoo, which is produced by E-Rotic's producer David Brandes. - Martin_Canine