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Cologne – My Ten Favorite Songs About My Home Town

During a dinner concert in June 2020 of a Cologne local band, Cat Ballou (who will be part of my selection), I thought about what are my favorite songs about my home town Cologne. Most of the tracks are naturally in Cologne’s own German dialect, Kölsch (which is the same word like Cologne-brewed beer), but maybe I can give you a bit of the flair and fascination of Cologne music in this posting. I felt this is the perfect posting for Weiberfastnacht, Fat Thursday, which is the inception of the street carnival season – if there wasn’t Covid-19 this year.

 

The Most Frequent Sung-About City in Germany?

Even with nowadays technical capacities, it feels to be very challenging to really analyse all songs released and scan them for city names and description. This article in German states that New York is the city about which most songs exist. They give a number of more than 30,000 songs about the Big Apple. They say that there are 373 songs about Cologne. I swear I have more than that in my music collection, so this figures is definitely too low. In this (English) Forbes posting, they also state New York, but only have 161 songs about the US city – which is clearly due to the fact that they just analysed songs which made it to the US and UK single charts.

Due to carnival and the undeniable fact that Cologne people love their city and see much more beauty in it than you could ever explore as a visitor, I feel (but cannot proof) that by far Cologne is the most frequent sung-about city in Germany, with numbers of songs in the multiple thousands. Whatever – it is not about the volume in here, but about quality – so here are my top ranked ones.

 

My Ten Favorite Songs About Cologne

Here are my Top 10 about Cologne. I tried to select songs, which really have a strong reference to the city. There are loads of songs, which describe Cologne-style feelings – I will put them in a separate posting at a given time. Many of the traditional Cologne songs don’t have music videos, so that I tried to find YouTube videos, which best reflect the way people feel about the songs here in my home town.

 

10. Stadt met K by Kasalla

If you feel that songs about the city of Cologne might be a minor local phaenomenon, my first to entries proof you wrong. Stadt met K (“Town with K” – Köln is the German name for Cologne) by the Cologne rock band Kasalla comes with 6.5 million views on YouTube and almost ten million streams on Spotify. The party track is also a fan favorite by the supporters of the two major Cologne professional teams, the 1. FC Köln (soccer) and Kölner Haie (ice hockey).

 

9. Kölsche Jung by Brings

While Cologne music until the early 2000’s was very majorly a synonym for carnival music (apart from few bands like BAP), some new bands introduced new genres. There is Cologne dance pop, but also party rock. On top of Kasalla, one of my favorites, I introduced you just before, Brings is the likely the leading party rock band of the city. The band has 500k listeners per month on Spotify. Their biggest one is Kölsche Jung (“Cologne Boy / Guy / Man”), which is a favorite sign-a-long not just during carnival. In numbers, the video below has 16m views on YouTube – the second comes with almost the same volume of streams on Spotify.

 

8. Denn mir sind kösche Mädcher by Marita Köllner

Of course, when I think about Cologne, I also think about the traditional songs. Marita Köllner, who is majorly known as Et fussich Julche (“The red haired Julchen / Jolie”) recorded a couple of big Cologne carnival songs. Her classic, however, is Denn mir sin kölsche Mädcher (“‘Cause we are Cologne girls / ladies”). A song every Cologne person can sing along.

 

 

7. Mer stonn zo dir, FC Kölle by Höhner

I mentioned the two major Cologne professional sports teams. Indeed, the city is mad about their soccer team, 1. FC Köln / FC Cologne. Mer stonn zu dir, FC Kölle is the anthem of the club, which is not only sung by the spectators before every match.

As the video is quite poor, I added this video as well, which illustrates the popularity of the song: on the original stands in the Rhein-Energie-Stadion (“Rhein-Energie Stadium” – Rhein-Energie is local energy provider), 700 fans of the club recorded this very special version of the song:

 

6. Du bes die Stadt by Bläck Fööss

If you ask Cologne people for the most Cologne band of all, you will likely receive the reply that this is the Bläck Fööss. Not too surprisingly, I feature the band (have a look in their band history regarding their anniversary album review) twice in this posting. Du bes die Stadt is a lovely praise to my home town. Like surprisingly many Cologne carnival songs, it has a Scottish traditional song origin.

 

5. Ich ben ne kölsche Jung by Willy Millowitsch

In the next song, I will quote a song by one of the most popular citizens of Cologne, Willi Ostermann. However, if you ask about the most signature Cologne person of all times, most locals will likely reply with Willy Millowitsch – even though this legend already died 21 years ago in Cologne. His family drove a traditional theater for popular stage plays right in the center of Cologne. He has been loved by the people and I have so say that I feel gifted that I had the opportunity to at least speak a few words to him once in my life. A very friendly and open-minded person. The city celebrated his 90th birthday in the city’s largest arena (which was sold out, of course) – and really every spectator received a signed poster as a thank you (14,000 ones).

His most famous one, Ich ben ne kölsche Jung (“I am a Cologne guy”) is describing the strange characteristic Cologne habits. – Some of these things you just cannot get out of the people.

 

4. Heimweh noh Kölle by BAP (original: Willi Ostermann)

Heimweh noh Kölle is something like the unofficial anthem of the city. The song is already really old and has originally been recorded by Cologne singer-songwriter Willi Ostermann in 1936 already. For this posting, I selected a much more modern version of the same song, performed by Wolfgang Niedecken, leader of the band BAP. He is one of Cologne’s most famous citizens, the band is sucessful in all German-speaking countries in Europe.

 

3. Et jitt kei Wood by Cat Ballou

In the Top 3, the song by quite modern Cologne band Cat Ballou is the youngest track. Et jitt kei Wood means “There is no word” and it beautifully describes the feelings thinking about Cologne:

Et gitt kei Wood, dat sage künnt
Wat ich föhl, wann ich an Kölle denk, who oh oh
Wann ich an ming Heimat denk

(“There is no word which could describe
What I feel when I think of Cologne, ooh-ooh-ooh
When I think of my home.”)

A song about the unique feeling of Cologne as a home town. An amazingly beautiful one.

 

2. Hey Kölle, Do bes e Jeföhl by Höhner

Regarding the traditional carnival bands in the city, there are the two bigger-than-any-other acts in Cologne: Höhner and Bläck Fööss. Both bands are represented with two songs in this listing. Though I personally love the Höhner more, I have to give in that Bläck Fööss are the most Cologne-ish band. No doubt that these bands should both be in my Top 3, though. Hey Kölle, Do bes a Jeföhl (“Hey Cologne, you are a feeling”) is the Höhner’s anthem of the city. Practically any Cologne citizen is able to sing the tune, which is praising the special Cologne spirit. The first verse, for example, states:

Ich han die Städte der Welt jesin
Ich wor in Rio, in New York un Berlin
Se sin op ihre Aat jot un schön
Doch wenn ich ierhlich ben, do trick mich nix hin
Ich bruch minge Dom, dä Rhing – minge Strom
Un die Hüsjer bunt om Aldermaat
Ich bruch dä F. C., un die Minsche he
Un die jode, echte kölsche Aat

(“I’ve seen the cities of the world
Have been to Rio, New York and Berlin
They are nice and beautiful in their way
But if I am honest, nothing attracts me to be there.
I need my (Cologne) Catherdral, the Rhine – my river –
and the houses at the “Altermarkt”
I need the FC [soccer club] and the people here
And the good, straight Cologne way of life”)

 

1. Unsere Stammbaum by Bläck Fööss

Last, but definitely not least a second song by the likely most Cologne band of all: Unsere Stammbaum – “our genealogical tree” is an anthmen about Cologne diversity. The city has Roman, French and many other roots in the history and is nowadays of course also influenced by immigration. But the chorus says

Su simmer all he hinjekumme,
mir sprechen hück all dieselve Sproch.
Mir han dodurch su vill jewonne.
Mir sin wie mer sin, mir Jecke am Rhing.
Dat es jet ,wo mer stolz drop sin.

(“That’s the way we all came here
Today, we speak the same language
We won that much due to that
We are like we are, we’re the nut ones at the Rhine (river)
That’s what we are proud of”)

Just the best tune to describe the community thought in my city.

 

 

Postings about Cologne

Here are all postings about my home town Cologne:

 

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