Historically one of Europe’s great cultural centers, Berlin has taken on a special significance as a center of the avant-garde in the twenty-first century. This embracing of the experimental is most evident in Berlin’s musical scene. This playlist showcases the creativity and innovation present in Germany’s capital.

1. Nur ein Wort – Wir Sind Helden – 2005

Active from 2000 to 2012, Wir Sind Helden was one of Germany’s most popular pop rock bands. Led by singer-songwriter Judith Holofernes, Wir Sind Helden released four studio albums and toured widely through Europe.

2. 2002 – Sido – 2019

With hyper aggressive lyrics and a provocative artistic persona, Sido is one of Germany’s best known rappers. He’s released eight studio albums to go along with five collaborations.

3. Ticket – Seeed – 2019

With elements of reggae, hip-hop and dance pop, Seeed is one of Germany’s most interesting bands. They have worked with artist as diverse as Cee-Lo Green and General Degree. With six studio albums, Seeed are an established member of Berlin’s indie scene.

4. Addicted to You – Alec Empire – 2001

A member of Berlin’s experimental scene, Alec Empire is an electronic musician who is best known for is band Atari Teenage Riot. He also works as both a producer and DJ.

5. Keine Religion – Joy Denalane – 2015

German singer-songwriter Joy Denalane mixes influences from soul, R&B and jazz to her unique blend of folk pop. She has released four studio albums and has featured appearances from artists such as Lupe Fiasco and Raekwon.

6. Hand in Hand – Beatsteaks – 2015

Formed in 1995, punk band Beatsteaks originated in Berlin and quickly became one of the biggest bands in Germany’s punk scene. The band released eight albums with one gaining platinum certification.

7. Dann fall ich – Peter Plate – 2014

Singer-songwriter Peter Plate was the keyboardist of Rosenstolz, a successful German pop-duo. Since their break-up, Plate has released a solo album in 2013 and continues to be a prominent musician in Berlin’s musical community.

8. Du hast – Rammstein – 1997

Officially classified as Neue Deutsche Harte, Rammstein are best known as one of the world’s most famous metal and gothic bands. They have been active and touring since 1994 and have released seven studio albums.

9. Junge Sein – Ellen Allien – 2019

Proficient in both English and German, Ellen Allien created techno and EDM music that was often dance oriented and highly experimental in nature.

10. Monsta – Culcha Candela – 2010

One of Germany’s most multi-cultural groups, Culcha Candela features members from Uganda, Poland, Colombia, and South Korea. The group has released seven albums and sold millions of albums world-wide.

11. Der letzte Optimist – Judith Holofernes – 2017

The lead singer of Wir Sind Helden, Judith Holofernes has also released music under her solo label. Her 2017 album Ich bin das Chaos furthered her blossoming career in German indie.

12. Horizont – In Extremo – 2005

Specializing in medieval metal, In Extremo combines medieval songs with metal to create a truly novel sound. Some of their best-known compositions contain instruments such as bagpipes, harps and contain traditional songs taken from old European folk history.

13. Alter Mann – Knorkator – 2007

Knorkator melds Germany heavy metal with comedy to present one of Berlin’s most unusual musical performances. They have released dozens of albums that feature live performances as well as their original compositions from their studio.

14. Rennrad – Dota Kehr – 2016

Singer-songwriter Dorothea Kehr incorporates spoken word rhythm into her jazz influenced sound. She has released over a dozen different albums over her seventeen-year career.

15. Moby Dick – GURR – 2016

Garage band duo GURR have released two studio albums and are one of the most popular bands in contemporary German indie. They have toured Europe extensively and even performed at music festivals in the US such as the highly esteemed South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

16. Lightning – Astrid North – 2012

Before her tragic death of pancreatic cancer in 2019, Astrid North was one of Germany’s most beloved soul singers. She has released five albums and toured widely through the 2000’s. Her last studio album was released in 2016 as a dedication to her grandmother.

17. Keine Maschine – Tim Bendzko – 2016

Popular throughout Germany, singer Tim Bendzko has released four studio albums and has toured widely through Germany and Europe. His second album was certified double platinum and remains his most popular.

18. Lost Forever – I Heart Sharks – 2016

Indietronica band I Heart Sharks are heavily influenced by both British and German music and sing primarily in English. They are known for taking on taboo topics in their lyrics and giving energetic live performances.

19. Sloth – Slow Steve – 2016

Indie pop group Slow Steve are still on Berlin’s underground radar and have few singles out for the general public. The band remains an underground cult favorite though.

20. Jimmy’s Dad – Jahcoozi – 2012

London-born trio Jahcoozi met in Berlin and released three albums in their short time together. The band was popular throughout Europe and performed with a number of collaborators and multi-nation tours.

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