Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Learning From Music Videos: German Versions of Disney Songs

Last time I showed you some German versions of English songs ending with Phil Collins’ German version of “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan. Today I wanted to show you some more German versions of songs from Disney movies. As before, just a reminder these versions are not exact translations (because that would make for pretty terrible songs) and often just catch the gist rather than the literal meaning. It’s been cool to compile this as when I first watched them I only knew what was going on because I’d heard the original songs, but now I can listen to them and actually understand many of the slight differences in the versions. [Update: For those who prefer a playlist, I’ve added these songs and the ones from German Versions of Disney Songs 2 to this YouTube playlist].

This is “Nanu?”, the German version of “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is one of my favorite Disney movies, and this is by far one of my favorite German versions of a Disney song. I found lyrics here. Nanu is a German expression of surprise. My dictionary equates it to the expression “Well I never” in English, but I’ve rarely heard the phrase “Well I never” in real life. A commenter on the video equates it to “What the…?” and I think that’s probably more accurate. Another commenter says it’s just a sound like “ooh” or “aah” and is used when “something is new, unexpected or questionable”. However you want to interpret it, it’s a fun word although I’ve yet to be able to use it in real life.

Mulan is another of my favorite Disney movies. Here’s “Sei ein Mann” (Be a Man), which is the German version of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”. There are lyrics here. Usually the people singing the German versions have a very different sound to them, but the guy who sings for Li Chang in the German version doesn’t sound that different from Donny Osmond signing in the original.

This is “Seid bereit”, the German version of “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. This and the next few songs were uploaded by Cornbugles, and I’ll tell you a bit more about her channel at the end of this post. Here’s a scene in German between Simba and Rafiki that she also uploaded. This video also includes the scene leading up to the song. Personally, I like the German voice of Scar better than the English one. He just sounds more menacing. It’s a bit weird watching from about 3:18 to 3:45 in German though. It’s easy to see Scar and the hyenas as reminiscent of Hitler and the Nazis even in English, but it’s much more obvious when Scar’s speaking in German. If you want to see the lyrics, open this video in YouTube, look under About, and click Show More.

This is “Schnell Weg!” the German Version of “One Jump Ahead” from Aladdin. “Schnell” is quick/fast. “Weg” can be way or away/off. My guess would be they’re using it to mean away so the title in English would be “Quick Away”, but since we wouldn’t really say that in English I’d say the English version of the title might be “Quick Escape”. This is another one where the German singer sounds pretty close to the original. If you want to see the lyrics, open this video in YouTube, look under About, and click Show More.

This is “Unter dem Meer”, the German version of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, which is one of the first Disney movies I recall watching as a kid. If you want to see the lyrics, open this video in YouTube, look under About, and click Show More. I don’t think this Sebastian has quite the pep in his voice of the original, but I figured this would be the most fun song to share from the movie.

This is “Belles Lied: Unsere Stadt” (Belle’s Song: Our Town), the German version of “Belle” from The Beauty and the Beast. If you want to see the lyrics, open this video in YouTube, look under About, and click Show More. Belle is one of my favorite Disney princesses, mostly because she loves to read. I’d love to have a huge library like the one she gets some day, but for now I would settle for getting one of those ladders like the book shop has and a couple extra book cases. I’ve got two big ones and a small one and most of my books are in stacks on them because I don’t have enough room to put them all the right way.

I’ve found a lot of German versions of Disney songs on Cornbugle’s YouTube channel. In addition to those, she has a lot of cool multilanguage videos where each segment is sung in a different language. Here is “Reflection” from Mulan in Polish, Dutch, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, German, Latin Spanish and Hindi. The German starts at 1:03.

She also has done some of her own fan dubs in German and English, although if you’re in Germany GEMA has blocked a lot of them. Personally I prefer her German singing, but here’s her singing “Part of Your World” in English and When Will My Life Begin in German. If you’re looking for your favorite Disney movies in German or another language, I would check her channel first. If you need to cast a wider net, Disney movies are the rare exception to the “auf Deutsch” rule I mentioned last time, and you’ll probably have better luck searching for the song “in German”.

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2 Thoughts on “Learning From Music Videos: German Versions of Disney Songs

  1. This is a great idea. I have a ten year old daughter who is learning German. The only problem I am finding – if we use the Tangled song, “When Will my Life Begin” example – is that the German versions on Youtube do not match up with the lyrics I have found in German of the song. There are some that have the words that come up on screen – none of these can be found anywhere that I can find, so I can put into a Word doc and print. The words (in English) on some of the Tangled Deutsch versions are not what the original song words are at all. Have you had better success at this?

    • If the German lyrics aren’t matching what you’re hearing, what might be happening is that you are finding a German translation of the English song, which is what Germans who are trying to learn English would be following along with when watching the English version, rather than the lyrics to the German version. You might try looking for a song “auf Deutsch” (in German) and with “Deutsch Untertitel” (German subtitles) and hopefully this should return a result or two that will be helpful. Sometimes you might get lucky and clicking “show more” will reveal printed lyrics in the description.

      If not, you can try typing in the German name of the song and the word “Liedtext” which is “song lyrics”. For example When Will My Life Begin in German is Wann fängt mein Leben an. I put that in with Liedtext and found this: http://www.magistrix.de/lyrics/Pia%20Allgaier/Wann-F-ngt-Mein-Leben-An-1104424.html which does match what you hear in the German version sung in this video (which does not have lyrics in the “show more” but does have some keywords). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQMcsmq9Mq4 If you can’t find the German lyrics of a song that way, try transcribing a German line or two from the chorus and see if you can get the full song to come up. Otherwise, unfortunately if you want a printed version of the song you might have to get it by transcribing it all. Double check what the German title is of the song you want also as there are cases where the title is actually not a direct translation of the English title.

      As for the English words showing in the German versions being different than the original, the reason for this is that what you are seeing is an English translation of the German version. The German songs are not direct translations of the originals, which probably wouldn’t sound very poetic, but different versions of the songs. Often the spirit of the song is very similar, but there are cases where things are totally different. If you have knowledge of the original version and also know the English translation of the German version, it can be fun to compare the two. For example, in Frozen English-speaking kids know one of Else’s lines in “Let it Go” is “The cold never bothered me anyway”. In German, this line is “”Die Kälte, sie is nun ein Teil von mir” which is “The cold, it is now a part of me”.

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