No, we’re not talking about Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” hailed as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. This is another, more recent song with the same name that is causing controversy in Germany.
The song by Robin Leutner, aka DJ Robin and his partner Schürze (German for “apron”) tells the story of a brothel woman.
The controversy began when a spokesperson for the city of Würzburg in southern Germany announced that he would “ensure that the song is not played in the future” at his festival, the Kiliani-Volksfest, stating that Schlager’s hit was sexist.
‘Ballermann’ Schlager: an infamous musical genre
The “Partyschlager” genre – folk songs with a catchy melody and loud disco beats – has gained popularity in Germany thanks to a special form of mass tourism on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
The name of a beach pub in the resort town of El Arenal, known as Ballermann 6, serves as a rallying point for the masses of German tourists who hit the bottle from midday, drinking pitchers of booze with straws, entertained by party hits.
“Ballermann” has become a term used to refer to an entire subculture – German tourists who party all day, but also music and its stars, including Mickie Krause, Jürgen Drews and, most recently, DJ Robin.
Over the years, “Ballermann” has become synonymous with an infamous type of tourist: This photo is from 1997
A lot of noise for nothing?
The song would likely have gone unnoticed outside a nightclub, but Würzburg officials were obviously careful and asked the organizers of the Kiliani folk festival not to play it.
It can be said that many German songs have very problematic passages, which one could either consider as simple recklessness or as an ominous disregard for sexual limits.
German rap and even the emotionally kitsch Schlager scene boast of content that treats mutual consent during sex as a weighty triviality and presents the woman as a mindless object.
Ballermann’s songs often play on sexual offense; the size of the male sexual organ or female breasts are central themes.
The lines of the song go, “Ich hab’ ‘nen Puff und meine Puffmama heisst Layla. Sie ist schöner, jünger, geiler” (I have a brothel and my lady’s name is Layla. She is more beautiful and younger and more lustful).
People who are used to songs played at Rhineland Carnival, Oktoberfest or any ski lodge are used to much meatier content – although that doesn’t mean ‘Layla’ should be played at events. a folk festival.
Meanwhile, Düsseldorf has also said it wants to avoid the song at its Rhine Fair.
Words worthy of the toilet
The lyric about lustful brothel Madame Layla is by no means mature, but a Ballermann hit can only become one if it’s also easy to sing along to while you’re completely drunk, maybe even while you’re throwing up in toilet.
The protagonists, DJ Robin and Schürze, learned the principle through experience. The former lives at “Bierkönig” (German for “king of beer”), a disco-pub in Playa de Palma, where Schürze won a Schlager competition for upcoming stars a few years ago. Fast forward to 2022, and the two singers are topping the singles charts in Germany.
Above all, it’s surprising how successful “Layla” is despite its objectionable quality, musically and lyrically. A 16-year-old amateur musician would probably be able to produce something similar with free software.
The German Minister of Justice – who is also an amateur musician – comments
Speaking of amateur musicians, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann also creates music in his spare time. As MBSounds, the Legislator posts his creations to SoundCloud, including “Driving to the Bar,” which, despite its misleading name, is not a Ballermann hit.
As attorney general and amateur musician, it’s only natural that Buschmann would feel compelled to comment critically on the “Layla” controversy.
He tweeted that officially banning the song’s lyrics would be “going too far”. Of course, legal experts were quick to point out that banning song lyrics would be against the law – others adding that a law banning song lyrics doesn’t even exist in Germany.
German Justice Minister Buschmann publishes his recordings on SoundCloud
In the summer hole
All in all, it looks like the whole thing is brewing for a storm, as this is otherwise a slow news period, known in German as “Sommerloch” – or summer hole, most of Germany being on holiday.
Meanwhile, the real debate on social media is not so much about sexism, but about which of these Schlager songs will top the charts in Germany this summer: “Layla” or “Dicht im Flieger”, a track that can be translated as “plane overpack” or “drunk on the plane”. For Ballermann fans, the party can also start before they reach Mallorca.
A YouTube commentator aptly summed up the high standards of these songs: “Every country gets the summertime anthem it deserves.”
This article was originally written in German