Rejoice, football fans, while the world despairs at the hubris of it all, for the Bundesliga is set to restart on May 15th. By popular demand, we are bringing you the definitive guide to the 2019/20 Bundesliga by explaining every team as a hit song from the past decade.
1. Bayern Munich — “Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)
Love ‘em or love to hate ‘em, you just can’t talk about Bundesliga without talking about Bayern Munich. From 2013 to 2019 they won the league seven times in a row while nabbing a Champions League title in the process. And whatever your thoughts on “Uptown Funk,” the fact is it closed out the decade as the rekordmeister of pop. Everybody has danced to this song just as everybody has enjoyed watching Bayern play football at some point, whether they’ll admit it or not.
2. Borussia Dortmund — “Despacito – Remix” (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber)
Supporting some teams feels like entering into a marriage of convenience. Not Borussia Dortmund. They’re a sexy sun-drenched memory of romance. Even the coldest heart melted a little watching Klopp’s Dortmund team storm their way into that Champions League final. And though you’ve now returned from holiday to cold unforgiving reality, you’ll always have those memories of falling in love the first time you heard “Despacito.”
3. RB Leipzig — “Old Town Road” (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)
It reads like a joke, or maybe a nightmare wrapped in a baby’s dream. It became a cultural phenomenon. You can hate everything about this song from the lyrics to the fact that it made Billy Ray Cyrus relevant again, but you can’t deny that it absolutely slaps. Just as you can’t deny that Leipzig under Julian Nagelsmann have been nothing short of revelatory. Nothing sums up the team’s attitude better than “Can’t nobody tell me nothin’/You can’t tell me nothin'”.
4. Borussia Mönchengladbach — “Shape Of You” (Ed Sheeran)
Did somebody order a shot of slightly watered down good times? This song is not typical Ed Sheeran, and Gladbach are not the typical answer to “What Bundesliga team should I watch?” A perennial wildcard with a penchant for shooting themselves in the foot, the Gladbach experience is as fun as it is frustrating. You’d have a much better time following other teams, maybe, but there’s something inimitably charming about the football equivalent of Ed Sheeran doing slam poetry over a marimba track.
5. Bayer Leverkusen — “Moves Like Jagger” (Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera)
I can’t believe Maroon 5 are still a thing, but I also have such fond memories of Songs About Jane—the way other people have fond memories of Michael Ballack and Toni Kroos and Stefan Kiessling and I assume Mick Jagger—that it’s irrelevant to ask why any of this is still happening. It just is. Kai Havertz exists. Some questions simply cannot be answered. Leverkusen is one of them.
6. Schalke 04 — “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele)
When I say Schalke wouldn’t know what to do with happiness if it sauntered up to them in a bar all smouldering eyes and provocative hips, what I mean is that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar—one of the greatest strikers of a generation—had a pitifully empty trophy cabinet for most of his career because he spent most of it playing for this team. Schalke were last crowned German champions five years before the Bundesliga was founded. In 2015 they knocked Real Madrid out of a Champions League quarterfinal, then turned around and let Julian Draxler go to Wolfsburg. What’s so funny about Wolfsburg? Well.
7. VfL Wolfsburg — “TiK ToK” (Ke$ha)
Why is the name of the song in sticky caps? How does one pronounce a dollar sign? Why was this song such a hit when most of us remember it with abject horror and not a small amount of embarrassment? These are all existential questions that define the Wolfsburg experience as you watch Daniel Ginczek score inexplicable goals and wonder what it even means for Koen Casteels to be one of the best keepers in a league that is culturally agnostic when it comes to defending.
8. SC Freiburg — “We Are Young” (fun. ft. Janelle Monae)
The definition of an indie sensation. There are few things in the world that just make you feel so purely good; this song and this team are two of them. Freiburg always come to play, and sometimes they are even rewarded for that bravery in the face of incredible odds. I think we’d all be better humans if we had Christian Streich coaching us through life.
9. TSG Hoffenheim — “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen)
Nowadays everyone is sick of “Old Town Road,” but Hoffenheim are here to remind you they were the original song everybody loved to hate. Carly Rae’s pop hit began as a simple little country number, and Hoffenheim were a provincial blip on the radar before Dietmar Hopp pumped enough money into the club to turn it into a household name. Love it? Hate it? Either way, it happened.
10. FC Köln — “Party Rock Anthem” (LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock)
Look, if you transfigured “Party Rock Anthem” into a football club they would definitely have a live goat as a mascot. That’s Köln, carnival city and home of Hennes the Goat, the Ninth of His Name. The club is historic, the support is incredible, and it’s best enjoyed with some intense play-hard-party-harder energy.
11. Union Berlin — “Take Me To Church” (Hozier)
I think often of something that Chelsea Peretti said on Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “Life is chaos, success is completely arbitrary.” On paper this existential crisis of an anthem is the opposite of commercially viable, yet it ended up one of the biggest songs of the decade. Like Union’s football, you’re never quite sure if you’re actually enjoying it. But the story spoke to you, and now you can’t look away.
12. Eintracht Frankfurt — “Counting Stars” (OneRepublic)
Half the people reading this just rolled their eyes. And that’s fine. Eintracht Frankfurt don’t need your admiration to do their thing, just as Ryan Tedder doesn’t need your permission to keep turning out the earworm equivalents of wearing socks with crocs. Eintracht are a founding member of the Bundesliga. Eintracht have also racked up the most losses of any club, ever, in the Bundesliga. And it’s only increased their legend.
13. Hertha Berlin — “We Found Love” (Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris)
It’s an iconic hit, you heard it everywhere and then some, but once the initial magic of Rihanna’s voice wears off, the song is actually slightly underwhelming. That’s Hertha Berlin, colloquially known as “The Old Lady,” one of the most pedigreed clubs in German football, perennial hopefuls and constant underachievers. But I guess that’s all part of finding love in a hopeless place.
14. FC Augsburg — “Hey, Soul Sister” (Train)
There’s nothing cool about liking this song, but it’s charming all the same. Augsburg were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time ever in 2011 and have stayed up ever since—no mean feat for a club whose most famous product is, arguably, Markus Weinzeirl for how badly he subsequently did as Schalke head coach.
15. Mainz 05 — “Dynamite” (Taio Cruz)
It was fun in 2010. Just like Mainz. Famous for their carnival atmosphere, Mainz have the reputation of being the party school of the Bundesliga, though in recent seasons the team’s on-pitch performances were more likely to make you want to drink alone in your dorm room while questioning the hypocrisy of higher education.
16. Fortuna Düsseldorf — “Happy” (Pharrell Williams)
Fortuna have very little to their name, and that includes drama. What’s there to dislike? They hold the all-time 3.Liga attendance record. They handed Bayern their biggest away defeat ever back in 1978. They’re the opposite of a spoiler, and their ultras produce some of the best choreos in the league. If any Bundesliga team feels like a room without a roof, it’s Fortuna.
17. Werder Bremen — “Thrift Shop” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz)
A true gem of an elaborately crafted joke of a hit. Claudio Pizarro will score some grandad goals and he will look incredible. Bremen of late are a team that defy analysis but remain immensely enjoyable nonetheless. How did a team with so much talent land in the drop zone? How does “Thrift Shop” even exist? Does it really matter, when the end result is effing awesome?
18. SC Paderborn — “Locked Out Of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
Do you even remember this song? I didn’t, and that’s an indictment against me given it ended the decade at #45 on the Billboard Top 100. It’s a great throwback, and also a convenient piece of commentary on Paderborn who, by all appearances, are going to be locked out of the Bundesliga in very short order.
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