Oktoberfest Music: The Top 17 Songs In The Beer Halls

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    Along with the beer and the Oktoberfest food that goes with it, music at Munich’s Oktoberfest is one of the pillars* of the world’s biggest beer fest. All the beer tents feature a bandstand, from which a traditional oompah band will belt out a mix of traditional German and Bavarian folk and beer drinking songs, pop classics, and some more modern fare. Varying from beer hall to beer hall and increasing in tempo and intensity as the night goes on, this music is designed to get the revellers participating, dancing on benches, singing along and just generally being drunk and merry in each other’s company.  

    *Other pillars include the Oktoberfest outfits, fairground rides, Oktoberfest traditions, the beer halls themselves and of course you making the most of your big Oktoberfest trip!. 

    Oktoberfest Bands

    The bands that play in the Oktoberfest beer halls are legendary. These traditional oompah bands consist of more than 10 people, including multiple trumpet, trombone and clarinet players, as well as a drummer, a tuba player, accordion player and of course the singer (in the rowdier beer halls singers plural, especially when they start inviting revellers on stage). The bands are drinking Oktoberfest beers throughout their multiple daily performances, and are dressed in the traditional Oktoberfest outfits. 

    The general filler music throughout the day and night would be folk tunes, waltzes or polka, but mixed in with a healthy amount of pop hits both current and from yesteryear and German and in English.  

    What makes an oompah band? 

    Oompah bands have a long history in Bavaria – the German region of which Munich is the capital – specifically in the military, although once you see how much fun they are that’s a little difficult to imagine. They are also inextricably linked to Oktoberfest and while you can find them around the world they are almost always tied to some beer fest, or celebration of German folklore. 

    As far as the band’s composition, oompah bands are best defined by their higher than usual proportion of brass instruments which give the bands their distinctive “oompah” sound. 

    Best Oktoberfest songs (ranked)

    1. Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit

    Known affectionately as “Ein Prosit”, or “the song they always play that we have to cheers and drink to”, Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit is translated to meaning “a cheers to health and cheerful good times” with Gemütlichkeit being one of those wonderful German words whos translation means warmth and camaraderie felt amongst friends and strangers when drinking beer, or something like that. You’ll hear it throughout the day at Oktoberfest. 

    1. Angels – Robbie Williams

    One of the great singalong songs for locals and visitors alike, Angels really tears the roof off as everybody raises their pipes to the beer halls’ ceilings and belts this one out. It’s got a good amount of emotion in it and there’s barely an unhugged shoulder in Munich when we’re all together screaming the chorus to this one. 

    1. 99 Luftballons – Nena

    Nena’s 99 Red Balloons, sung in Germany as the original, is a nostalgic hit from the 80s and maybe the only Germany song a lot of foreigners know. It’s upbeat, it’s easily recognised, and modern enough while maintaining traditional ties. A good one to show the halls your dance moves. 

    1. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

    Another arm in arm classic to belt out, Sweet Caroline gives the audience a great chance to yell back at the oompah band “So good, so good, so good” meaning that even the more festive revellers can join in no matter how many litres of delicious beer they’ve downed. Also gives the ubiquitous American visitors the chance to join in and belt out a tune from home.

    1. Hey Baby – DJ Otzi

    There isn’t anything in the world quite like clutching your beer and thrusting your hips to the HOO HA part between the HEYYYYYYYY HEY BABY and the I WANNA NO-O-O-O WOHO IF YOU’LL BE MY GIRL. 

    1. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

    A favourite with football fans across Europe (and drunks in general) we’re certain that nobody knows any lyrics to this song except for the very chantable riff. A great time in the beer halls.

    1. You’re The Voice – John Farnham

    Look, we’re biassed towards Australian songs and had to sneak one into the top 10. John Farnham’s almost-national-anthem is so filled with hope and optimism and goodwill and just so happens to really let you open your pipes and scream the chorus. The locals never knew what they were getting themselves into allowing us Aussies in, and then giving us one of our national classics to belt out. 

    1. Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

    Another English language classic that makes it into the beer halls and our Oktoberfest music top 10 because of how it allows you to belt out the chorus along with the oompah band and also how when that guitar comes on at the start we all know that something’s about to go down. 

    1. Waterloo – ABBA

    We can’t get through this top 10 of Oktoberfest songs without mentioning everyone’s favourite Swedes. The bands will kind of play this as an instrumental and it’s up to us to butcher the lyrics, which we do with gusto. 

    1.  Living Next Door To Alice – Smokie

    We’re pretty sure that this song is only ever played in the beer halls because the band loves it when 1000s of drunk people respond with “Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?”, which is a good enough reason for us to include it in this rounding out of the top 10 Oktoberfest songs.

    1. Zombie – The Cranberries

    The Irish get in there with their riff-heavy song that is quite heavy in content too, but not in the beer halls, we just belt this one out. 

    1. All The Small Things – Blink 182

    We wonder if the Californian kings of teenager punk rock even know that they’re played on rotation in the beer halls, but they sure are. Small things, after that much drinking, are usually found congregating around the urinal. 

    1. Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon

    Woooooooooooah, this song is on the Oktoberfest music set list because after a few litres of delicious oktoberfestbier a lot of the people have sex on the mind. Fire less so. 

    1. Country Roads – John Denver

    A cruisy palette cleanser between bangers, this one’s nice to sing with friends old and new, or use the slow down in tempo to duck off to the bathroom.  

    1. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

    Sex on fire is often and unfortunately followed by Ring of Fire, so make sure you play it safe out there gang. 

    1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

    Almost banned from karaoke parlours the world over, we feel like the oompah bands will play this one in Oktoberfest to let the audience do their thing for 10 minutes while they have a drink. 

    1. Hey Jude – The Beatles

    Have you noticed a theme with songs that have choruses with singalong sounds more than complex lyrics are in this list? Well, that’s because we’re all too steaming to string a sentence together, let alone a whole chorus. 

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