Rammstein is the king of the Neue Deutsche Härte genre, a subgenre of rock music that first rose to prominence in Germany and Austria in the mid-90s. Combining groove metal and alternative metal with post-punk and electro-industrial, they found immense popularity in Europe thanks to their incredible live performances. Though they’ve released a number of hit tracks over the years, Du Hast is their best-known single, and today, we’ll go over the interesting meanings behind this song.
The Success of “Du Hast”
Du Hast was one of the tracks that helped Rammstein find international success. It’s the band’s best-known song today, thanks mainly in part to its prolific use in other media. You can hear it on video games like Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band 3, as well as in film soundtracks including The Matrix: Music from the Motion Picture and How High.
Several different versions of the track have been recorded by Rammstein and other bands. The original one by Rammstein featured two of these, one completely in German and one in German and English. While the English version is not a direct translation of the German original, it does still carry the exact same meanings. Motionless In White covered the song for the Punk Goes 90s Vol 2 album in 2014 and Lizzo covered the song while performing in Germany.
It found chart success internationally, reaching the top 20 of the US Mainstream Rock charts, number two on the Canadian Alternative 30, and number five on the German Official charts. It would eventually earn gold certification in Denmark and silver certification in the UK.
The Many Meanings And Entendres Of “Du Hast”
The title and lyrics of Du Hast are a play on words in German. While they don’t have a direct English translation, it’s essentially a play on the German “du hasst,” meaning “you hate,” and “du hast,” meaning “you have.” The German term is a homophone, meaning a single word that has a different meaning, depending on how the word is stressed when spoken.
Comparing the English and German versions of the song gives a clearer version than trying to understand the intentional double meaning of “du hast.” The English lyrics of the track intentionally say “to hate” in the translation, rather than leaving English speakers to figure out the homophones themselves.
In fact, the English version is a lot more straightforward than the German version, though it does lose a bit of the fun wordplay involved in the song. Du Hast is, at its core, about the subject of marriage and stands as a promise by the singer that he will not be marrying the woman he’s currently in a relationship with. It even makes it more clear in the English version that the two hate each other, despite their—assumed—long relationship that is active enough to bring marriage up in the first place.
The singer is asked if he will be faithful to the woman all of his days, love and support her on the bad days, and stick with her until death. The obvious answer he gives is no, which is the repeated answer he gives throughout the song. A literal translation of his responses would be “You have asked me and I have said nothing,” which is even harsher than just telling her he won’t be marrying her.
A couple of other interesting translations of the song can be read as “You hate me but you still want to marry me” and “You want to marry me but I don’t want to.”
Du Hast takes it a step further with the symbolism of the track. It has lines that are essentially a play on traditional German wedding vows: Wollen Sie einander lieben und achten und die Treue halten bis dass der Tod euch scheidet?
Now, throughout the song, the typical response has been to say nothing to all the other marriage questions. To this, instead of replying with a yes—as you would at a wedding—the answer is an objective no.
In the end, Du Hast is a song about marriage, but mainly about the singer emphatically letting his girlfriend know that he has no intention of marrying her, and he believes they actually hate each other but refuse to end the relationship.
The Legacy of “Du Hast”
The Matrix film may have been the big introduction that brought Rammstein to the US, but it wasn’t the only reason the track caught on so well. While the English version still contains a good bit of German, the song felt relatable for a lot of people, whether they delved into the meanings of all the lines or not.
The staggering power of Du Hast—alongside the only other single to come from their second album Engle—helped their album Sehnsucht earn a platinum certification in the US. This made history, as it became the first German-language album to reach those sales figures in the US.
To them, the track is symbolic of band loyalty. Rather than going out and trying to find someone else, it’s a clear reminder that the band is their family and they don’t want to break that up for anything.
In the end, singles like Du Hast and Engle cemented their place as one of the biggest international metal bands of the 90s and 2000s, as well as pushing the Neue Deutsche Härte genre onto the global stage.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.