What are some bands/songs that are good to learn vocabulary from? I'm not particular about the genre. I would like music that is comprehensible to an absolute beginner (I'm still fairly new to German grammar and sentence structure and my vocabulary is almost nonexistent) and that does not contain regional dialect.
I'm a big fan of Die Ärzte - they use lots of different musical styles and their lyrics have a broad range from mindlessly funny to very sociocritical.
They're from Berlin and there's the occasional song that is "peppered" with the respective dialect, but they're mostly singing standard German. Lots of young people like their songs, even though the band has been in business for 30 years now.
I would recommend Max Raabe & Palast Orchester. He sings songs from the 1920s, 1930s and some contemporary ones, but all in the style from the two decades. He sings and speaks in a very clear German. The songs often carry a sense of humour which is not conveyed through fancy usage of the language but more through the meaning. I think his music can help you learn the right pronunciation (since he emphasizes a clear pronunciation), lets you enjoy the simple fun of the the last century, and is easy to understand. Some words are old-fashioned, though.
Herbert Grönemeyer does some deeply lyrical and philosophical stuff, makes beautiful music and has produced quite some classics, but unfortunately, you'll need the lyrics book nearby even as a native speaker, as he is the archetype of a mumbler.
Edit: He also uses lots of symbolic language, so he's maybe not first choice for a beginner, but definitely interesting if you want do delve deeper...
Reinhard Mey would be a good choice from a language learner's point of view. Some people find him a bit bland and un-exciting but his diction is always faultless and clear. The qualities of Mey's deceptively simple style become clearer when you compare him to some of the names mentioned here. Worst of all are Silbermond. It simply isn't enough to pronounce individual words "right" (= free of dialect), as their benighted singer does. You have to get prosody right, too. This is where Silbermond and fellow incompetents Rosenstolz fall down. Listening to them is actually harmful to language learners.
Looking at past winners of the Echo awards, a few names stand out as being useful to language learners:
Roger Cicero (easily can hold his own against a big band going at full swing)
I agree with others that Grönemeyer slurs his words and therefore may not be a good choice for beginner students of German to listen to. The same goes for Udo Lindenberg and to a lesser extent for Peter Fox; however, all three are major artists.
German is at bottom a barbarian language, lacking refinement, and sometimes brutally crass in its expression. Although in the intervening centuries since Martin Luther much has been grafted on to make it more suited to "high culture", a few singer-songwriters still cultivate its earthy roots, muddy workboots and calloused hands. One such maverick is Rummelsnuff, watch his Der Heizer video on YT.
(Agree with the plaudits for Max Raabe and Annett Louisan, by the way.)
Ich würde grundsätzlich vom Vorhaben abraten. Lyrik und Songtexte werden im Idealfall von Meistern der Sprache geschaffen, die im jeden dritten Satz eine Regel verletzen, und damit eventuell neue Sprache prägen in dem sie Grenzen überschreiten, aber um dem zu folgen muss man die Sprache schon recht gut kennen.
In dieser Textform wird, um dem Versmaß zu entsprechen, oft ungewöhnlicher Satzbau verwendet sowie Wörter und Silben unterschlagen.
Bei Musik kommt verschärfend hinzu, dass man ohne Textbuch oft aufgeschmissen ist, und nicht versteht, was gesungen wird. Gut - das Textbuch ist kein echtes Problem mit Google plus Schlüsselwort "Lyrics". Wieso dann aber nicht gleich Lyrik?
Hier ist Rangehen von Nina Hagen, hier Ulla Meinickes Die Tänzerin, Sympathie für den Teufel von Udo Lindenberg, bei dem das engl. Original sicher bekannt ist. Eher eine sprachliche Herausforderung dürfte Brandenburgs Ikarus von Wolf Biermann sein.
Sicher kann man da überall unbekannte Vokabeln nachschlagen, und wenn die Musik gefällt, dann lernen sich diese wohl leichter.
Hier hätte ich noch etwas sehr subtiles von den Phudys, Geh zu ihr und ein weiteres Nichtoriginal, Es war Sommer mit Peter Maffay und zum Abschluß noch eine Frau, Annette Humpe mit Ideal, Ich steh auf Berlin . :)
I would definitely recommend following the Herbert Grönemeyer approach after you have covered the basics. It's really worth it. Also if you want to train yourself in understanding some fast German, you should seriously consider rap (not hiphop) music. I've lived in another country for 13 years and because of this rap music, I am still able to talk/understand German perfectly.
I would recommend that.