Album Review: Mark Forster – Liebe

The German and Polish singer Mark Ćwiertnia, known by his artist name Mark Forster, presents a fresh take by offering an average image in the music industry: With an easy-going vibe wearing cap and glasses he looks like the typical guy next door you may went to school with.

Once a dropout law student, he finished business studies instead, having first an office job at a TV production firm, went with the flow of his surroundings until he broke the habit, devoting himself to music eventually. His 2012 album ‘Karton’ (eng.: cardboard box) was, according to Mark himself, ‘ok for a debut’ but hoped for a bigger success. In retrospect, he was glad how it turned out as he was able to make a tour without any pressure of fame. Furthermore, his debut caught the attention of rapper Sido, who liked his style and wanted to work with him. They eventually collabed in ‘Au Revoir’, his first top 10 hit as a solo artist. Supported by his second album ‘Bauch und Kopf’ (eng.: stomach and head), Mark slowly but surely rose to the top of the charts, becoming the new rising star in German-speaking Europe. His success continued with third album ‘Tape’, known for ‘Chöre’ (eng.: choirs) and single ‘Kogong’ – a word he used to describe the sound of heartbeats. Now he returns with ‘Liebe’, simply meaning ‘Love’. As the title suspects, the album is filled with songs that appreciate the love he receives from his surroundings.

In addition being successful with TV gigs, being a judge on The Voice Kids and The Voice of Germany while also selling out concert dates for 2019, the question remains if Mark will or can broaden his horizon outside of his homeland. As there is already a craze about Korean pop artists like BTS, this may will open doors for other acts who perform in their native language. Let’s find out if ‘Liebe’, a German-language album, might also have a chance to make an international impact.

Official Music Video for Lead Single ‘Einmal’.

Mark announces his Comeback with the opener of the same name. With flashy beats the hook introduces a fresh start, unifying his past and present, ready for the future. ‘Einmal’, the second track and official first single of the album, continues the fashion and stays nostalgic about life – from heartbeats of a first love to vomiting at a traffic light from too much tequila. Mark sings about the worthy once-in-a-lifetime moments, while voices of kids sing the word ‘Einmal’ (eng.: one time). Similar goes album titled ‘Liebe’ – appreciating love as there is ‘nothing that’s more important’ and ‘nothing greater’.

Another theme of the album is definitely traveling. Starting out with track number 5, pointing out his love in backpacking fashion in ‘149 Länder’ (eng.: 149 countries). As he traveled to Uganda for this album he collaborated with Ugandese singers Maro and Maurice Kirya in ‘Chip In’. African sounds blend in a cultural mix in German, Swahili, and English.

Official Video for ‘Chip In’ (featuring Maro & Maurice Kirya).

His newfound love for Uganda is not only limited in ‘Chip In’, but the African Children’s Choir from Uganda is present in other songs from the album too, like already mentioned ‘Einmal’, as well as highlight-track ‘Nimmerland’ (eng. Neverland). The kids support the playful chorus about staying young and true to their ambition, with Forster singing in German: ‘Do you still remember my thing as a kid? Ey, I’m still doing that today!‘, followed by the chant of the kid’s choir to ‘never grow, never grow up’. As playful as ever, Mark mentions to not be Captain Hook while being in Neverland. The fun lyrics remind of not stressing too much about adult life, and to let go a free spirit.

Another highlight is ‘747’, the most catchy tune of the album, using Boeing 747 as an example of continuing to fly away, seeing the world and staying active in life. The hook is perfectly singalong like, and the lyrics remind of freedom in life you can’t borrow.

As catchy as ‘747’ is also ‘Killer’, a story of finding the perfect girl in a bar: ‘Killer, I love you so ice cold!’, he sings in German, admitting being shy as he ‘is standing around like Jerry Lewis’ while approaching the girl, saying nothing and making so-called ‘face ballet’.

For his fourth album, he also featured a rap feature in ‘Danke Danke’ (eng.: thank you thank you). None other than Sido takes over the second verse with typical funny thank you’s to his crazy and drunk past, and completes with a thanks to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The album’s theme continues with gratefulness and different ways of love. Typical for Mark Forster, he discusses own life-chapters, inspiring the listener about his motivations that pulled him through life, but also highlighting failures. Like in ‘Was Du Nicht Tust’, what literally translates to ‘what you’re not doing’: Examples of negative chapters of his upbringing: Not kissing the girl, not stopping his father from leaving his family, or quitting the soccer team because of a knee injury. The track shares stories and anecdotes, reminding the listener in the hook that you are not regretting what you do but you regret what you are not doing. In comparison to the more happy songs from other tracks of the album, ‘Was Du Nicht Tust’ drags sadness in a life-lesson-package with acoustic guitar, while the African Children’s Choir reminds the listener in English that ‘It’s never too late!’

Contrariwise, ‘Genau Wie Du’ acts as the most heartwarming track of the album. The acoustic song is an ode to Mark’s father, using examples of his character traits exclaiming to his dad he is ‘exactly like you’ in many ways.

Right towards the ending of the album, ‘Liebe’ stumbles on ‘Irgendwann Happy’. Mark there reveals that he is still looking for happiness, searching to ‘someday be happy’, and afterwards ending with ‘Gerade Jetzt’ (eng.: right now) summarizing the entire album’s lyrical content, going back to the past, a positive outlook to all what he experienced, enjoying the moment ‘right now’ while also appreciating getting old one day. A Typical ‘Don’t take life too seriously and enjoy the moment’ – moment.

Backstage Acoustic Session of ‘Einmal’.

What’s noticeable about Mark Forster is his out-of-nowhere capability of becoming larger than life when singing his flashy pop and hip-hop tunes with deep and thoughtful lyrics and smooth vocals. The concept of his work is supported by his street smarts and German slang mixed with English words now and then. Mark therefore invites the listener to his world using own experiences of life, love, friendship, and family – giving away a piece of his own, with intentions to inspire other people. Therefore, it’s not impossible for him to reach a large crowd outside of German-speaking countries but depends if he’s aiming for that goal. Similar to Belgian musician Stromae who reached non-francophone countries with his French songs (‘Alors on Danse’, ‘Papaoutai’), there is, in fact, the possibility to dig deeper in other territories for him as well. Not forgetting that he already puts an international spin in his new effort ‘Liebe’, Mark’s intentions could eventually break through. His songs are catchy and believable enough, so only time will tell.

Banger Tracks:

Other Highlights:
Chip In
Was Du Nicht Tust
Genau Wie du

Full Track List:

1. Comeback
2. Einmal
3. Liebe
4. Was Du Nicht Tust
5. 194 Länder
6. 747
7. Danke Danke (feat. Sido)
8. Nimmerland
9. Killer
10. Genau Wie Du
11. Chip In (feat. Maro & Maurice Kirya)
12. Irgendwann Happy
13. Gerade Jetzt

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