In a new series of articles, we begin to discuss the results of Eurovision 2017 and analyse where it went wrong for some countries, where it went right and ultimately what lessons we can take from another surprising year in the contest’s lifespan. Any opinions expressed in this, or any other upcoming articles with this disclaimer, represent only those of the respective authors and do not represent the views of escYOUnited as a whole, the EBU or other Eurovision fans and sites.
It’s 2009. Germany have just suffered another embarassing set-back at the Eurovision Song Contest, albeit not as bad as the previous year. The ‘big’ names had failed again, although Dita von Teese’s cameo and Alex C spearheading the entry were not exactly names to set the pulses racing.
It had been far too long since this fiercely proud and otherwise powerful European nation had shown up at Eurovision; no top fives since Stefan Raab in 2000 and even trying every genre under the sun had not yielded results. It was time to shake up the process. For 2010, Stefan Raab was brought back in, with a little private influence, and Unser Star was born.
It was immediately and astonishingly successful; young, hungry artists fought to represent their nation with Lena Mayer-Landrut being the ultimate winner. Her prize; a trip to Norway to represent her country with a modern, yet simple and catchy song about love. It was to be Germany’s second Eurovision win, and suddenly everything was looking up for the contest, both domestically and abroad. A country like Germany had set a new tone for Eurovision and a guide to follow. The other Big 5, as they became known, and the rest of Western Europe, suddenly had to sit up and realise this was no longer the East’s new plaything.
Two more top ten results followed, and Germany had found their groove. 2013 beckoned with promises of even more success, as famous acts and more reputable artists begun to take notice of Eurovision again. Cascada won the national final and were by far the biggest act of the time to represent the nation. But it all went wrong – the staging did not work, the performance was out of time and not up to standard, the song worked with fans, but apparently not with the public.
A minor blip though – and sure enough, the talented and famous came back for 2014. Germany had opted for a new wildcard round to go back to the roots of Unser Song, but this ultimately led to the downfall of the selection. As many fans and press told me in Kyiv, the notion of underdogs going against the big famous artists in Germany can create a dangerous voting pattern. And in a bewildering move, ARD had opted for knockout rounds and a final 1 v 1 vote to solidify this point.
The underdog had won, and folksy girl group Elaiza had gone from wildcards to Eurovision alumni. They fared slightly better than Cascada had before them, but Germany had surely wasted many wonderful opportunities to stand out in Copenhagen.
Since then, a similar format has been used in Germany with face-off rounds and multiple eliminations. And since 2014, the Germans have amassed 17 points in total, with two last places and this year’s result in Kyiv not raising many more German smiles. So where has it gone so wrong, and how does Germany prevent this rot?
So where next?
Can it be blamed on the wildcards and new talent? Of course not, but it’s surprising how little the German entries have offered over the last few years after such a promising rebirth with Lena. Our editors had a few things to say about how to fix the problems with Germany in Eurovision and what exactly had gone wrong;
Zack: “Germany went wrong with assuming that an interesting entrance was all they needed to save the entire three minute performance. They took a likeable and talented young woman and made her a stick in the mud on stage. Worse, the German delegation seemed to ignore all criticisms about the song and staging and proceed as is. They can fix their problems by taking a step back, consider what has made their past songs and stagings so successful, and build off of that.”
Robert: “Germany have decided to send effectively the same song and artist to the past three contests. Is it any wonder that they keep doing badly? This year’s selection was a mess; multiple rounds to narrow down song and artist choice, as opposed to a more typical artist and song selection. Once again we ended up with a young, little known, female artist singing a ballad. Once again, they ended up at the bottom of the scoreboard. It’s becoming too predictable, Germany. They need to step back, sort out their options and come back with something that is not trying to be the next Lena… Maybe a year or two of internal selections would help them sort things out?”
Matt: “Germany (aka the broadcaster/those in charge) don’t get Eurovision. Only when the private channel Pro 7 got involved is when we ended up in the Top 10. Once they took over again in 2013, we flopped. They don’t listen to advice and suggestions, they have a cocky attitude at Eurovision and unless management changes, nothing is going to happen.”
Sean: “The problem with Germany is their selection process has overcomplicated a very simple task; pick a good song for Eurovision. Perhaps there is too much of an underdog complex in the country, but with a format that doesn’t necessarily let the best songs pass to the final, German citizens are left to pick from the least offensive entries. A little bit of risk and a more open selection might see a more striking choice – and it’s better to divide in Eurovision than for everyone to say “it’s not bad”.
Calvin: “During Eurovision, Germany did everything possible to avoid last place, and it worked. The live vocal was fine, and the broadcaster nailed the visual element. Germany’s problems started earlier with a national final format that precluded songs and singers being matched up well and had several rounds encouraging “anti-voting.” Levina is a solid performer who can rise to great material (“Stop Right There”), and “Perfect Life” is a blank slate of a song that rises to its performer. Together, they were an inoffensive, dull package. To improve from here, Germany needs to let singers enter the national final with their material and create a more straightforward national final format without “anti-voting” rounds. This way, performers will be more comfortable with their material, and winning songs won’t have to win by avoiding upsetting people enough to vote against them.”
What do #YOU think?
A country like Germany; otherwise a powerful, influential and well-respected country in every other factor, has stumbled along in Eurovision over the past few years. Yes, we cannot forget that it is only seven years since they last won the contest, but the happy times are becoming a more distant memory for Germany. How can Germany improve their results? Does it come from a new selection, or a better attitude from the broadcaster? Have they just been unlucky in recent years? We’d love to know what you think. Share your thoughts with us below or you can discuss Germany’s 2018 approach on the forum by clicking here.