Germany Germany over all? – well … only the twice for now

In the second of our occasional series.  Webmaster Phil looks at another of the so-called Big 5, Germany, and their recent form (or lack thereof).

NDR logoConsidering Spain seem to have lost their way in this contest, I thought it was high time to examine another one of the Big 5.  Arguably the biggest of them all.

Germany’s recent history in the Eurovision is something akin to a rollercoaster, rather than a smooth upward curve.

Under the stewardship of NDR – and in 1994-5, MDR – German Eurovision fortunes hit rock bottom in 1995.  Stone and Stone scored a massive ONE point.

At this time, the Germans headed up the Eurovision Reference Committee, so this went down quite badly. German Eurovision boss Jurgen Meier-Beer demanded change. First up, he put a different broadcaster in charge of the song choice. He then pushed for a pre-selection competition to ‘trim the fat’ ahead of the 1996 contest. This, in theory, guaranteed German (and other big countries) participation for that (and future) years.

Sadly, the combined might of the juries did away with that notion. The Germans, it is said, finished in 24th place, meaning lots of head scratching at NDR towers.

What could they do?

In the first recorded case of buying the contest, they instigated ‘The Big 4 Rule’, whereby some countries couldn’t be relegated because they ploughed in loads of Deutsche Marks and, latterly, Euro.

Alles gut? – well … sort of.

Enter Raab

To start this brave new welt, it was decided that 1997 would be the year of the past with Siegel and Meinunger and a ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ winner.  That turned out not to be a good idea. 1998 then, would be the real start of the new world order. But who to lead them into Eurovision glory? Enter stage left, Stefan Raab.

Stefan RaabRaab, seen by German media as the ‘anti Siegel’, entered ‘shock singer’ Guildo Horn. From then on, the page turned. Raab and Siegel traded  blows like prize fighters through the ups and downs of the early 2000’s – Siegel and Meinunger had most of the lows. Raab stepped away from the contest in 2004, citing boredom. His era culminated in Gracia and her 4 points in 2005.

Without Raab at the helm, Germany suffered again. A last place, three dismal 20-somethings and a 14th followed. Not even the appearance of Dita Von Teese and her minge of destiny could help. By 2010, ARD had to ask Raab back. He reclaimed the crown and, finally, got to run the selection as he saw fit. The ‘Unser Song’ format yielded immediate results in the form of Germany’s second win with Lena.

Back on form?

Image result for lena meyer-landrutLena was so good, they invited her back in 2011 to defend her crown (she didn’t make it two-in-a-row). Brainpool, Raab’s own production company, have run the show ever since.  To date, eighth place is their best result in 2012. There have been two consecutive last place finishes.

Germany have deep-seated problems.  68 points in the last four years. Just four top-ten finishes in the last 14. ARD and NDR need to change something. Unlike Spanish TVE, German broadcasters have been willing to try new ideas.

Unser song GermanyUnser Song has, in the main, not worked. Yes, it got a winner in its first year. Since then  results show that either the juries have voted against the clearly popular songs (2013), or the complicated knock-out format (introduced for 2014 and 2015) has not produced the desired result. Despite this, Brainpool (or NDR) think that the format remains a winner and produces the best song.  It doesn’t. It  produces the least worst song.  The broadcaster’s input leads to a song that they know won’t win the Eurovision. They do this because (as one of the big five) their chosen entry has an easy path to the Eurovision Song Contest final.

A rule change for the national final in 2016 reintroduced a first round and super final, but this exposed another flaw. The poor quality of the songs. This isn’t a new phenomenon – nor is it exclusive to Germany. Since 2012, German songs have been underwhelming and uninspiring.

Scandal and mismanagement

Unser Song has not been without incident. In 2015, the winner, Andreas Kummer refused to go live on air in front of an agog audience. He insisted he was ‘not in the right place mentally’ to win. Runner-up Ann Sophie was left to go in his place with a song that even the Germans didn’t want to send to Eurovision. The last place result was only to be expected.

Xavier Naidoo was  picked as the representative in 2016, only to be removed for being a racist homophobe.

Despite these two spectacular failures, German TV will stick to this format for 2017.

A losing battle for Germany

Considering that the broadcaster courts German record companies for entries, it is hard to see why any would be willing to enter without a lot of coercion from NDR.

Look at it from their point of view. They have no guarantee of a victory in the national final, or even a place in the final. Even if they do win, they have to pay out to promote the song themselves. Two dismal failures means there is a lack of home interest. The average German viewer believes that their song is bound to do badly. The artist gets hardly any international coverage. The record companies are convinced everyone hates the German Eurovision entry, so why bother?

If NDR are not careful they could end up like the BBC – trapped in a self-fulfilling loop, convinced that the contest is against you, whereas the truth is much closer to home.

The German national final needs to go back to a single show with decent songs.  Get back out to the record companies and assure them that they have a chance. Stop pedaling any notion that international promotion won’t work  … because it does. Get back to what the Germans do best. Good songs, presented well in a national final … in an arena. A national final that shows you are serious, and one that keeps viewer interest high.

NDR knows that when a good song comes around, viewing figures are high. When they enter poor songs no one cares. Get the good songs in, no matter what it takes, but for pities sake make sure they are showcased at their best.

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7 years ago

Between NDR(German) and TVE(Spain), I think that NDR takes the contest seriously enough. But a misfortune of events give them bad results.
I don’t think they deserved last place in 2015 and 2016 but on both years there were better songs with better packages, that overshadowed their songs and led them to end where they ended.

I think that NDR do need to look at what they are willing to do on the way to the contest, so the song they sent will get a maximum exposure in order to gained interest.