Germany’s Eurovision 2020 Entry

Germany has finished no better than 25th in four of the last five Eurovision Song Contests. Sensing that their national selection process was no longer doing them any favors (Michael Schulte’s 4th place finish in 2018 notwithstanding), they opted for an internal selection this year and decided to get hip with the kids by serving up a nightclub banger.

We’re in our late 40s, so we’re not sure we got the terminology right. This is the type of song they’d play in a nightclub, right? When the kids want to dance? And stalk a hot girl they’ve never met before?

Ben Dolic is a singer from Slovenia who was the runner-up on the eighth season of The Voice of Germany. He was in the band D Base, which participated in EMA 2016 with  “Spet živ.” His song “Violent Thing” was penned by a slew of songwriters, including Symphonix International’s Borislav Milanov.

So let’s start with the title. If we’re reading this right, “Violent Thing” is meant to be a compliment about the object of affection’s dancing. Unfortunately, all that does is make us imagine Nomi Malone in Showgirls.

While we appreciate Germany’s change in direction at Eurovision, we’re kind of struggling to get into this one. The disco trappings of the production strip out any levels to “Violent Thing,” leaving Ben no way to build the song. It gets monotonous.

The acoustic version Ben performed during Unser Lied für Rotterdam gives us a bit of hope. He showed how he can sell “Violent Thing” and bring it home. Unfortunately, this may mean he needs to scream over an overproduced orchestration to get his point across. Here’s hoping he can pull it off.

Germany’s Eurovision 2019 Entry

Do you like Frozen? Would you like to hear a song that sounds like it was cut from the Broadway version of Frozen? Germany has got you covered.

S!sters were formed to compete at this year’s Unser Lied. Carlotta Truman was a finalist on The Voice Kids in 2014. Laurita Spinelli (no relation to Carlotta) won a competition called Kiddy Contest in 2010 and is currently one of Lena’s backing singers. Their song “Sister” was co-written by Laurell Barker, Thomas Stengaard, Marine Kaltenbacher, and Tom Oehler. Those first two names may sound familiar: Laurell co-wrote this year’s United Kingdom entry “Bigger Than Us,” while Thomas co-wrote last year’s Germany entry “You Let Me Walk Alone.”

“Sister” is about two sisters who reunite after many years of bad blood. The second verse begins, “I’m sorry/Sorry for the drama,” but are they really? S!sters emote the living daylights out of their song. It’s all a bit much. We were no fans of Michael Schulte’s song last year, but at least he was drawing on some genuine emotion by telling his own story. “Sister” replaces emotion with theatrics. It’s all show and it leaves us cold.

Germany’s Eurovision 2018 Entry

Give us a second, you all. Michael Schulte is making us cry.

Michael Schulte finished third on the first season of The Voice of Germany. His first single “Carry Me Home” was a top 10 hit in Germany in 2012. He co-wrote “You Let Me Walk Alone” with Thomas Stengaard (who co-wrote “Only Teardrops”), Nisse Ingwersen, and Nina Müller.

The lyrics are a tribute to Michael’s late father and not surprisingly, Michael gave a touching performance at Unser Lied für Lissabon. It’s not hard to understand why the two judging panels and the televoters all gave him top marks.

Unfortunately, we found the music to be gratingly schmaltzy. Maybe that’s a bit unfair of us: what other kind of music would we expect to accompany the lyrics, speed metal? But it’s the type of song that we expect to hear in a commercial advertising a very special episode of a television dramedy. It’s music to accompany something else, not to stand on its own. As warm as we found the lyrics to “You Let Me Walk Alone,” we are left feeling cold by the song as a whole.

Germany’s Eurovision 2017 Entry

Levina won Unser Song 2017 and will represent Germany at Eurovision with “Perfect Life.”

Born in Bonn, Isabella Levina Lueen is studying music management at the London College of Music and she competed against four other singers at Germany’s national final. Thanks to the complex structure of Unser Song, she ended up competing against herself in the last round to determine which song would represent Germany, “Wildfire” or “Perfect Life.”

Levina is a good singer, and goodness knows she tries to sell “Perfect Life” as best she can. But this middle of the road adult contemporary number doesn’t strike us as one that will compel Eurovision viewers to pick up their phones and vote. Germany has had a bad run of form at the Song Contest for the past two years, and we can’t see how this is going to reverse its fortunes. Better luck next year.

Eurovision 2016 Round-Up: Leap Year Edition

It’s a good thing it’s Leap Year, because we need an extra day to process all of the songs chosen for Eurovision this weekend!

Finland: Sandhja – “Sing It Away”

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party candidate for President and Sandhja’s European jazz festival closer is going to represent Finland at Eurovision and I do not understand the world anymore.

Hungary: Freddie – “Pioneer”

We are Eurovision hipsters, so A Dal is of course our favorite national selection competition these days. There were eight songs in the A Dal final, and we felt that the four super finalists would ably represent Hungary in Stockholm. Coming out of the semis, we thought Freddie would not only finish top 5 at Eurovision, but even take the crown. His performance in the final was a bit rougher, so we’re not quite ready to proclaim him the champion yet. But his husky voice and rugged good looks may make him very popular in Sweden.

Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 Round-Up: Leap Year Edition”

Germany’s Eurovision 2015 Entry

Germany’s choice for Eurovision is Andreas Kümmert. UH WAIT, HOLD EVERYTHING. Andreas Kümmert’s choice for Eurovision is Ann Sophie!

In one of the strangest plot twists you’ll ever see on live television, the publicly-voted-on winner of Unser Song für Österrich said, “I’m just a small singer… the runner up is a much more appropriate choice than me,” gave the second place finisher a hug, and walked off the stage.

And there you have it. Germany’s Song For Europe is Ann Sophie and “Black Smoke”:

“Black Smoke” is a mid-tempo, adult contemporary R&B ballad. It’s got a good hook and coherent lyrics (courtesy of British/Australian songwriters), and Ann Sophie punctuates the chorus with some big notes. It’s a cool song, we like it.

Ann Sophie was the wild card at Unser Song, the one spot reserved for an unsigned artist with public support, competing against a set of signed artists. She’s green and that inexperience betrayed itself in the super final, where she gave a somewhat ropey performance, seemingly overwhelmed by the wave of the competition. Add to the mix some unfortunate Lena-like English pronunciations and we started asking whether she knows who she is as an artist and worrying that she might crumble under the pressure of the big contest.

Our fears were somewhat allayed by what followed after. She handled the craziness of Andreas’ live announcement and the press conference that followed with class and poise. She’s also fluent in English. Ann will be a sympathetic figure to the Eurovision fanatics and we have no doubt she will be a favorite in the media center in Vienna.

But that won’t matter to the folks watching at home. Folks at home will see a cute girl with brown hair and brown eyes singing a not-bad-at-all song with some strange English affectations. She comes off kind of amateurish, running on adrenaline, with some awkward dance moves. It reminds us of that other girl who won a few years ago. Wasn’t she from Germany too?

STRAY OBSERVATIONS: The back story will weigh heaviest on Ann Sophie. Every artist battles the demons: Do I have talent? Do people like me? There’s a lot of rejection, and there’s always doubt. Self-confidence is a must. In the dark moments, she’ll always know that she came second. But being the wild card counts for something. Showing grace under pressure also counts for something. We hope she’ll be able to focus on the positives and make the absolute most of her experience in Vienna.

Germany’s Eurovision 2014 Entry

Elaiza has been picked to represent Germany at Eurovision in Copenhagen with “Is It Right”:

Before Unser Song für Dänemark, the producers held an open call for artists. Over two thousand acts applied, and the producers picked 10 artists to compete in a wild card show. Elaiza won that show, which gave them a chance to compete in the Unser Song final against seven established artists, including 2010 Bundesvision Song Contest winner Unheilig.

Given that, Elaiza looked more like buskers than seasoned performers. Of course, we might have gotten that feeling from one of their Unser Song video packages, where they were performing in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

MAKE THE BEAR DANCE, ELAIZA!

Going with fresh-faced, unpolished acts has brought Germany Eurovision success in recent years, and after getting away from that in 2013, Germany is back on track. Elaiza’s combo of accordion and upright bass is cool, and they have a charismatic lead singer in Elzbieta Steinmetz. “Is It Right” has a minimalist arrangement and a funky, folksy style that gives off a steampunk vibe. It has a catchy hook that stands out and Steinmetz sings it for all her worth. I’m not sure it’s a song I am going to play on heavy rotation when we get the Eurovision 2014 album, but I think it will play well on the Eurovision stage.

Germany’s Eurovision 2013 Entry

Germany has selected Cascada and “Glorious” as its entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Cascada are an established eurodance band that has had two platinum hits in the U.S. with “Everytime We Touch” and “Evacuate the Dancefloor.” “Glorious” is completely in their wheelhouse of upbeat poppy dance music, with a hint of Eurovision-ness during that chorus.

Like any good dance song, the lyrics are ridiculously banal. “We can set the world on fire?” Please. But this sort of giddy positivity plays well at Eurovision, and given that they’ve had chart success across Europe fairly recently, we’re expecting Cascada to deliver Germany another top 10 finish.

This year’s Unser Song für Malmö was a let-down after three solid years of German selection shows. Most of the songs were unmemorable, even the one with the singing priests. (“Wohin gehst du, mit deinem Fesseln im Wind?”) The only other act that made an impact with us was LaBrassBanda with “Nackert,” and we apparently weren’t alone in our thinking: “Nackert” finished second.

Germany’s Eurovision 2012 Entry

Deutschland’s Star für Baku ist Roman Lob mit “Standing Still.”

It sounds vaguely like a Jamie Cullum number, and for good reason: Jamie Cullum co-wrote it. Roman is charismatic enough and sounds good. The sound is lovely and contemporary. It’s all good, but for me, it sort of lacks that it factor, that instantaneous grip that a song needs to get a voter’s attention on first listen. Of course, I argued that “Satellite” didn’t have that, and neither of us thought “Running Scared” had that either, so what do I know.

It’s not like any of the other songs that have made much of an impact so far, anyway. To quote what Boom Bang a Blog’s Jamie McLoughlin  tweeted today: “Switzerland’s song sounds better with every passing national final.” There’s still a lot of songs left to be determined, of course, but so far “Standing Still” is shaping up to be a bit of contender.

Germany’s Eurovision 2011 Entry

As expected (by us and the bookies at least), Germany has selected “Taken by a Stranger” as the song Lena will sing to defend her Eurovision title. It’s a cool, moody song, and it was by the far the best of the songs presented on Unser Song Für Deutschland.  But it is so far removed from the usual Eurovision fare that it is almost daring Europe to accept the brave new world of contemporary music in the Song Contest.

While it’s hard to predict how well this is going to do in May, we are certain about one thing: they need to lose the back-up dancers.