Category Archives: Germany

Germany starts to pick “Unser Star für Baku”!

Last night, ten hopeful candidates helped kick off Germany’s national selection process for Eurovision 2012.  Much like the process that helped launch Lena Meyer-Landrut into stardom two years ago (has it really been two years already?), “Unser Star für Baku” will put singers through their paces as they sing covers during a number of heats, quarterfinals, and semifinals, before culminating in a Final (where we’ll likely hear the possible songs for the ESC) on February 16th.  Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 3)

Skipping France and their internal selection, next on our list is:

Georgia: Eldrine’s “One More Day” was definitely one of the most divisive songs in this year’s Eurovision roster.  People either adored this nu-metal track or despised it with the passion of a thousand suns.  (Lucky for me, I was in the former camp, and relished the moment when Sopho and company held an impromptu acoustic jam session in the Press Center.)  Eldrine was my favorite act from the Georgian preselection, even with their previous lead singer Tako Vadachkoria, but my second favorite had to be Temo Sajaia, who performed “Jarisk’atsis Simghera (Soldier’s Song)”: 

Temo’s stage presence might have been a bit dry, but considering that there was a span of about three months to give his presentation a bit more “oomph”, it could have been a pleasant surprise.  Plus, none of the nation’s entries have ever been sung in Georgian, nor have any entries been performed exclusively by a male vocalist.  It took me until moderately recently to find an English translation for “Jarisk’atsis Simghera”, but it actually has a pretty strong nationalistic bent, with lyrics like “We believe in Georgian immortals/ In the hopes in your eyes and/ We believe in happiness, in beauty/ In no surrender and in victory”.  It’s maybe a bit more subtle than “I Love Belarus”, but not quite as easy to sing along with…

Germany:  With 79% of the final vote during “Unser Song für Deutschland”, there was no doubt that “Taken By a Stranger” would be the song that Lena would use to defend her Eurovision title.  Compared to the eleven other songs in contention, it was truly a standout, both in style and in quality.  While most of the also-rans (all available on Lena’s second album, “Good News”) seemed to be a general continuation of the bubbly and youthful motif we all saw in “Satellite”, “TBaS” seemed to be more of an evolution in who Lena Meyer-Landrut is, both as an artist and as a person.  I know a lot of people were fans of runner-up “Push Forward“, but for me, my second favorite was the sweetly simple “Maybe”, which was actually written by the same team (Daniel Schaub & Pär Lammers):

I was also a fan of the big, brassy “Mama Told Me“, which had Stefan Raab’s signature style written all over it (probably because he co-wrote the song with Lena herself).

Greece: Most devoted Eurovison fans were slightly bewildered when Loukas Giorkas and Stereo Mike’s rap/laiko fusion number “Watch My Dance” was pulled out of the envelope during the Greek National Final.  It even took me a while to warm up to it (although actually hanging out with Mike, Loukas, and the rest of the delegation from ERT, as well as seeing how epic the final staging turned out to be…by the time the semifinals rolled around, I was beginning to really enjoy this one).  Most people had tipped the Canadian-born X-Factor alumna Nikki Ponte to take the night with her song “I Don’t Wanna Dance”:

Looking beyond the two front-runners in this competition, I was also a fan of the bouncy “Hamogela (Smile)” by Trimitonio:

Hungary picked their song internally, so we move on to:

Iceland:  By now, we all know about the tragic story behind Sjónni’s Friends and the song “Coming Home“.  The six gentlemen on stage (as well as Sjónni’s wife Thorunn) were fixtures in the Press Center and Euroclub, and they were truly some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.  Their voices were heard harmonizing so often, you could nearly set your watch by it, and I proudly waved the Icelandic flag during the First Semifinal.  This song became such an integral part of my experience in Düsseldorf that it almost feels like a betrayal to even consider that another tune could have been in its place.  But there were, in fact, fourteen other entries in the running to represent Iceland this year, including fan favorite “Nótt (Night)” by 2009 runner-up Yohanna.  My other personal favorites, however, were Magni Ásgeirsson’s “Ég trúi á betra líf (I want a better life)” and Jógvan Hansen’s “Ég lofa (I promise)”:

Coming up next time: Ireland, Israel, Italy, and Latvia!

Lena’s been "Taken By a Stranger"!

After an exciting final, we finally know which song Lena Meyer-Landrut will be presenting on the home stage in Düsseldorf…

…drumroll please?

And the winner is “Taken By a Stranger“, written by the American songwriting team of Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier, and Monica Birkenes.  (Incidentally, last year’s winning song for Germany, “Satellite”, was written by an American/Danish team.)  This surprisingly understated electropop number was a huge favorite among the German audience and foreign Eurofans alike, although it’s not without its detractors.  I think it plays into Lena’s quirky style quite nicely!  It’s interesting to envision the stalker-ish images that come up in “Taken By a Stranger” next to the puppy-love sweetness of “Satellite”…

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the German broadcasters are pretty stringent on what gets to stay up on YouTube, so you might have to check out the official network webpage for the National Final performances of “Taken By a Stranger” and runner-up “Push Forward”.

(Update: Found one!)

The Weekend Preview, 2/18

And another big weekend kicks off for Eurofans everywhere!

First, we’ve got the Finals of “Unser Song Für Deutschland”, Germany‘s national final.  Lena will sing the six remaining songs from the two semifinals, and within the next few hours we should know the song that will represent the home country this year.  And the finalists are:
Maybe (Daniel Schaub, Pär Lammers) 
Taken by a Stranger (Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier, Monica Birkenes) 
What happened to me (Lena Meyer-Landrut, Stefan Raab) 
A million and one (Errol Rennalls, Stavros Ioannou) 
Push forward (Daniel Schaub, Pär Lammers) 
Mama told me (Lena Meyer-Landrut, Stefan Raab)

Also tonight, Spain will select their Song/Singer combination.  Last week, the performers were narrowed down to Lucía Pérez, Melissa, or boy-band Auryn.  Each act will perform three unique songs each, and after a 50/50 jury/audience vote, we will know who will carry the Spanish flag to Düsseldorf!

El sol brillará (Rafael de Alba)
Evangelyne (Kjell Jennstig, Dejan Belgrenius & Kristin Molin)
Volver (Primoz Poglajen, Jonas Gladnikoff, Camilla Gottschalck & Christina Schilling)
Lucía Pérez:
Abrázame (Antonio Sánchez-Ohlsson & Thomas G.son)
C’est la vie! It’s allright (W&M, Nestor Geli, Susie Päivärinta, P. Andersson & M. Lindberg)
Que me quiten lo bailao (Rafael Artesero Herrero)
Diamonds (Nestor Geli, Susie Päivärinta, Pär Lönn)
Eos (Jesús Cañadilla & Alejandro de Pinedo)
Sueños rotos (Primoz Poglajen, Jonas Gladnikoff, Camilla Gottschalck, Christina Schilling)

On Saturday, Georgia will select their entry.  From seven entries,  only one will have the honor of becoming their nation’s fourth official Eurovision entry (fifth, if you count their withdrawn 2009 entry!).  You can listen to the songs here.
Temo Sajaia – Soldier song
Salome Korkotashvili – Love
Sweet Pills – Face to face
Dito Lagvilava and November – New day
Nini Shermadini – Rejected
The Georgians –  Loved, seen, dreaming
Eldrine – One more day

The Final official selection this weekend is expected from Italy, as the annual San Remo Festival will wrap up.  Now, rather than simply having the winner go on to compete at Eurovision, a special jury made up of local dignitaries, network officials, and one of the festival’s hosts will select the nation’s first representative in fourteen yearsSan Remo this year includes two competitions under one umbrella: one contest for up-and-coming artists and another for established stars.  It’s still unclear if the jury will select a new name or a well-known entity for their representative, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.
Anna Tatangelo – Bastardo
Anna Oxa –  La mia anima d’uomo
Luca Madonia with Franco Battiato – L’Alieno
Max Pezzali – Il mio secondo tempo
Roberto Vecchioni – Chiamami ancora amore
Tricarico –  3 colori
Albano Carrisi – Amanda è libera
Nathalie – Vivo sospesa
Modá with Emma Marrone – Arriverá
Davide Van De Sfroos – Yanez
Patty Pravo – Il vento e le rose
Giusy Ferreri – Il mare immenso
La Crus – Io confesso
Luca Barbarossa and Raquel del Rosario – Fino in fondo

(Just for the record, my favorites are Modà feat. Emma, Nathalie Giannitrapani, Giusi Ferreri, and Anna Tatangelo!)

We can also expect semifinals from Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden…phew!

Lena’s Second Semifinal in Germany

Today, Lena presented the final six candidates for her Song for Düsseldorf (also, the final six cuts on her new album, “Good News”, which is being released on February 8th…nice timing, PR people!).  After another entertaining show (including a parade of adorable outfits on Miss Meyer-Landrut), we’ve got the top three songs that will be moving on to the Finals on February 18th.

Qualifying to the next round and joining “Taken By a Stranger“, “Maybe“, and “What Happened to Me” in the finals:
A Million and One” written by Stavros Ioannou & Errol Rennalls
Push Forward” written by Daniel Schaub & Pär Lammers (who also wrote “Maybe”)
Mama Told Me” written by Stefan Raab & Lena Meyer-Landrut (who also wrote “What Happened to Me”)

Eliminated in this round were:
Teenage Girls” written by Viktoria Hansen, Lili Tarkow-Reinisch and Yacine Azeggagh
At All” written by Aloe Blacc
A Good Day” written by Audra Mae, Todd Edgar Wright and Scott Simons

Now, some rumblings have been coming up recently claiming that if either of Raab’s songs goes to Eurovision, that he should step down as host, likely to be replaced by Hape Kerkeling.  No further confirmation of this has come up, either from the EBU or the German broadcasters, so I honestly doubt that he will be forced to recuse himself as host.  Furthermore, when Belgrade hosted Eurovision back in 2008, host Željko Joksimović was the author of “Oro”, Serbia’s entry that year, with no major outcry or claims of malfeasance.  But, of course, we’ll see what happens!

Lena’s First Semifinal in Germany

As we all know, last year’s winner Lena Meyer-Landrut will be defending her title on home soil this year, and Stefan Raab is at the helm of the National Selection once more.  This time around, Lena will be competing against herself; the twelve songs up for the golden ticket are the twelve cuts off of her new album, “Good News” that will be released on February 8th.

Image source

On Monday, we heard the first six of those tracks, with three of them moving on to the next round.
1) “Good News” (written by Americans Audra Mae & Ferras Alqaisi)
2) “Maybe”(written by Germans Daniel Schaub & Pär Lammers)
3) “I Like You” (written by American Rosi Golan & Northern Ireland-born Johnny McDaid)
4) “That Again”(written by…surprise surprise…Stefan Raab)
5) “Taken By A Stranger” (written by Americans Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier, Monica Birkenes)
6) “What Happened to Me”(written by Lena and Stefan)

Normally, I’d place a link to YouTube videos of each of these songs, but Germany’s broadcaster is pretty stringent about copyright violations, and many of these videos have been taken down (or will be in the near future).  The best place to check the songs out is on the official “Unser Song für Deutschland” website here.

The winners on Monday, determined purely by a public vote, were:
“Taken By a Stranger”
“What Happened to Me”

We’ll hear the final six songs on February 7th, and the Finals will conclude on February 18th.

Eurovision 2011: Feel Your Heart Beat!

Ok, folks…this just got real!

Every year, the country that has the honor of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest gets to put their personal stamp on the event.  Through branding and design, the nation has the opportunity to make Eurovision their own!  Last year’s theme for Oslo was “Share the Moment”, which carried through not only in the advertising, but through the whole contest itself.  The “postcards” used to introduce artists showed groups of fans gathering together in the nation’s capital or largest city, and the interval act was described as the “World’s Biggest Flash Mob”, involving dancers throughout Europe, as well as in the Telenor Arena itself.  It was incredibly sweet, and I felt like it really embraced the ideals that the ESC stands for.

The official logo and motto for the 2011 Contest has just been revealed:

(Logo copyright of NDR)

According to the website, “The theme refers to the great emotions which music can evoke – and which belong to the distinctive character of the Eurovision Song Contest: enthusiasm, heart beating, excitement, love and passion.  There are no limits to these emotions, there are no language barriers. The theme also refers to the fact that every song has its individual rhythm.”  It also alludes to Lena saying “I heart you!” to her fans and supporters during an interview…ain’t she cute?

We also have the official confirmation of this year’s hosts: Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers, and Stefan Raab.  Anke is an experienced television and radio personality born in Canada, and Judith is a well-known news presenter and writer.  As lovely as Anke and Judith may be, however, Stefan Raab may the true star of the show.  He’s basically the German Mister Eurovision (or, should I say Herr Eurovision?), as he wrote the songs performed in 1998 and 2004 (you can see him as the conductor and lead guitarist, respectively, in the two performances), performed the unforgettable song from 2000, and set up the popular (and obviously fruitful) preselection for 2010, “Ünser Star für Oslo (Our Star for Oslo)”, the competition that picked Lena and “Satellite” to represent Germany.  In Oslo, he acted as Lena’s nearly-omnipresent mentor.  Raab doesn’t just sit at home and obsess about Eurovision all day long, however; this jack-of-all-trades also hosts the wildly successful “TV Total”, a comedy/variety show.  He’s also the originator of the Bundesvision Song Contest (an all-German song competition), as well as the International Wok Racing Championship.  I kid you not.

Between the 42 countries competing in this year’s event, the obvious passion that Stefan Raab has for Eurovision, and his propensity towards the ridiculous and hilarious, I have a feeling that Düsseldorf 2011 will truly be one for the ages.

And I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be there!

The Rumor Mill…

Hey, everyone!  Pardon my lapse in posting over the past month or so…what can I say?  I was a bit burnt out after this year’s Eurovision Final.  It’s sort of like having a massive holiday dinner, full of all of your favorite foods, surrounded by friends and family…after it’s all done, all you want to do is curl up and take a nap.  But I’m back on my feet, and looking forward to dishing up more ESC-tastic goodness for all of you!

(Oh, and by the way…650 readers?  Thank you all so much for stopping by!  Feel free to leave me a note in the Comments section, and let me know what you think of my little piece of the Internet.)

Anyway, even though it’s only July, and the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest is barely cold, we’re already hearing news of the 2011 edition!  Here are two confirmed bits of news (and one juicy rumor that I can only hope is true):

1) OFFICIAL:  Lena Meyer-Landrut will be defending her title for Germany in 2011.  This has been confirmed by broadcaster NDR, but no other details have been provided yet.  This will be only the third time that a winning performer returns the very next year to defend their title; the other two singers were Lys Assia coming back in 1957 and Corry Brokken in 1958.  Sadly, Lys came in 8th place out of 10 that year, and Corry came in last place…will Lena fare much better?  We have nearly a year to see…but while we wait to hear what Deutchland’s plan is, Lena’s been keeping very busy.  She just released her fourth single, “Touch a New Day” (written by Stefan Raab), and her album “My Cassette Player” has already been certified Double Platinum in Germany.

In the meantime, Germany has yet to decide where the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest will take place.  The official announcement will likely happen in December, but there are about eight cities vying for the honor, including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Lena’s hometown of Hanover.

2) OFFICIAL: The Netherlands, after their disappointing performance in Oslo, have finally washed their hands of Pierre Kartner and have decided to send the Volendam-based band 3Js to Germany next year.  They’ve had quite a few Top-10 Hits in their homeland, and sing almost exclusively in Dutch.  Here’s their most recent single, “Geloven in het Leven (Believe in Life)”:

Not bad at all!  And, at the very least, a lot better than the most recent Dutch entry.  Even better, 3Js will have their entry selected in a much more open and fair system than last year, when the song had been written beforehand, and only a small jury and in-house audience could vote, with songwriter Kartner eventually deciding the outcome.  The band will submit a number of new songs, and the best will be selected by a jury and an open televote.

3) RUMOR: According to credible sources, the BBC is in talks with pop singer/songwriter Mika to have him compose the UK’s 2011 Eurovision entry.  After the debacle of this year’s “That Sounds Good To Me”, bringing in a fresh, current, and globally-appealing figure like Mika would be an absolute masterstroke.  He was born Michael Penniman to an American father and Lebanese mother in Beirut, but moved to Paris and then London at a young age.  He has had his name batted around before in ESC circles; there were rumors a few years ago that when Lebanon was considering a return/debut into Eurovision (they were due to enter in 2005, and even had their song selected, but a refusal to show the Israeli entry not only forced their withdrawal from the show, but also had the broadcaster slapped with a three-year ban), Mika would carry their banner.  As this has not happened, we’re left hanging! 

Despite his young age (only 26), Mika is a prolific and highly talented artist.  His breakthrough hit, “Grace Kelly”, was a global smash, reaching the Top Ten in the UK, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and many other charts.  It made it to #12 in Canada, and #13 on the US Pop 100. 

If these rumors actually pan out to contain an iota of truth, this could be absolutely huge for British Eurovision hopes.  While “It’s My Time” was a beautiful song, and performed very capably by Jade Ewen back in 2009, the UK really hasn’t sent a successful up-tempo number since 1998’s “Where Are You“.  Mika could help bring back some measure of credibility to Eurovision in the United Kingdom.  Now we’ll just have to see if this is actually true…

ESC 2010 Reviews: Germany

Ok, remember what I said a few entries back about Finland being the country that would try anything once, even if their adventurous song choices didn’t normally translate to success on the scoreboard?  Well, they might have been taking their lessons from Germany.  Despite a total of 53 entries since 1956, they’ve only chalked up a single victory, in 1982.  While many of their entries have tended towards traditional “schlager“-pop (with composer Ralph Siegel behind the helm of 14 entries between 1974 and 2003), Germany has occasionally veered towards the offbeat, unexpected, and even hilarious (even if the hilarity wasn’t quite intended).

Possibly the most famous of these ESC-based German Freak-Outs was “Dschingis Khan“, served up back in 1979.  Believe it or not, this actually made it to 4th place in Jerusalem, and the band (conveniently also named “Dschingis Khan”) lives on in internet-based infamy.  Check out their song “Moskau”, especially with misheard lyrics (not quite safe for work or children, depending on how sensitive they are…).  The weirdness continued the next year with Katja Ebstein’s “Theater“, with its heavy use of singing mimes (although, isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?).  Odder still, ESC voters lapped it up, and “Theater” came in second place that year.

After putting the offbeat on hiatus for a few years, Germany sent Guildo Horn and the Orthopedic Stockings to the 1998 Contest with “Guildo Hat Euch Lieb (Guildo Loves You All)“.  The performance somehow incorporated cowbells, turquoise velvet clothing, and vague molestation of the viewers sitting in the first two rows…and it placed a more than respectable 7th place!  Two years later, German television personality Stefan Raab, who had written “Guildo Hat Euch Lieb”, decided to strike out on his own with “Wadde Hadde Dudde Da?”, which is sort of a nonsensical, baby-talk way to say “Whaddaya Got There?”.  Raab, like Guildo before him, embraced the lunacy of the situation with both arms (and a pair of badass platform boots), and ended up with a 5th place finish, their most recent top-5 placing, in fact.

After Guildo and Stefan, Germany decided to cool it with the outright comedy for a while, but they still experimented with unexpected genres.  In 2006, they selected Australian-born singer Jane Comerford and her band Texas Lightning to bring country music to the Eurovision stage for the first time with their song “No No Never”, coming in 14th place.  They tried Rat-Pack-inspired big band the next year with Roger Cicero’s “Frauen Regier’n Die Welt (Women Rule The World)“, but their scores dipped even lower, coming in 19th.  Last year, Germany decided to blend swing with burlesque and came up with “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang“, a song that was only redeemed by the sporadic appearance of Dita von Teese and her impossibly tiny waist.  Not even a semi-celebrity in a corset could save “Miss Kiss”, and they stayed in 20th place.

So, what do you do when you find yourself languishing in the bottom half of the scoreboard for longer than is comfortable?  Well, Germany called Stefan Raab again, of course!  He helped set up a national preselection process and sat as head of the jury.  After weeks of competition, who got the golden ticket to Oslo?

At first, I wondered what was up with Lena Meyer-Landrut’s accent while she was singing “Satellite”.  After years of listening to German singers in the ESC singing in English, nobody has had an affectation quite like Lena’s.  Then, after hearing the song through, I realized that she was mimicking the sort of British accent you hear from singers like Kate Nash or Lily Allen.  It’s a bit odd to hear Mockney coming out of a girl from Hanover, but Lena pulls it off with such an endearingly adorable awkwardness that it’s hard not to fall for her.  Unlike other recent ESC submissions from Germany, “Satellite” has actually made it to the pop charts in her native country, smashing records for digital downloads.  Within a week of the song’s release, it was certified gold, and made platinum only three weeks later.  She’s also hit #2 in Switzerland and Austria (which is even more impressive considering that Austria isn’t even competing in this year’s Eurovision), and has even cracked the Top 10 on the European Hot 100 Singles charts, which covers 15 nations all over the continent.  On the official Eurovision page on Youtube, Lena leads all of the other ESC preview videos in terms of view count, with over 3.4 million views as of last count.  (In contrast, Serbia’s video, which is in 2nd place, only has about 600,000.)

Keep in mind that before February 2, nobody knew this girl’s name.

As a writer, even as a complete amateur who’s only really writing this blog for her own enjoyment, I feel it’s my duty to stay impartial and unbiased.  That being said, “Satellite” is a fun, catchy, upbeat, simply adorable number that has obviously made a massive impact on the European market already.  Considering that Germany (like France, the UK, Spain, and Norway) already has a pass to the Finals, and that Lena will be performing close to the end of the roster, this might be the one to beat in Oslo. 

I don’t know about you all, but I’m probably going to have this stuck in my head for a while.