2017 Review: Germany

Okay. So now that national final season’s been over for pretty much a month, Eurovision promotion parties are popping up (all of which I can’t attend because I live six time zones away), I might as well mention that outside of Sweden, Finland, and the second half of Estonia, I didn’t watch any national finals.  Even if I did sit through every Super Saturday, I would still have an excuse not to watch Germany’s national selection because it’s on…Thursday? And I had class at the time? Due to this the only German national final I’ve watched in the past 5 years has been 2016, which I’m still bitter about NDR not selecting monks with lasers.

This year’s German national selection was pretty much a condensed version of its 2010/2012 national selection; instead of happening over the course of probably 6 weeks, NDR made a shortlist of 32 artists (33 if Nathan Trent hadn’t been selected for Austria) and narrowed it to 5 artists that would make the stage. Once this was done, over the course of 3 hours the audience had to decide 1) which artists would make the “audition”, 2) which versions of the two selected songs would make the superfinal, and 3) which superfinal entry would represent the country. Artist Levina went to the superfinal alone, her version of “Perfect Life” eventually defeating her version of “Wildfire.”

I don’t know if the massive amount of dislikes is due to the song or because the national final was a mess. However, I will mention that this song sounds super generic. It might be well produced, well performed, and be a great radio hit with a good beat to keep morale up at work, but nevertheless generic. When my friend listened to this song for the second time, he started singing Katy Perry’s “Firework” on top of the refrain. And then there’s been a major plagiarism accusation of the composers ripping off the introduction of “Titanium.” This probably shouldn’t be the worst case scenario though; last time when Germany got caught in another plagiarism accusation, i.e. “Glorious” sounded like “Euphoria”, Thomas G:Son put down his verdict: Most pop songs sound the same. No further comment.

Anyways, in a way it’s similar to Sweden’s 2003 entry, in which the lyrics write themselves. I don’t want to go the same route as Julie Frost at Austria’s national selection last year (i.e. “As an American/native English speaker”), but the lyrics are really cliché, especially “I’m not afraid to make a mistake/sometimes it’s wrong before it’s right.” I still like the first part of the refrain, where Levina sings that she’s “walking asleep, dreaming awake” or “almost a sinner, nearly a saint,” and she explains that she’s a mess of contradictions. It might be simple, but it gets the job done and fits the syllable count.

The “almost a sinner, nearly a saint” line distracted me a bit after listening to the song a few times. If she’s almost a sinner and nearly a saint, she’s therefore neither a sinner nor a saint. Anyone up for her to do a version of Alcazar’s 2003 Melodifestivalen entry?

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2016 Review: Germany

Before discussing Germany’s actual entry this year, I just want to vent a little bit:

Germany, you had the chance to send monks with lasers and pyros. Lasers and pyros! How did they not even make the superfinal? Obviously the answer is that the televoters didn’t vote them in, but I’m still annoyed that Gregorian scored below a (somewhat decent) Ralph Siegel composition, a song that reminded me of the Crayon Shin-Chan theme song, and a guitar peace song with lyrics in the background that no one could read because the camera kept spinning round and round.

(In case you didn’t notice, Gregorian was my favorite act of ULfS)

Anyways, 1st place was the recent winner of the Voice of Germany, Jamie-Lee Kriewitz, with the song “Ghost.”

Tune-wise it sounds a bit like a plodder, and the baseline reminds me a lot of Germany’s entry the previous year. Theme-wise it also sounds similar, since it’s another relationship that seems to have fallen apart. Last year the two were only left with smoke, and this year the two walk around with ghosts around their shoulder. As a result, this would probably get a similar score if it was audio only. But someone has to throw in a reminder that it’s EuroVISION, so there’s still the staging.

I really liked the intro where she stands in the darkness with a shadow against the moon backdrop. It’s just when the lights start to flash on her and the outfit with bright colors clashed with the dark staging and song, kind of like when it’s supposed to be dark and then there’s this fairy that’s not supposed to be there. On the other hand, her outfit and staging are what make the performance stand out, and pairing a memorable staging with a mildly-catchy song could get her some points.

One major issue that could bring her down is that she might get called out for cultural appropriation. While yes, there’s no problem with her saying that she loves Japanese street fashion and K-Pop, there will be some East Asians calling her a weaboo (extreme fan who doesn’t think China/Japan/Korea/etc can do any wrong, that [insert East Asian country here] is superior), an egg (white on the outside, yellow on the inside), or commenting that she doesn’t have any other connections to East Asia. Since I’m ABC, I kind of want to know how she got interested in the style, just to confirm that she’s not wearing something simply because it looks cool or for marketing purposes, that she’s got a story.

Let (only) the music win?

While the kids were preparing for and having fun at Junior, the senior Eurovision world had a drama blip: Germany selects artist, public complains, Germany retracts artist.

NDR announced on November 19 that Xavier Naidoo was internally selected to represent Germany. From a musical standpoint only, NDR didn’t have a major problem: Xavier Naidoo’s been on the music scene for nearly 20 years, and all his albums have charted gold or platinum. I might have complained that the songs were kind of dentist-friendly rather than stadium friendly, but I’ve only listened to “Alles kann besser werden” (Thanks, HS German teacher for spamming it for a month in class), “Schau’ nicht mehr zurück”, and his band Söhne Mannheims’ “Und wenn ein Lied.” The broadcasting station’s also done internal selections in the past, like in 2009.

Photo credit eurovision.de

Unfortunately, there was a lot more to the story. Not only was the German public upset about their tax dollars going towards an internal selection where they had no say in who would represent their country (sounds like “taxation without representation”); they were also upset about Xavier Naidoo’s political views, as he was accused of racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia: English Wikipedia claims that he “is a 9/11 truther, blames the Rothschild family, and is part of the Reichbürgerbewegung,”, while a song that he released in 2012 could have been interpreted as equating homosexuality with child abuse and satanic rituals. As a result, NDR’s announcement led to a major uproar on Twitter, to the point which his name was trending as a hashtag in Germany, and an online petition was written to get him off the Eurovision stage. 2 days later, NDR withdrew their decision and announced that someone else was going to represent the country.

I wonder what would happen if Marcel Bezençon were still alive to see the contest he created in 1956 after 60 years. Even though the most of the participating countries aren’t at war with each other, the “no politics” rule has been broken countless times with countries raising the middle finger at other countries under smoke machine and glitter rain. With Dana International’s victory in 1998, LGBT+ issues have become the biggest constant political issue in the contest. Sometimes the audience or jury will vote against a country (e.g. Russia) simply because it would make a poor host and damage the contest’s LGBT+ safe space bubble, and not because of the song or performance. Instead they’ll look for the country whose host city will drape itself in rainbows, loosen up marriage license regulations for the month of the contest, and change the traffic signals to images of same-gender couples.

malmoe goes gay

Probably why a lot of fans love going to Sweden for ESC: Because they care about both the songs and the audience members. Screenshot from Eurovision.tv

Vienna’s new traffic signals made for Eurovision. Photo credit: independent.co.uk

Even though it is important to maintain the safe space, it’s gotten to the point that the song and performance aren’t always the top priorities in choosing an entry. Now with all the press’s dirt-digging going around, the delegation has to make sure that the artist will be accepted by the community, that they haven’t said or done anything offensive and not apologized enough, that the audience isn’t going to boo them at every single press event.

They also can’t be offended if the camera’s view is obstructed by multiple rainbow flags

Maybe NDR was trying to make a point to direct the contest back to Marcel Bezençon’s idealized contest. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the countries don’t always get along as long as the song and stage act appeal to the audience. If Russia could get points from including 19 Western European countries in 2015 despite the Russian government’s recent actions, and Armenia could give its political enemy Azerbaijan even one point in 2009, then the politics shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be such a major focus in the contest. If Xavier Naidoo was representing Germany for Eurovision 2016, it would have been a controversial choice, but eventually the focus would be the song and performance. And if I had the chance to vote at Eurovision, I wouldn’t vote for him. It wouldn’t be because of his beliefs and past actions, but because I don’t like his songs.

Whoops, wrong season…

For some reason YouTube started suggesting Christmas carols in late August/early September. It’s probably because I listen to “Silent Night” year-round, but oh well. Anyways, if YouTube can do this, then so can a little blogger who’s currently running out of ideas because there’s hardly any news coming up in the ESC world…

One of my math teachers in high school hated Valentines Day. People were going out of their minds to find their SO’s gifts, triple dipping them in chocolate fondue, and dropping the most obnoxious “I love you” references. As a result, every year he suggested that people break up with their SO’s a few days before the holiday and get back together the day after in order to avoid the chaos.

I don’t think anyone in class really followed that, but it would have been a great idea to get rid of people acting like Lena’s character in Satellite at the time. Going everywhere for [insert person here]? Completely changing their hairstyle? Openly speaking about buying new new blue underwear? Pretty much going helicopter lover because they can’t go a minute without [insert person here]? First off, isn’t this a little bit over the top? Second, it’s borderline stalking. I would probably get whatever’s the school’s equivalent to a restraining order if stuff like this went too far. Also, if you look at their perspective, chocolate is really expensive during the season. They’re losing time/money/sleep over someone who’s probably not going to reciprocate and might as well go on Instagram to find some celebrity to fan over.

As for my last 2 years of celebrating 14. February? This year was pretty good. After telling my SO that I’m lactose intolerant and was not a fan of celebrating the day or L just straight up embarrassing me with cheese a few days before, I turned off my phone and we ignored each other for 24 hours. And then it was back to lactose-free sarcasm.

The year before that I spent eating tangyuan (sticky rice dumplings) and watching 3 Idiots after breaking up with my beta-test SO. I didn’t like him anyways and was only dating him at the time to figure out how relationships worked. I wasn’t sure when we were going to break up, so I had twice the amount of needed ingredients sitting in my fridge. The good thing was it happened 2 days before, so I got double the tangyuan that I really had no plan on sharing anyways. My math teacher also approved.

Stupid writer’s block…

Is it right or is it wrong? I can’t go on. You can’t go on. If you say yes (or even no) you don’t know how or where to go. Is it right?

I’m turning into the one person trying to write something in Elaiza’s entry, typing 300 words or the same paragraph (with slightly varied phrasing) 6 times in a row and ending up deleting the entire file because it sucks. It’s either that or I don’t know where else to go on. Stupid writer’s block.

Otherwise it’s probably time for another round of how [insert singer here] is great at storytelling (read: how I ended up connecting the dots so their words fit my story), or how much I hate my family telling me off. Let’s see what happens…

30 Days of Eurovision Challenge- Day 26

 

Prompt: A song which you prefer studio over live

When I took physics class over the summer, the sound the projector made when the professor turned it on reminded me of the first note of Germany’s 2013 entry, “Glorious” by Cascada (yes of “Everytime we touch” fame). It reminded me of how much I loved blasting it in the shower and how much the song got reduced to bottom 5 after three consecutive top 10 placings.

Though the song did appear in a lot of YouTubers’ top 10 of XX ESC songs of 2013 when it won Unser Song für Malmö,“Glorious” was too long for the 3-minute performance limit, and they had to get rid of 30 seconds in order for SVT to not yank them offstage once time was up. Since there wasn’t a very good place to obviously cut anything, the German delegation decided to simply hack off pieces here and there and hope that no one would notice.

It didn’t work. Add on some slightly off-key backing vocalists, and the result was 18 points and 21st place.

Simply reminding me of the song didn’t help though. I still fell asleep in class.

Want to see the rest of the 30 Day Challenge posts? Click here to find the rest of the entries.

And the winner is…Sweden!

I was going to post this yesterday, but congratulations to Sweden and Måns Zelmerlöw for winning the 60th Eurovision Song Contest with 365 points!

It’s also Sweden’s 6th win since ABBA in 1974.

Ranking:

1. Sweden- 365 points
2. Russia- 303 points
3. Italy- 292 points
4. Belgium- 217 points
5. Australia- 196 points
6. Latvia- 186 points
7. Estonia- 106 points
8. Norway- 102 points
9. Israel- 97 points
10. Serbia- 53 points
11. Georgia- 51 points
12. Azerbaijan- 49 points
13. Montenegro- 44 points
14. Slovenia- 39 points
15. Romania- 35 points
16. Armenia- 34 points (Tie Break)
17. Albania- 34 points
18. Lithuania- 30 points
19. Greece- 23 points (only 8 of which came from Cyprus)
20. Hungary- 19 points
21. Spain- 15 points
22. Cyprus- 11 points (And Greece only gave Cyprus 10 points. Death and taxes are still guaranteed, but Greece and Cyprus exchanging 12 points isn’t anymore.)

23. Poland- 10 points
24. United Kingdom- 5 points
25. France- 4 points
26. Germany- 0 points (There were points somewhere in the split voting but they disappeared)
27. Austria- 0 points