fAlmost nothing has been good since Lena won the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in 2010. At least from a German point of view. Only three times did a participant from Germany finish in the top ten: Lena, who competed again a year after winning with the song “Satellite” in Oslo and came tenth in Düsseldorf; Roman Lob reached number eight in 2012 (“Standing Still”); and four years ago Michael Schulte made it to fourth place with “You Let Me Walk Alone”. After Lena, that was the second-best result since 1999. Otherwise, there have been two last and three penultimate places in the respective finals of the ESC in the past twelve years.
Countries like Italy and Sweden prove that things can be done differently. Sweden has only failed to make the top ten twice since 2010, winning twice. Italy, who competed in the Grand Prix for the first time again in 2011 after a long ESC break from 1998 to 2010, also only finished outside the top ten twice and won sensationally last year with a hard rock ballad: “Zitti e buoni”, sung by the group Måneskin. Unlike Sweden, however, Italy – like Germany – has qualified directly for the final every year.
It starts with the artist selection
What is wrong in Germany compared to countries like Italy or Sweden? A lot, that’s for sure. And above all, it starts with the selection of the artists. Skill is not always the most important factor. Because the vast majority of the artists performing at the ESC can now sing. But Italy and Sweden have always relied on a well-established pre-selection, which not only attracts great attention in their own country, but also far beyond national borders, which since then has played a role that should not be underestimated.
In the south, the ESC candidate is found at one of the most well-known song competitions in the world, the San Remo Festival: That was the case in 1956 when Italy participated in the Grand Prix for the first time, and it has been the case again since 2011. The duo Mahmood & Blanco, winners of the 72nd edition of the Festival della Canzone Italiana this year, and their song Brividi have already garnered a lot of attention. Also because Mahmood is no stranger: Solo he came second at ESC 2019 with the song “Soldi” in Tel Aviv.
In the north, one of today’s toughest and longest ESC selection processes, the Melodifestivalen, has also been taking place almost since the beginning (1959). After a large number of local preliminary decisions, six rounds alone are still shown on television, with 28 contributions appearing in the four semi-finals alone. Anyone who fights through there is well prepared for the ESC. This year’s final will take place on March 12, and one in three Swedes will no doubt be watching the victory of their ESC candidate on TV, because the preliminary round is a national event for Sweden.
Germany, on the other hand, has not found a concept for years. The selection criteria are changed almost every year, which is also due to a certain desperation. The broadcaster that has been responsible for the ESC in Germany for decades, the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), has not yet found a coherent concept, which leads to a lack of understanding and displeasure among the audience. Somehow, in the end, the viewers are usually allowed to vote, but how exactly the candidates are found is not always clear to even die-hard ESC fans.
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