I have to admit I wasn’t always too keen on the German music scene, or at least the part of it that reached my ears through various channels without going out there and seeing for myself what they have to offer. Which means their national finals weren’t exactly troubling my schedule in the past couple of years and I wasn’t exactly planning on finding out on which digital channel they put ARD over here until Mother Nature decided otherwise. Doctor’s verdict: three days of strictly staying at home, varying between couch and bed with a viral infection to the digestive system. Enough to welcome any kind of distraction, including a German NF.
Imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed the show. Very much. Actually. For a country that kind of pretends not be thàt interested in Eurovision they certainly put enough effort into Unser Song für Malmö, and I was very happy to see ARD leaving the talent show route in favour of a final in the league of neighbours Austria and (especially) Denmark. Why especially them? Last year they took me by surprise with a fantastic show that showed lots of variety, and that’s exactly what ARD did last night. Professionally put together with lots of dynamic staging, lighting and directing: nice going. Plus lots of live stuff, not only in vocals (hallo, MF?!) but in instrumentation as well. And of course the light in the dark that is Anke Engelke, blessed with a sense of humour that melts even the coldest of hearts. I imagine.
The German Christer Björkman sure took his time to work out what works for a national final and came up with lots of variety in the field, even though we could roughly classify all of them in four categories: bouncy retropop Germany seems to love so much since Lena, (radiofriendly) dance tunes, somewhat alternative attempts and finally stuff your grandma would enjoy.
Let’s start with the latter as to save the best for last, and let’s get the obvious out of the way: I can see why The Priests were there, talkability and the element of surprise I guess, but this bad mix of The Voice and La Voix was simply painful and the concept itself gets the blood from under my nails. It has been done before by the way, and better at that, and ESC doesn’t need this kind of theatre nowadays. And we got some more drama from Nica & Joe, a duo that’s very gifted in singing together and not so gifted in singing solo, who were clearly auditioning to be on the soundtrack of the next Disney feature. Not my cup of tea.
The somewhat alternative attempts didn’t cut it for me either. Apparently Söhne Mannheims were the ones to beat but I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why. They’re supposed to be this hitmachine but their One Love sounded reasonably dull for a hip hip attempt and the way they performed it made me think of six teachers posing as a band at a local fundraiser for their school. Not cool.
Better give me some LaBrassBanda then, even though the live vocals were so far off the mark they screamed for the mute button. The song was fresh enough though and I didn’t mind the boys’ teenage attitude (that much) but I was extremely surprised to see them do that well in the public votings. Which brings me seamlessly to the jury: I love you. Not only for translating my personal taste so well (I do feel like a pro now, mwuhaha) but Mary Roos’ reaction to the radio voting was simply hilarious. Golden moment of the evening.
The third act I’d put into the alternative category would be Finn Martin, opening the show with that nice but somewhat anonymous song of his. Sounded Danish to my ears #sarcmark. Catchy chorus, yes, but a chorus does not make a song.
Over to the bubbly retro category then, up and coming since Lena’s victory in 2010 and clearly present in yesterday’s event – I am not complaining. Each and every single one of the four that fit into this category were brilliant, each in its peculiar way. Not that Mobilée did such a splendid job, what with their lead singer missing out on almost every single one of those low notes in the verses, but I liked the country feel in their song. And speaking of Lena, somebody threw a crossover of her and Swiss Anna Rosselini on stage in the shape of Mia Diekow. And even though the comparisons were all/much too clear it had a certain je ne sais quoi – it made me happy, being sick and alone on Valentine’s Day this was the perfect cure. Much like the bouncy Betty Dittrich, channeling Massiel in her countless lalala’s. But the one to beat in this category, and my number 2 overall yesterday, was the light version of Amy Winehouse that is Saint Lu. Girlfriend can sing, that’s for sure, and that funky composition was simply delicious. Welcome to my iTunes!
And welcome as well to the three dance tracks on stage yesterday! Ben Ivory might not have gotten his vocals completely together, unfortunately, but the overall concept of show and composition were very much up my ally. I suspect another singer would have done this a world of good, but I’ll gladly sing along to this in the weeks to come.
Which goes for Cascada as well. No, it is not the most inventive song ever written, nor is it the most modern sound we could wish for – the MF feeling is never far away, or to put my best friend’s words into writing: it’s like a fat Charlotte Perelli giving her all. Which is saying it all: girlfriend knows how to sing and her international experience will sure help her along just fine come May, but somebody get her a stylist. Nevermind you love cake, as your introduction movie clearly showed, but choose an outfit that does your body justice instead of looking like a 35 year old who desperately wants to look 18. Will she do anything in Malmö? Could go either way really, I just hope she doesn’t live up to the Kate Ryan feeling I get from her right now.
My favourite yesterday by far was Blitzkids Mvt however, with a song that sounded that bit more contemporary than the eventual winner and a chorus that’ll be stuck in my head for weeks to come. Loved their fashionesque approach and even though the vocals could have been a tad better in the verses I completely fell head over heels in love with this. Jinxed it, I know. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one though. Right, jury?
Thanks for the entertainment anyway, ARD, very much appreciated. Here’s hoping many broadcasters shall follow in those footsteps. Yes, I am looking at you again, VRT & RTBF.
Watch the show again on http://www.eurovision.tv/esctv/past?program=73653
And here’s the winner: