Editorial – Before the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 had even come to an end, the German press already speculated about the German selection for the next edition in 2013. Since 2010, the public broadcaster ARD and the private network ProSieben had collaborated in choosing the German entrant through a casting show. This year the ratings were disastrous,though. How should Germany select its Eurovision entry for Sweden?
Proposition 1: Keep the “Unser Star für…” series
The German results at Eurovision since the new casting format has been introduced have been very good. A win in 2010, tenth place in 2011 and 8th place in 2012. Apart from Azerbaijan, Germany now has the longest current run in the Top 10. The thing that works so well is the seperate selection of singer and song. First the audience can select a singer (Lena, Roman Lob) that has the biggest mass appeal and then they present several songs written by an international pool of songwriters. The problem of the format: It’s incredibly boring. This year it became clear that most viewers obviously followed the last two years because of Lena. Roman and his fellow competitors could not do the same. The ratings were close to abmysal at times and for private channel ProSieben that is probably not enough, especially as they do not really profit from the Eurovision broadcast later on.So all in all, and according to press reports, a continuation of the series seems very unlikely.
Proposition 2: The “old-fashioned” way
In the years before Raab, the ARD held a “traditional” national final with three or more songs competing for the right to represent Germany. At times they managed to convince quite popular singers such as Monrose or even Eurovision legends like Vicky Leandros to compete. The concept even produced one of the biggest Eurovision hits in Germany: “No, no never” by Texas Lightning. However, the way the national final was held with lots of Eurovision nostalgia and in a small theatre is no longer in keeping with what the ARD wants the contest to be perceived like.So what to do?
Proposition 3: The “Bundesvision Song Contest”
Stefan Raab created the Bundesvision Song Contest, a Eurovision-like competition between the 16 German regions, after the disappointing 8th place of his song “Can’t Wait Until Tonight” by Max Mutzke. Every year since then the contest has attracted some of the biggest name in the German music business such as Clueso, Seed, Peter Fox and Tim Bendzko. Most musicians do not see the competition as a risk to humiliate themselves but rather as a possibility to promote a new single. In most cases that works out quite well. Most winning songs have become hits in Germany. So why not choose the German hopeful for Eurovision this way? One problem may be that the known artists I just mentioned may not be willing to compete anymore if, in case of a win, they had to go to Eurovision, which is still perceived as a bigger risk than possibility for established acts. Also the voting system (just like in Eurovision) is not representative. Small regions like Berlin award as many points as big regions like Bavaria and the result is thus not representative.
Proposition 4: A German Melodifestivalen
Years ago there were reports that the ARD had bought the rights of “Melodifestivalen” from Swedish national broadcaster SVT. The Swedish national selection is the most popular and most watched show on Swedish television every year and attracts some of the country’s biggest stars of all musical genres. Right now, the ARD is in a position where such a project could also work in Germany. Lena’s win and consistently good results for Germany in the last three years have raised the image of the contest and the media attention has increased dramatically. Many popular artists such as Tim Bendzko, MIA, Oceana and Unheilig have claimed they may consider participating in Eurovision. With several semi-finals being held, ProSieben and ARD could continue their cooperation and if they do the promotion right and get the right acts to compete (preferably from all musical genres) the ratings may be very pleasing for both channels.
If I was the head of ARD (or the King of Germany, whichever you like better) I would try the fourth proposition. In my opinion it should have been tried after the Eurovision win when the chance of a success for such a format was even higher, but it’s not too late yet.
What do you think? How should Germany choose its entry next year?