Berlin calling: Germany’s 2014 Eurovision selection (Unser Song für Dänemark)

Five more national finals to cover, and amongst these was the last of the “Big Five” – the five largest contributors to the EBU: Italy, France, Spain, United Kingdom and today’s focus Germany. They are able to lord it up over the other Big Five, as it’s been a LONG time since another of the others won. Germany recently took home the Eurovision trophy when Lena’s “Satellite” won 2010’s contest in Oslo. Since then they’ve been doing rather well, with a further two top 10 finishes, and a bit of a rude awakening when Cascada were less than Glorious in Malmö.

GermanyGermany are a pillar of Eurovision, the only nation to apply for every show since its beginnings in 1956, though they missed the 1996 final after failing an untelevised qualification round. To their name they’ve only picked up two victories – Nicole’s memorable “A little peace” in 1982, and Lena’s “Satellite” in 2010. Could they manage it again?

Unser Song für Dänemark is Germany’s national final, again staged in a large arena to a huge crowd. Eight artists were selected for the final, with a totally unique and bizarre setup for selecting the winner. Each act was asked to bring TWO songs. After performing the first one, the top 4 acts were voted through by SMS. In the second round, these acts’ second songs were performed, and the public again voted across all eight songs. The top 2 songs then went to a final showdown by SMS, but only if they were from different artists. If one act got the two highest voted songs, they’d sacrifice the second-place for someone else’s third place.

Totally bonkers, meaning the acts invariably put their better songs on first, and making you wonder why they ever needed two songs in the first place! Well I’m sure the Germans know what they are doing… let’s see, shall we?

unser song fur danemark germanyDas Gezeichnete Ich – Weil du da bist

Das Gezeichnete Ich germanyHow on Earth did they fill such a big arena? Ooh dear, those first few notes weren’t great … ack, it doesn’t improve either. First rule of Eurovision – make sure you are able to sing your own song. A shame, it might have been a decent track otherwise. Not great, it does rely on a lot of those slightly whiny notes – really not good if you can’t manage to hit most of them.

Oceana – Thank You

What the hell is she wearing? It’s a bit of a strange song, even halfway through I wasn’t quite sure where it was going. The chorus isn’t too bad, but this… whatever genre this fits in, it’s a bit too much style over substance. She’s got a good voice, but I’m not really into this song.

The Baseballs – Mo Hotta Mo Betta

the baseballs germanyThe only ‘name’ I’ve heard of, and only in passing – one of those 50s throwback acts that has seen a small breakthrough in the UK. Probably a bit of a shock that these got knocked out in round 1 but it’s really hit and miss; you either like old rock’n’roll or you don’t. I’m in the latter group sadly, it’s just mimicking something 60 years old without taking it anywhere. To their credit it’s easier to get into than the previous one, and their harmonies are good, I just don’t like this style.

Madeline Juno – Like Lovers Do

And the last of the acts to be knocked out in round 1, Madeline has a bit too much of a breathy vocal to fill that arena. These sort of vocalists are ten-a-penny these days; twitchy and gasping from the emotion, and presumably the strain of putting on an American accent (with isolated outbreaks of Alanis). A bit too self conscious for me to warm to it.

Santiano – The Fiddler On The Deck

santiano germanyThat’s QUITE a set! No wonder they did this song first. A massive boat sets the scene for this wry sea shanty. Really instant and hard to ignore. A bit strange to see it in the German final though, not the first country that spring to mind when I think of seafaring lore, especially with this distinctly Celtic-sounding track. A crowd pleaser, a bit of a novelty but enjoyable all the same.

Santiano – Wir werden niemals untergehen

Back for round two, they brought the boat out again (how was this thing filmed, was this popped up every time they performed?!). Their second song in German is a little more appealing – the different singer’s tone isn’t perhaps as gentle on the ears, but the more subdued tone to the song makes it a lot easier to like without cringing. Another Celtic-themed sea shanty but hits plenty of rousing moments. Would have been a truly bizarre entry, but not without merit.

MarieMarie – Cotton Candy Hurricane

mariemarie germanyMore airy fairy female indie pop, this time she’s got a bouffant mohican and a harp! Fortunately she’s included a tune in this one, unlike Madeline. I like her voice more, sounds a bit like Kate Bush doing something with a much more commercial beat behind it than she’d normally do. There’s a lot of window dressing here, but the song itself isn’t too bad. Maybe lacking a bit of oomph but I’ve heard worse.  What the hell was that braying she does near the end though?!

MarieMarie – Candy Jar

More candy? You’ll rot your teeth! It starts off rather well, I like the darker tone to the first verse, that pulsing beat works well – reminds me of some of my favourite electropop stuff of recent years. The chorus doesn’t quite make it though, it’s a little too subdued, and her voice spends a lot of time in a fairly quiet lower register. We get a harp solo though! I think this might just edge out the first song… just.

Unheilig – Als wär’s das erste Mal

unheilig germanyThat’s a deep voice! Not sure I like the jacket, he looks like a pilot. The limited choreography he displays seems to be indicating the emergency exits. It’s a pleasant enough track to listen to, but with such a deep voice it’s easy to sort of miss him and let the gentle Killers-esque production wash over you a bit. It’s just not really doing much for me, it’s just inoffensive and not very memorable.

Unheilig – Wir sind alle wie eins

Surprisingly though, he came 2nd in the end – we won’t know if both of Elaiza’s songs beat this, but this did better than his first song. Not much in it though really, it looks and sounds pretty similar to his first song. His voice does rise up a little for the choruses, he manages to uproot himself from the mic stand for a little while. The chorus is a bit nicer but I think he’s just not going to do it for me.

Elaiza – Fight Against Myself

elaiza germanySo Elaiza, the wildcard act selected from a concert a few weeks back, won the German ticket up to Copenhagen, but not with this song. Weirdly I can’t find a performance video of this in the final, but there’s a music video. Wasn’t expecting it to sound so Oom Pah, it sounds like it should be off a mobile phone advert. Not sure what I think of it, they’re quite likeable even if the song is a bit ploddy, like No Doubt without the ska. Again there’s a sort of enforced whimsy in there that doesn’t do much for me, but this didn’t win, so what does it matter?

Elaiza – Is It Right

So here we are, the German entry for Copenhagen. More Oom Pah, but it’s got a bit more Oomph in there too. Her voice seems like it’s got to be an acquired taste, she seems reluctant to sing the actual notes, preferring to dress it up (or mask it) with shouty spikes, frilly vibrato and strange vocal tics. It’s very distracting and if the rhythm wasn’t so regular I’m not sure I’d have any idea how this song went after it finished. It’s OK, but that’s as much as you’re getting tonight.




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1 Comment

Filed under Copenhagen 2014, Eurovision, Music, Reviews

One response to “Berlin calling: Germany’s 2014 Eurovision selection (Unser Song für Dänemark)

  1. Pingback: Road to Copenhagen 2014: Elaiza – “Is it right?” (Germany) | Verbal Diarrhoea

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