Earlier this month, Germany went through an old-fashioned Eurovision soap. First, superstar Xavier Naidoo was presented as the internal choice to represent Germany in Stockholm. This choice, however, led to protests because of the homophobe and racist opinions that Naidoo allegedly would have. Broadcaster NDR then announced only a few days later that, due to the emotions that the choice had unleashed, Naidoo would not go to Eurovision.
Personally, I would not have a problem with Naidoo representing Germany. Every artist is entitled to their own opinions, no matter how objectionable we may find them – that is the core value of freedom of speech in Europe. Especially in a non-political event like Eurovision, someone should be judged by his music, and not by his political viewpoints.
However, this was not the main attitude in Germany. And that is where Naidoo’s participation becomes a problem. Not just the die-hard Eurovision fans opposed the choice; big newspapers joined their protest, turning Xavier Naidoo into a Eurovision entry that did not have the support from the home country.
This support is the first step towards Eurovision success. Broadcasters need to select an entry that can unite their country. It is something the UK and the Netherlands have failed to do on several recent occasions, leading to historic streaks of bad results. And it is something Germany failed to do, not only this year, but in previous years as well.
In the beginning of 2015, Andreas Kümmert won the German national final with an overwhelming score in the televote. However, his withdrawal got broadcaster NDR stuck with Ann Sophie, an artist that people had not voted for. One could also argue that Elaiza in 2014 was a disputable entry; even though the girls had won the national final, many Germans had rather seen the popular band Unheilig on the Eurovision stage.
Looking back at those unfortunate national finals, an internal selection seemed like the obvious solution for this season. However, NDR could have known that choosing Xavier Naidoo would lead to discussion. The controversy around his lyrics and comments had started long before he got involved in Eurovision, and whether or not his allegedly racist opinions are actually true or not, does not matter. It was obvious that this entry might not get the full support from the German people.
Xavier Naidoo was not the right man at this point. However, once the decision was made, NDR should have stuck by his side instead of bending for criticism that had nothing to do with music. In other words: merely everything seemed to have gone wrong in this situation.
Last season, Andreas Kümmert was put in a national selection he did not want to win. The year before that, Clubkonzert ruined the Eurovision dream of established artists such as Unheilig and Santiano. And now, a highly controversial artist was chosen and withdrawn in the span of just a few days. Mistake after mistake has been made, and the days that superstars such as Jamie Cullum wanted to be involved in the German Eurovision entry, seem long gone.