In the aftermath of Germany’s 25th-place finish at Eurovision 2021, Jendrik told Germany’s Bild that he wasn’t all that surprised. “I suspected two months ago that I would not meet the expectations of others,” he said. “But honestly: My goal was to get to the ESC! And I did that by convincing the German juries with my song. I knew that ‘I Don’t Feel Hate’ was not my best song, I have better songs, but I also knew that the German juries would only select me for the ESC with this song. Bit sneaky, isn’t it?”
His comments suggest that sending one’s best song isn’t a route to getting to Eurovision. That raises some very big questions about Germany’s selection process and indeed its selections more generally. Since 2015, Germany has finished 25th or lower in every edition of the contest except for 2018 — when Michael Schulte bucked the trend and placed fourth.
Germany’s Eurovision team is well-aware that something isn’t working. Speaking to our friends at German-language Eurovision site ESC-Kompakt, Head of Delegation Alexandra Wolfslast praised Jendrik’s song, but suggested it was too divisive to compete.
“Jendrik made a great performance,” she said. “Unfortunately, his song was not as well received in Europe as the songs of other acts. ‘I Don’t Feel Hate’ is definitely a catchy tune, but also a title that polarizes and has a hard time in the mainstream. In any case, I have integrated the phrase ‘I Don’t Feel Hate’ into my vocabulary.”
Germany’s jury system is identical to that of Switzerland’s and indeed was developed by the same management consulting team. It involves a lengthy process with two juries recruited by the broadcaster — one consisting of music professionals, and one consisting of Eurovision viewers thought to have predictive power based on their past tastes. It’s worked extremely well for Switzerland — fourth place in 2019, third place in 2021 — while it’s been less successful for Germany. In those same two editions Germany placed 25th with with S!sters (including zero televote points) and again with Jendrik (again, no points from the public).
We should point out that in 2018 and 2019, Germany used the system to choose finalists for its national selection. In 2020 and 2021, it used the system to choose the artist and song internally (bypassing a national final).
“Any explanation would be pure speculation,” Alexandra says of the faltering selection process. “The fact is that the same procedure obviously works extremely well in Switzerland, but has not earned us a good ranking.”
“I think it is easy to understand why we are now self-critically reviewing the current selection process and considering what we can do differently in the NDR in the future.”
ESC-Kompakt also asked Germany’s Eurovision boss about the now infamous interview Jendrik gave to Barbara Schöneberger after the grand final, which the singer has described as a “drunk interview”. The interview was agreed in advance. But looking back Alexandra says she would have been happy not to have him do it.
“Together with Jendrik, we had already decided in advance to appear before the press together, regardless of the result,” she says. “Given the situation, the fact that a young artist with little experience in the public doesn’t give the perfect press statement after this experience is simply human. Jendrik subsequently apologised several times for his statements via his channels. In retrospect, however, I would have gladly spared him this experience.”
What are you hoping to see from Germany next year? Do you think they need to give up on their current selection process? Or should they stick it out, hoping for another result like in 2018? Let us know in the comments box below!