When Lena won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010, Germans could no long deny that miracles do exist. Berliners are putting on fake eyelashes and turning on their wind machines to make sure karma keeps them in mind.
I like Germany's entry for Copenhagen, Elaiza's song "Is It Right." The nonchalant mixture of pop and polka-Balkan beats caught my ear from the start and puts a skip in my step. It's not one of those songs you have to listen to 10 times before they hit you. One listen, and it's stuck in your head, guaranteed.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been getting the impression that "Is It Right" is becoming inflationary. If you didn't know that this year's Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Copenhagen, you could have easily thought that it's happening in Berlin, or at least somewhere in Germany.
I wake up to "Is It Right" as the new jingle on several TV stations, I hear it three more times on the radio on the way to work, and I get daily invitations to Eurovision parties. ESC is everywhere, all day, every day at the moment - especially in Berlin.
I also read the other day that the ESC is one of the major betting events in Germany and Europe. Some friends of mine in Berlin even organize their own Eurovision bets. The winner gets a crate of beer.
Honor at stake
It hasn't been that long since Germany actually won the annual celebration of kitsch, and it still have the taste of victory on its lips. It helps that there are apparent similarities between Elaiza and the 2010 winner, German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut. Both had been complete no-names ahead of the national selection contests, both songs ("Satellite" and "Is It Right) made quick impressions on the audience, and both singers are young and charming.
Most importantly, Berlin is still hoping to overcome the 2011 frustration of not hosting the Eurovision show after Lena's victory. Back then, the honor was given to Dusseldorf.
As you can imagine, Berliners would kill for the opportunity. Wouldn't it be fabulous to get involved again and show that the Germans - stereotypes notwithstanding - really can throw a party? They proved it during the soccer World Cup in 2006 and would do anything to be the center of attention once again.
Get in the game and stand out
I'm convinced that all the Eurovision hype - which has been growing by the day - is not about the winners per se. This is not your typical match or contest where it's first place that counts. It's about the bigger story of Europe's "baby," which has transformed over the years from ugly and boring to cool and contagious.
German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut won in Olso in 2010
ESC has managed to create a sense of community like no politician or lobbyist ever could. And that community includes some 125 million viewers.
Millions of people across the continent (and beyond) make themselves a part of it just by talking about it. For the contestants, the aim is to make headlines the next day, either with ludicrous choreography (à la Germany's Stefan Raab in 2000) or by singing biting social critiques (like Israeli contestants waving Syrian flags during their rehearsal in 2000).
Those who are particularly edgy leave a question mark in the gender box, like Austria's 2014 entry, transvestite Conchita Wurst with the song "Rise Like a Phoenix."
Whatever the cost
Whether you're a journalist with a backstage pass, a live audience member in the front row, or just watching the madness from your living room couch, it comes down to the basic human need to gossip. And ESC certainly isn't miserly with material, from glitzy outfits and pyrotechnical stage tricks to the indispensable cliques that always vote for each other (think former Yugoslavia).
Clearly, ESC has addiction potential. "I'm having withdrawal syndrome," a journalist friend of mine recently posted on Facebook. He goes to ESC every year but couldn't make it to Copenhagen.
As a Eurovision nerd myself (honestly, I don't just go for work), I realize that no one takes Eurovision seriously as a contest. Still, the fuss with a million sequins and a cherry on top and the host country's "we'll-do-it-best" attitude only add to the infatuation factor.
All you have to do is stick in your little toe, and you'll get sucked right in.
The same goes for Germany's song in Copenhagen. I bet I'll hear it at least twice on my way home today. Dear Elaiza, inflationary or not, I'm willing to hear "Is It Right" 20 more times if you like and I'll tell all my friends outside of Germany to call in and vote for you. Douze points for Germany - Just bring Eurovision to Berlin in 2015!
You can't miss them in Berlin, and they dot urban hubs elsewhere, too. Ad columns have helped during war and defied digitalization. Their inventor, who was inspired by public toilets, would've turned 200 on February 11.