Germany has never fully recovered from its 2005 Eurovision debacle when it came last. But you can't say the Germans are not trying.
Germany is sending a swing band to Helsinki
Placing last in the Eurovision Song Contest is a humiliation that European countries try to avoid like the plague. Germany knows how high the pressure is -- especially after its 2005 entry "Hide and Run" suffered the ignominious fate of placing last with only four sympathy points from Monaco and Moldova.
Jane Comerford and Texas Lightning brought country music to the German charts
Last year, Germany decided to shake things up a bit in Europe's favorite singing contest. The catchy, though slightly off-the-path, country-western song "No No Never" -- performed by an aging Australian-born singer whose name is not Kylie Minogue and a band that calls itself Texas Lightning -- was the first Grand Prix competitor in 50 years that featured an ukulele, a singing lady in pink waving an imaginary lasso and a group of musicians who would eventually be declared honorary citizens of Texas by the lonestar state's own senate.
Europe was confused. It voted for Lordi -- a Finnish heavy-metal/horror-film freak show instead. Germany came 15th.
This is a big year for Germany. With Angela Merkel heading the EU's rotating presidency as well as the G8 and fond memories of the World Cup success, this would be a perfect time for Germany to flex its pop muscles and show some talent.
Lordi's song ''Hard Rock Hallelujah'' won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest
But Eurovision is not meant to be enjoyed lightly. An endless parade of songs followed by an equally never-ending voting process is what makes Eurovision a truly unique event -- part circus act, part masochism feast.
Germany, however, organized a national competition in which only three songs were allowed to participate. Putting aside the fact that choosing between three songs on Thursday evening resembled elections under a communist dictatorship -- put a red star next to the name of the Communist Party candidate that you think our glorious leader fancies the most -- the entire spectacle felt like an one-sentence version of Anna Karenina: "She was unhappy and jumped under the train."
Winners and losers
In this unusual eins-zwei-drei affair, two candidates -- a 50 year-old-rocker called Heinz Rudolf Kunze and this year's winners of Germany's popular casting show "Popstars," a girlband called "Monrose" -- came out as losers. Surely, nobody stamped a big "L" on their foreheads, but pursed mouths and teary eyes after the viewers' voting results were announced were telling enough.
The Monrose girls were let down by their teenage fans
Heinz Rudolf Kunze never stood a chance, because, deep down, Germans knew that Europe was never going to accept a rocker called Heinz Rudolf. Heinz sounds like mayonnaise and Rudolf sounds like a reindeer, not exactly the stuff that rock-and-roll rebels are made of.
But where were all those thousands of teenagers who overcharged their cell phones by voting repeatedly during the Popstars finals? German teenagers are either not very-well acquainted with the country's public broadcaster ARD -- the German home of Eurovision and other quality programs -- or they were too busy watching Germany's Next Top Model -- a casting show hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum on a competing private TV channel.
Roger Cicero asked German parents to keep their kids away from their cell phones
Or maybe German parents listened to the third candidate -- 36-year-old jazz singer Roger Cicero -- who pleaded with them in his promotional video to keep the children away from their cell phones. He thought -- like everybody else -- that the girlband's obsessive-compulsive fan base would be a serious threat.
It is not clear whether German teenagers ended up grounded, locked up and deprived of their cellular alter egos. But Roger Cicero's swing hit "Frauen regieren die Welt" (Women Rule the World) reaped all the bouquets on the eve of the International Women's Day -- surprisingly, but refreshingly so.
So here we go again. Germany is experimenting. It's playing with Eurovision fire. But who knows? Swing may end up marching where country music was not allowed to tread. After all, stranger things have happened in the wacky world of Eurotrash glamor. Just look at the Finns.