Before writing about the actual "Unser Lied für Israel" aka ULFI, let's squickly summarise the selection process leading to the 7 acts of the show.
the German broadcaster have reviewed about 1000 acts and shortlisted roughly 200 of those. These artists were then presented to a jury of of 100 "Eurovision Enthusiasts" who narrowed the list down to 50 artists. The remaining 50 were reduced to 20 by an "international expert jury" to attend a songwriter "bootcamp" wher only six artists emerged. During this prozess 25 songs were created. All these songs (+ two songs/artists that were bought by the NDR for the show) were rated by the jury and ultimately it was the artists decision what songs would be presented on ULFI in consultation with the NDR.
The competing songs were only released on the evening before the show. It was disappointing to see that no German-singing acts survived to the final. The short time leading up the final opinions on the songs already circled the internet, however the result of ULFI was quite a surprise. But let's start at the beginning.
The opening act on the night was a rendition of "you let me walk the road alone" by Michael Schulte with host Barbara Schöneberger. All in all a good start into the evening.
15min into the show the first act performed.
Being the first on stage is always a difficult starting point and maybe it was nervousness that lead to the off key tones. The beutiful ballad had potential but just couldn't really connect with the audience and as a result the audience in the studio was rather holding back with their applause. It is not surprising that this came in bottom two.
2nd act Aly Ryan introduced herself with a very emotional story about how her deceased big borther influenced her life and how her song was about the unconditional love. Points off for her saying that ESC is about being different though... ESC is about bringing people toghether dispite our differences... but let's move on to the performance. The moment the song started the beat got people excited. The perfomance combined an Eleni -aphrodites look with some Ingrosso- Dance Lights and what would a good ESC show be without a treadmill these days? Or being barefoot? So all in all a very good and strong ESC performance with a lot of boxes ticked. It is easy to see how this can be an ESC-Fan favourite. yet, at the end of the song it just did not connect well enough and it felt being let down from the expectation created when the song started, which might be why the expert jury scored ths rather low.
This to me was kind of Michael 2.0. With an emotional song, that talks about trying to focus on the great memories rather then the hurt of being left alone. A powerful voice and a lot of hair. It was a great song with a solid performance and fire rain only Sobral would diss about. So the similarities to last year is the only reason I can think of, that this did not score higher in the televote - they did not want to send the same thing again?
Okay, I am no expert, but to me it sounded like she started too high and kind of did not recover. From the introduction video you can tell Makeda is an outstanding vocalist and the theme of the song was very powerful. However the execution was rather flat. The staging was confusing, though I personally loved the jumping demons... (and it was not even really used in the transmission...) it just did not come together as good as it looked on paper.
Lilly Among Clouds.
Going into the show this was my favouriite because I like this florence and the machines/ Lana del Rey vibe. I really enjoy the stilistic use f the cracking voice and the high notes, but can see how in her performance this was a bit too much (Peter Urban mentioned she was sick for the week). The staging was rather weird (incl. her dancing) with a conchita style backdrop. That combo probably stopped her from scoring higher.
This is a great radio song with a good message. It is so much a radio song, that people in the creative department did not even do a spell check on the backdrop (much like myself with this). And this is probably why this song only ended in the middle field of the results.
The unexpected winner of ULFI. the song was a late entry, composed by the same person responsible for the UK entry. Going in this was not my favorite. Also this "girlpower" theme annoys me. They say it is about acceptance between women and the women need to stop putting one another down. To me it should not matter if you are a woman or a man or whatever, respect should be a general thing and not just for women. But apart from that I can understand how this got so high stores. The staging was really nice with the rotating square and their vocals harmonised really well.
The "intervall act".
While it was really nice to have Michael performing his new song, for the audience the biggest highlight was Lena. One again she showed her performance skills as well as her charm/charissma on stage.... can we not send her again?
Following Lena were two German singing acts (i mentioned my disappointment at the beginning). And Revolverheld is the kind of act I would love to send as an act for ESC. Following that was German Rock Legend (not my cup of tea) Udo Lindenberg with two songs.
The voting itself was rather unspectacular. except for the surprise of Sisters being so good. Highlight for every wiwibloggs follower was definetly William given the Eurovision Panel paints in German. And once again what would an ESC be without the one and only Jon Ola Sand? (I wonder if he needs a PA and how you can get this job ;) )
Overall, the show war quite allright. The hosts were better than last year, but still please give us some new faces with less cringy jokes. the song quality and staging was great, but non of the songs were clear stand out songs to hold up agains any country releasing a decent song in the competition.
That being said, I wish Sisters all the best for the shows.