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Just how big a deal is Eurovision in Germany?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
Just how big a deal is Eurovision in Germany?
Isaak from Germany will sing “Always On The Run” at the finals on May 11th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

The annual Europe-wide festival of music and kitsch that is Eurovision has a huge German fanbase – even if the country has had a decade-long streak of mostly underwhelming, disappointing finishes.

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Like cherry blossoms and resurgent Spargel (asparagus) obsessions, the arrival of Eurovision season in Germany is a sure sign that spring has arrived.

Over eight million people – or around ten percent of the country’s total population – watched Eurovision in Germany in 2022. That makes the Eurovision Song Contest – or simply “ESC” to many Germans – one of the most watched television events in Germany each year.

Radio stations have been steadily playing this year’s song, as well as hits from years gone by. Whether it’s the main German “Grand Prix” party in Hamburg – as the Eurovision Song Contest here in Germany is sometimes known – or the many viewing parties around the country at homes and in bars, mid-May’s Eurovision season leaves open many chances to sport flags and glitter.

Does Germany do well in Eurovision?

Germany was one of the original seven countries to participate in the first Eurovision in 1956. Since then, it’s taken part in every year’s contest except for one – more than any other country at Eurovision. As one of the so-called “Big Five” countries along with Spain, France, the UK, and Italy – it is guaranteed a spot in May 11th's grand final without having to compete in semi-finals.

The country has won twice. That puts it ahead of most participating countries – that have yet to take home the big prize, or who have won once. It also ties with the two other participating German-speaking countries, Austria and Switzerland, each of which have also won twice.

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Young Schlager singer Nicole brought home the trophy for Germany first in 1982 with her song Ein bisschen Frieden or “A little bit of peace.” Singer Lena – still one of Germany’s most popular and well-known music stars – would win Eurovision again for the country in 2010, this time with the English-language song Satellite.

Germany has also placed in the top three 11 times – with singer Katja Ebstein being the only Eurovision performer to ever score three top three finishes, for her performances in 1970, 1971, and 1980.

Although a solid ESC country overall, Germany has slumped at Eurovision in recent years.

It also comes a ways behind Eurovision powerhouses like this year's host Sweden, which has won the contest seven times - tied with Ireland for the most wins in the history of Eurovision.

READ ALSO: Why are people in Germany-speaking countries so obsessed with Schlager music?

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Germany at Eurovision 2024 

Unfortunately, Eurovision doesn’t allow people to vote for their own country, so people who are in Germany during voting unable to vote for Germany.

This year’s German entry is by singer ISAAK with his song Always on the Run. He won the national selection earlier this year - which is a TV contest on German public broadcasting and the winner gets to represent Germany at Eurovision.

Most countries have to qualify for Saturday’s grand final during semi-finals held during the week. But, as we've mentioned Germany is in the “Big Five” of European Broadcasting with a hefty contribution to the budget, which means ISAAK will automatically make the Grand Final.

By the standards of the last few years though, it won't be hard for ISAAK to get a good showing, and indications show people seem to like this year's entry (at least better than last year's metal act Lord of the Lost). Germany has finished last place in the Eurovision grand final eight times since 1956 – yet three of those last place finishes have happened since 2015. Three other German performances since 2015 finished second to last.

Since that fateful year, only 2018 entrant Michael Schulte managed to interrupt Germany’s recent disappointing streak – finishing in fourth with his heartfelt song “You Let Me Walk Alone” – a tribute to his deceased father.

READ ALSO: Sweden's Eurovision brings kitsch in the shadow of Gaza

How can you watch it in Germany?

You can always your VPN to watch your home country’s broadcast - Graham Norton’s Eurovision commentary on the BBC in the UK is a famous one. But in Germany, ARD public broadcasting screens it or you can watch online as well at eurovision.de.

Bars often host watch parties and it's common for friends to host Eurovision parties.

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