Germany and the Eurovision Song Contest have been a story full of misunderstandings in recent years. So it's perhaps not at all surprising that what looks like a big misunderstanding is now on stage in Cologne-Ossendorf and that's exactly what it wants: to go to the ESC for Germany.
The guy wears a wig - model Wischmob - and has a rather comfortable counter stature. Between the always well-coiffed ballad queens and supple pop singers, who make up a large part of the starter field at the ESC, he would certainly attract attention. He calls himself Ikke Hip Gold and insists: "It's not a gag."
On Friday evening (March 3, 10:20 p.m., ARD), Germany will select its contribution to the next ESC in May. Since Wednesday you can already attend the rehearsals for the show, which Barbara Schöneberger (48) will moderate - and get an impression of who wants to start the mission and how to get a few more points than the failed German aspirants of the past few years . Since 2015, last or penultimate places have rained down. The only exception in 2018 was Michael Schulte with fourth place. Also in 2020 one got away without disgrace. But the reason was that there was no ESC at all because of Corona.
The preliminary decision is produced in a studio complex, in the vicinity of which different facets of human life are depicted - both a family-friendly furniture store and a prison are within walking distance. And the contributions initially appear to be similarly wide-ranging - at least musically and visually. Punk rock (Lonely Spring), funk pop (TRONG), ballads (René Miller, Anica Russo, Will Church) - it's all there. One applicant, Patty Gurdy, plays a hurdy-gurdy, an instrument that was previously only known from medieval markets. The band Lord of the Lost is dressed in red leather outfits and sings loud dark rock.
"Contrast makes a good entertainment show - and that's the ESC," says Alina Süggeler from the band Frida Gold, who also competes - with an artful German pop song ("All women in me are tired"). The German preliminary decision also lives on this. She calls what's currently going on in Cologne a "music meeting place."
The one who stands out a bit more in this gathering is nevertheless Ikke Hipgold. He also says that the musical spectrum is very broad. "But I'm the biggest of them all."
The musician, whose real name is Matthias Distel, sings so-called party hits, i.e. songs for the Ballermann, for the fair, for shooting festivals. If you like: a very German style of music. With lines like: "I'm considering quitting drinking - but I'm still hesitating." The fact that he can take part in the preliminary round is thanks to a vote on the Tiktok platform. His contribution is called "Song with good lyrics" and ironically plays with the anti-intellectual image of his party songs. However, much of the text consists of "La-La-La" repeats.
Some people can do little with it. Guildo Horn, who competed for Germany at the ESC in 1998, says the German Press Agency: "I think privately Ikke Hipgold is a very pleasant contemporary, but unfortunately the party proll sound is pretty much exactly the opposite of what entertains me personally."
Hip gold hasn't upset him so far. He brings party and humor with him as colors - that's why it's justified. And the viewers could still decide whether this humor "went off the hook". "Or whether this funny little song, which really doesn't hurt anyone, is well received out there". In any case, he will fight for every point – also internationally.
There have been different explanations for the reasons for the chronic German ESC misery for years. Is it because the greats of German show business - Grönemeyer by the collar - avoid the ESC? Because Stefan Raab no longer participates? The leaden seriousness with which Germans try to plan such a competition, when lightness is required.
Some interesting decisions were also made in 2023. ARD is now showing the preliminary decision very late in the evening, at 10:20 p.m. The station itself calls it a "program planning experiment". On the other hand, the selection mode is more complex than a papal election. It includes an online vote, SMS and calls from the public - and the vote of eight juries from eight different countries.
will this help Hip Gold says that a key to success is certainly creativity and quality. "Now I don't have either," he says and laughs. "And maybe that's the recipe."