HANOVER- You participate in a music competition for a chance to represent your district in a state or national competition. You do a solo and perform it really well in front of the audience. It was well enough that you end up in the finals. You woo the audience with your song again, who pick you as the winner. You are selected by the host to be the winner and are given the chance to compete in the next competition. However, instead of taking this honor, you give it away to the second place winner, using the reasons stated in the first video.
How would you feel by doing this? And would your fans forgive you for making this decision?
This is exactly what happened in the Eurovision Song Contest last night in Hanover, Germany. In the German competition, where the winner will represent the country in the international contest scheduled to take place in Vianna, Austria on 5 May, Andreas Kümmert was selected to represent Germany in the competition, only to give a heart.wrenching announcement that he was declining the award and his participation in Vienna, thus handing the ticket to Ann Sophie. Despite the Bavarian’s reason of him being a simple singer, both his song as well as the one of Hamburger were really great and received standing ovations last night. Have a look at the two videos with the first one by Ann Sophie…..
and that by Andreas Kümmert:
Being honored to represent your country on such an international level is something that is not to be taken lightly, speaking from experience of this author. Garnering over 10 years of experience singing in choirs, a barbershop quartet and even solo, if there is a word of advice to give to someone about to compete on a much higher level, it would be this: To go the extra mile to win, you need the right people, the right resources, and especially the right attitude to pull it off.
If there was a memory of how these ingredients did not work, it was with my quartet winning the county fair talent show in 1994 but floundering in the semi-finals of the Minnesota State Fair’s talent show. There, a combination of lack of time and practice, combined with lack of people to push us to the higher level, and especially our own lack of commitment and too many assumptions that we would win, literally caught us with our trousers down at the state level. This despite pleas from one of the members to kick it in gear and take the time to prepare which was met with a lukewarm response (I guess you know who that hombre was, right? 😉 ) At the competition, all of us were pale and sweating like the Falls of the Big Sioux in Sioux Falls (South Dakota). While we learned that we did not advance to the state finals, and two of the members fumed over it, claiming the ruling was fixed, other members of the audience I talked to later at a dance mentioned we were stiff as a board, scared out of our pants and were just underprepared. I was hardly in a position to disagree with them with their observations.
And while I’ve hung up my career since coming to Germany in 1999, I took a lot with me which was put into use as a writer and an English teacher. This includes one statement worth noting: There are two ways to run away- one is when you force yourself to do it to impress others but not yourself (and either failing miserably or not having the success you wanted), and one where it’s not worth sacrificing one’s own sanity in doing because of the lack of will and personal resources to do it. I really do not know why Kümmert backed out of the big competition, but my feelings are he fell into the first category- because he did not want to commit himself to the competition because of too much pressure impress others versus what he really feels about doing it. In that retrospect, I can say respect to his decision. It is better to back out if you do not feel right about it than to make a fool out of yourself and become the dormant to others in the long run. It is not about weakness, as many critics pointed out, but it is the search for the right feel. And if the feeling is not right, it is best to walk away and find the best in life. Kümmert, we wish you the best in your endeavors in whatever you are looking for in life. And best of luck to Ann Sophie as she represents Germany at the Eurovision song contest in Vienna. May you learn from his experience and be who you are, and not what the others want you to be.
My two cents on this topic.
Fast Fact about the Eurovision Song Contest: Since its first competition in 1956, it has involved a representative from more than 30 states in Europe and the British Commonwealth. More information about the process of selection and competition itself can be found here.