A poll conducted by German tabloid Bild suggests that Thursday's race to represent Germany in Athens will be closer than ever, with all three candidates earning a sizeable chunk of the votes.
Ex-Modern Talking star Thomas Anders pipped former Eurovision Song Contest winner Vicky Leandros to the post in the poll, drawing a total of 37.87% of the votes over her 33.73%. Olli Dietrich's band Texas Lightning are hot on the heels of both artists, coming in at a very respectable 28.4%. That means there is a margin of less than ten percent separating the three acts in Thursday's final – something which must be making this a very tense week in all three camps.
The three songs are getting heightened media attention in the lead-up to the final, and were performed on the popular prime-time show Wetten, dass …? on Saturday. Bild points out that those performances were playback rather than live, so viewers' perceptions may well change when all are required to sing live on Thursday. To showcase their vocal talents, each one of the hopefuls will present not only their own song, but a Eurovision Song Contest classic as well. Vicky Leandros could be seen as having the advantage here, being the voice behind two classic song contest tracks herself. She is certainly keen to right Germany's wrongs of 2005, stating that Gracia Baur's last place in Kyiv was undeserved.
No Modern Talking reunion
The press had relished the idea of a Modern Talking reunion in Athens, a hope which was dashed as Anders' former bandmate Dieter Bohlen's song crashed out of the Romanian national selection. Indiggo, singing Bohlen's europop number Be my boyfriend, only achieved a seventh place in Bucharest. Anders himself is keener than ever to win the ticket to Athens, and is cautious about taking anything for granted: “he who underestimates the competition has lost already”, he says. At least former partner Bohlen will no longer be a threat of competition if Anders proceeds to the international final.
Newly appointed to the task of heading Germany's Eurovision preparations, NDR's Head of Entertainment Jan Schulte-Kellinghaus stresses the quality of this year's candidates to fly the flag. “Our songs and performers are so good, that the prospects are excellent”, he reports. Moreover, he refuses to believe that this year could possibly go wrong for Germany given the preparations underway, and as proof of the broadcaster's commitment to the contest, he informs fans that planning for the 2007 national selection will begin on 10th March, only a day after the 2006 final.
The feeling is not all positive, however – reports last week confirmed that Germany's only winner, Nicole, has refused to sing her 1982 entry Ein bisschen Frieden in the show, due to it being a cut-down 90-second version. “For such a mini-performance, my time is too precious”, she explains. “I'd rather go out with my children for a pizza”.
Treats for fans tuning in on Thursday will still include an appearance by Corinna May, whose 1999 song for Germany was disqualified, paving the way for a third place in Jerusalem for runners-up Sürpiz. Corinna returned to represent Germany in 2002 with the Ralph Siegel number I can't live without music. Siegel himself is absent from the German final this year, having written the Swiss entry for Athens instead.
The Olsen brothers (Denmark 2000) and Dana International (Israel 1998) are also planned into the evening's schedule.
The live show will play to a full house after a total ticket sell-out. People not attending the show live can tune in at 20:15 CET this Thursday, 9th March.