Eurovision Nominee

Hitting the Wrong Note

naidoo.DPA
Xavier Naidoo is one of Germany's most popular singers, but has the tide turned against him?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany performed dismally in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and had hoped to do better in 2016 with popular soul singer Xavier Naidoo. But the country had to pull his nomination after controversial remarks about gays and other groups.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A successful pop musician, Mr. Naidoo has been criticized for embracing conspiracy theories and flirting with far-right political groups, which he denies.
    • His supporters say he is a misunderstood artist who could perform well in the wildy popular competition.
    • Last year, the singer selected to represent Germany declined to compete, and his replacement finished last place in the contest.
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  • Audio

    Audio

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After a storm of controversy, German singer Xavier Naidoo won’t perform at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm next May after all.

Accused of homophobia and racism by some, the native of Mannheim, south of Frankfurt, sparked a social media storm that doomed his nomination as Germany’s representative just a few days after it was announced.

Organizers pulled the plug on the singer on Saturday after representatives of Germany’s gay and lesbian community, and some other social welfare groups, called for a boycott of the contest because of controversial remarks made by Mr. Naidoo, which some had interpreted as anti-gay and, in one case, an endorsement of child molestation.

Mr. Naidoo denied the accusations, saying his song lyrics and recent remarks about right-wing politics in Germany or child abuse were not endorsements but attempts to begin a dialog on controversial issues.

But his candidacy became untenable less than a week after a handful of German politicians also began speaking out against the choice. The retraction of Mr. Naidoo — his replacement has not yet been found — was the second consecutive embarrassment for Germany after the country’s nominee last year won a national competition and decided at the last minute not to compete at the event.

“It was clear that [Mr. Naidoo] was polarizing, but the force of the reactions surprised us,” said Thomas Schrieber, the entertainment coordinator for state-owned broadcaster ARD, which this year through its NDR affiliate chose Mr. Naidoo as the country’s nominee without a popular vote.

Mr. Naidoo is a soulful, melodic singer who achieved the height of his mainstream fame in Germany in 2006 with his song “This Way,” which became the unofficial anthem of Germany’s hosting of the soccer World Cup. While the popular recording artist is an “outstanding singer,” the controversy could “seriously damage” the event, Mr. Schrieber said in explaining the decision to dump him.

Mr. Naidoo, who also uses the stage name Kobra, responded to the public broadcaster’s decision by calling it “one-sided,” but did not directly address the controversy.

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