Uproar after Germany's Eurovision hopeful bows out
The Eurovision song contest has had its fair share of controversy, but a shock move on live national TV by Germany's entry to bow out even before the event sparked a media storm Friday.
Rock and blues singer Andreas Kuemmert was picked by TV viewers in Germany's pre-contest Thursday evening to represent the country at the Eurovision final in Vienna on May 23.
But to all-round surprise -- and boos from the audience -- instead of celebrating his win on stage the 28-year-old said he couldn't accept.
"I'm a small singer," the performer said, announcing he was "overwhelmed" but would cede the title to second-placed Ann Sophie, 24, who ran up, stunned, and hugged him.
"I just think that she's simply much more qualified and suited," said the auburn-bearded singer, whose soulful style has been compared to late British singer Joe Cocker.
Bespectacled Kuemmert has grown in popularity since winning reality talent show, "The Voice of Germany", in 2013 and his decision topped radio and television news Friday.
"TV uproar," said popular mass daily Bild on its front page, adding "Winner doesn't want to sing for Germany" in what it said was an unprecedented decision.
"It's the biggest effrontery in the history of the contest," it added.
News weekly Spiegel's website commented that Kuemmert certainly wouldn't be forgotten in a hurry "as the grand singer who didn't want to win".
It praised him as an "independent, headstrong, genuine artist" who chose in the end to have nothing to do with the Eurovision "entertainment machinery".
"It's just a pity for us... The man could have won."
The singer's record label indicated that the build-up over the Eurovision contest had apparently become too much for Kuemmert.
© 2015 AFP