Jazz music and the German language may seem like strange partners — but in Eurovision, anything is possible! After the Portuguese jazz waltz Amar pelos dois and the Italian stride piano number Madness of Love, we now hear the German swing entry Frauen regier’n die Welt (Women Rule the World) by Roger Cicero.
Cicero chose a unique musical career. He wanted to sing swing with traditional big band arrangements, but to modern listeners. It was an awkward blend of the old and the new that we often saw in his music videos. For instance, in Frauen regier’n die Welt video, we get a 1930s speakeasy in an alternative universe, where women behave like male stereotypes. Watch it below with English subtitles:
It’s a joke we all understand, isn’t it? But it’s a joke that works against the song’s true meaning.
According to the lyrics, “Frauen regier’n die Welt” because feminine beauty and charm alone can open a man’s “Tasche und Herz” — his pocket and his heart. Then he pays for “einen Ring und einen Nerz” — not just a ring, but also a mink coat! This is very true in the romantic sense; and I’m sure it is truer in the political sense than many women might like. “Sie . . . stürtzten Clinton/ Ohne dafür ‘ne Partei zu gründen” — They defeat Clinton without even founding a political party. If a woman can have political influence without being an official politician, then why do women need to be on the same playing field as men?
The first time I heard this Eurovision entry, I found it very condescending and did not like it. I think the video had a lot to do with that. It took the politics too literally.
As for the großer Auftritt or grand appearance . . . I also didn’t like it — but for different reasons! What I hated most was Roger Cicero’s name in big lights — as if he were putting himself before his country, although his country was the reason he was even there! He was not the first artist to realize that Eurovision would be his biggest chance to become an international star. But he will probably always be the most blatant.
In comparison to the video, however, the live show is so much better! When the song isn’t trying to be feminist-friendly, you realize that it’s not about power at all. It’s about love.
On the Eurovision stage, Cicero is just another man in love, wanting to tell the world about his wife . . . and possibly also their daughter. The woman who got him to propose at last and a tiny baby who has him fully “im Griff” — in her grip. And like all men in love, he is happy that his domestic “world” is “ruled” by them. Now that is what the song means!
Lost and Found in Translation
Frauen regier’n die Welt is mostly in German, but follows the Eurovision tradition of a final chorus in English. It’s not a direct translation of the German chorus, but something completely different. Yet it fits the meaning of the rest of the song perfectly. And it makes a better ending than the original chorus repeated twice!
How they look and smile
How they talk a while
They are making us think that we’re kings
Guess who is really pulling the strings
Just a glance, one move
Turns a “no” into “I approve”
And while your head’s in a whirl
And you’re calling her your little girl
Guess who rules the world?
In fact, it’s so good that I wish there were an official English version of the whole song.