Since the inception of Eurovision, the UK has consistently come in the top 10 finalists, with only the odd entry finishing in the bottom half of the table. However, since the turn of the century, finding a winning UK entry has been as elusive as finding a liberal at a Trump rally. After many years of allowing the public a choice in their entry, in 2011 the powers that be at the BBC came to the realisation that perhaps it may not be wise to allow the common folk of the UK to make such important decisions – leaving it to internal experts. Sadly this did nothing to improve the continued losing streak and in 2015 the public were once again involved in the process with Eurovision: You Decide.
Lack of Success
Last year the process gave us Joe and Jake who represented us in Stockholm with You’re Not Alone which did not seem to fare any better than recent previous entries. Despite the lack of success over recent years, just like any other self-respecting Eurovision fan I settled down to watch the population of the UK make the most important decision of 2017 (thus far). After the re-election of the Tories in 2015 and the result of the EU referendum in 2016, I can’t say that I was optimistic for a positive outcome.
I am told that the BBC is starting to take Eurovision more seriously, however, when compared to the rest of Europe, Eurovision: You Decide seems somewhat of an afterthought in the BBC calendar. To decide their representative, for example, Swedish television holds an X-Factor style competition which lasts for 5 weeks and is the most watched TV programme in Sweden – with somewhere near half the population watching the finals. This format allows 32 acts to be considered by the public and has delivered 5 top 5 places in the last 6 years.
A Love Song for Europe
Here in the UK, in contrast, we were given the pleasure of reviewing 6 mediocre songs, delivered by previous X-Factor contestants. Now don’t get me wrong…all of the performers were good and some of the vocals were amazing. Lucie Jones – this year’s winner with Never Give Up On You gave an honest, emotional and competent performance. I’m sure she will prove to be a safe pair of lungs on the night in Kiev. However, the song lacked substance, seemed overly repetitive, lacking impact or climax – a common theme among the songs presented tonight. I hope that I‘m wrong but when compared to previous winners, this song just doesn’t stand a chance – unless we can somehow ensure that the rest of Europe believes the tune is actually a love song to Europe apologising for Brexit?! Just a thought!
Generally the staging for all entries was pretty poor and the fierce competition of today’s Eurovision means that we can no longer simply rely on a catchy tune or a stunning singer. Just look at the last two winners of Eurovision for example, Mans Zelmerlow representing Sweden in 2015 with the interactive animations and Jamala’s huge burning tree. Even those songs that failed to get the top spot such as Russia’s Sergey Lazarev climbing the protruding wall and Dami Im’s huge box during Sound of Silence were visually incredible but also spectacular in terms of singing, performance, lyrics, tune and staging. The BBC’s offerings lacked variety and overwhelmingly relied on the love and peace theme. Only Danyl Johnson and Selena Mastroianni had any backing dancers and were the only ones who seemed energetic with catchy up-beat tunes. Sadly, Danyl’s backing vocals started off bad and the song n
ever really recovered. Neither Johnson or Madtroianni was strong enough vocally on the night. There was a distinct lack of production for all contestants; generally lacking any wow factor, pyrotechnics, fireworks or backing dancers. I’ll be honest, I don’t even remember half of the performances! The BBC clearly scrimped on the staging and production which was a huge insult to the talent on the stage.
The Good Bits
The opening act in the form of Eurovision royalty Alexander Rybak with his cheeky smile and violin was enjoyable and a great start to the show. It was also a pleasure to re-experience Mans and Petra performing Love Love Peace Peace from last year’s finals – which just happens to be the single most YouTubed video in my house ever! These acts really did show just the kind of talent that our representative is likely to be up against this year. The highlight of the show was definitely the talented, quirky and beautiful Mel Giedroyc. She carried the show and my attention throughout. Her conversational tone along with her professional and passionate style made my evening. And unlike some on Twitter, I didn’t mind her continually saying “Eurovish”.
A Privilege to Represent your Country?
We have so many talented singers, song writers and one of the best music industries in the world – Eurovision should be a doddle. We export our music all over the world! The 6 options offered to us were unlikely to be the best the U.K. has to offer. Perhaps the problem is that many people in the UK don’t take much interest in Eurovision, and while some see it as an “airy-fairy” “let’s all love one another and bring Europe closer together” type affair, the rest of Europe has embraced the competition. Yes it can be a little camp, and a little alternative but other countries take it seriously, putting forward their most talented artists. In the rest of Europe it is seen as a privilege to represent your country. Unfortunately, over this side of the channel, however, there is real fear that taking part could end your career faster than Teresa May can privatise the NHS. For a more detailed discussion click here to see our Dave’s piece from last year on why the UK never wins Eurovision anymore and why not watch Eurovision: You Decide (if you haven’t already) and see if you agree.