2017 Review: United Kingdom

So the UK actually selected their entry before Finland’s national final, and I didn’t get to watch it because I was at work. From what I heard off Twitter, the contest You Decide was somewhere between really awesome (by people in the venue sitting in close proximity to some VIP’s) and a vocal trainwreck with microphones breaking (by people watching the contest on BBC2). In the possibility that it was the latter scenario, BBC at least made its national final a bit more of a priority than last year by moving it from BBC4 to BBC2, and they pulled over one of the judges from Strictly Come Dancing for extra viewership.

After a few hours back at work I returned to Twitter at break time and saw the winner Lucie Jones perform her song “Never Give Up on You.”

Well it’s definitely not going on my work playlist because it’s way too calm, though it might work when paired against a dental drill. Otherwise I’d have to prepare myself to be in the right mood before listening to it, possibly while sitting in a café with a hot drink sometime.

Unlike the song that comes to mind when looking at the first three words (i.e. click here to be rickrolled), it’s a ballad a la Mikael Saari at UMK last year: vocals on point stripped back to just the artist, a simple backing track with strings, and lights. There’s no backdrop, no dancers, no backing vocalists. I partially questioned whether all the extra frills were just excluded from the budget, or whether the staging was supposed to be this simple. Maybe it would work in Kyiv if performed in a similar fashion, with a simple backdrop that doesn’t clash and a lot of dry ice on the ground that doesn’t flood Lucie Jones from the performance.

I guess the Beeb and a lot of the fandom decided to promote more that she’s an X-Factor artist who performed in the same year as Jedward (and finished one place lower than the duo who later went on to represent Ireland 2 years in a row), but why not also promote that she’s been a West End performer since 2010, debuting as Cosette in Les Misérables and currently playing in Rent? Adding that would have had a greater effect than “Former X-Factor artist performs song co-composed by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest”, and the focus would be on Lucie rather than her song’s composing team.

On a completely separate note, some people have been comparing “Never Give Up on You” to the Common Linnets’ “Calm After the Storm.” I don’t see any similarities. CATS has a driving beat, while NGUOY doesn’t. CATS is a duet, NGUOY is a solo. CATS is American-country-ish, NGUOY is Broadway/West End.

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2016 Review: United Kingdom

The BBC has tried national finals, only to place last twice in the past ten years. They’ve also tried internal selections; while some of them managed to escape the bottom 5, the results were still disappointing and the BBC has still been criticized for not letting the public have any input.

This year they returned to an open selection. While it was only on BBC4 instead of the main BBC channel, and the song choices weren’t on the level of the more popular national selections, it’s a step in the right direction. After a bit of technical difficulties (e.g. the microphones shorting out), the public eventually chose the duo Joe and Jake to represent the UK with “You’re Not Alone.”

For starters, they’re clearly not alone on stage, given that there are two people and not one (unlike Aram MP3). While it seems a bit inoffensive, a bit forgettable and cliché/cheesy, it’s definitely not the worst song in the mix. They can harmonize pretty well, which can be heard in their live performance videos at the promo parties, they’re enthusiastic about being a part of the world’s biggest music festival, and after signing their record deal they moved in with each other to commit to their music project. After a few listens the refrain gets a bit more memorable, given all the repetition of notes and the line “They don’t need to know-ow-ow-ow.” They’re also not singing the exact same few phrases throughout the entire song either.

So…don’t get last place? It’s either that they’ll get last place because the “terrible” entries are more memorable, or they could manage to get out of the bottom 5 because they can sing. (TML, but yes, I’ve got really low standards for them as of right now. And is it bad that I still don’t know which one is Joe and which one is Jake?)

And the winner is…Sweden!

I was going to post this yesterday, but congratulations to Sweden and Måns Zelmerlöw for winning the 60th Eurovision Song Contest with 365 points!

It’s also Sweden’s 6th win since ABBA in 1974.

Ranking:

1. Sweden- 365 points
2. Russia- 303 points
3. Italy- 292 points
4. Belgium- 217 points
5. Australia- 196 points
6. Latvia- 186 points
7. Estonia- 106 points
8. Norway- 102 points
9. Israel- 97 points
10. Serbia- 53 points
11. Georgia- 51 points
12. Azerbaijan- 49 points
13. Montenegro- 44 points
14. Slovenia- 39 points
15. Romania- 35 points
16. Armenia- 34 points (Tie Break)
17. Albania- 34 points
18. Lithuania- 30 points
19. Greece- 23 points (only 8 of which came from Cyprus)
20. Hungary- 19 points
21. Spain- 15 points
22. Cyprus- 11 points (And Greece only gave Cyprus 10 points. Death and taxes are still guaranteed, but Greece and Cyprus exchanging 12 points isn’t anymore.)

23. Poland- 10 points
24. United Kingdom- 5 points
25. France- 4 points
26. Germany- 0 points (There were points somewhere in the split voting but they disappeared)
27. Austria- 0 points

 

 

2015 Review: United Kingdom

A lot of songs get wiped out for being meh. They’re not horrible, but they’re not excellent either, so they don’t get any media coverage. And then there are the songs that pretty much send an extra-large jar of marmite. That includes the UK this year.

The BBC went for internal selections of an unknown artist for the second year in a row, this year selecting Electro Velvet (Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas) and their song “Still in Love with You.” And once the song got revealed, the public exploded, saying that the BBC had no idea how the ESC world worked. Though they (probably) learned that selecting an artist or composer famous for hits in the last generation might not work, the biggest complaint is that the BBC appears really isolated from the ESC world.

While I’m on the negative side for marmite (since IMO it tastes like eating a spoonful of miso paste out of the jar), I’m on the positive side for the UK’s entry this year. The song’s upbeat, it’s really Ohrwurm-y, but most of all the memes of Alex Larke’s face are amazing. (credit: electrovelvet.tumblr.com, no relation to the actual group).

Since it’s now May, it’s time to make sure I don’t
a) get on the wrong train
b) fly on an old plane
c) get sneezes and/or nasty diseases
in order to not miss Eurovision week. (But I have work the day of the final, and that’s going to be great…)