This week, my parents and I rank the most recent UK entries as we warm up for the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2021.
The UK’s relationship with Eurovision is a difficult one. Ireland and the UK were undisputed champions leading up to the year 2000. Originally, countries could only sing in an official language of their country, giving English speaking countries a significant advantage.
But everything shifted in 1999, as the rules were changed to allow countries to sing in any language they liked; since then the UK have pretty much been left in the dust.
A couple of weeks ago my parents and I ranked the recent winners of Eurovision, you can catch up on that article by clicking here.
The experience ended up with my parents and I having interesting conversations about art and music, which is absolutely one of my favourite things to do, so we’re doing it all over again.
The rules are the same as last time. We must individually rank the 11 entries in secret, and give our points at the end.
1st place: 12 points
2nd place: 10 points
3rd place: 8 points
then 7, 6, 5… down to 0 points for 11th place.
After watching all the live grand final performances, this was how we ranked our UK entries.
[TIE] Last Place: ‘That Sounds Good To Me’ by Josh Dubovie (2010)
Actual Eurovision Placing: LAST /25
I LOVE this song. It has a horribly dated 80’s sound, and that combined with Josh Dubovie’s dead behind the eyes performance places it in the same territory as SNL parody game shows. Add dancers in tracksuits and backup singers who thought that pitch meant a football field and we have pure chaos that is somehow also boring.
Poor sweet Josh, he was a handsome and innocent bystander who had to carry on as a train wreck destroyed his career. This was so awful for him that he had to change his name lol. Just listen to the song on Spotify like I do, it’s a bop.
[TIE] Last Place: ‘Bigger Than Us‘ by Michael Rice (2019)
Actual Eurovision Placing: LAST /26
Michael Rice won the first season of the BBC’s singing competition ‘All Together Now’ which was so popular that it got cancelled a year after it’s debut. With that considered, why would the BBC think he had enough stage presence for 200 million people?
It’s unfortunate, and Michael is not to blame as he does have the big voice, but he got completely overshadowed by his backup singers in the charisma department. I’m being harsh, but I’m particularly annoyed because he genuinely seems to think he’s Beyonce when the song is Pixie Lott. Somebody at the BBC lied to him several times…
9th Place: ‘Believe In Me‘ by Bonnie Tyler (2013)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 19th /26
I’m probably going to get dragged for this, but she simply sounds awful. I feel that, in general, people remember Bonnie’s performance with great fondness and admiration. As a result I did too, until I watched it back and realised it’s a complete nightmare, even by UK Standards.
Now Bonnie is Welsh and I lived in Cardiff for a few years so maybe that is why I remember it as being better than it actually is. That being said, there is something very endearing about an older Welsh lady asking an audience of 200million to ‘believe in me’, but even Bonnie’s charisma was not enough to save this middle of the road pop-ballad.
8th Place: ‘Children Of The Universe‘ by Molly (2014)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 17th /26
I just knew this would do well with Dad, because it feels classy. After a string of established artists failed to win Eurovision, the BBC returned to promoting new talent. This first attempt by Molly was nothing to scoff at. She sounds amazing, and the song feels almost like a Florence + The Machine anthem. (B-side)
However, the first rule of Eurovision is don’t do anything too similar to last years winner. I think Molly’s image featuring strange hand symbols and a nymph-like dress was too reminiscent of Emmelie de Forest, and as such paled in comparison. The song also doesn’t really mean anything to me, as the UK isn’t exactly known for spirituality and political liberation.
7th Place: ‘Storm‘ by SuRie (2018)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 24th /26
SuRie had a very odd run. The BBC plugged her as this sort of ‘Eurovision professional’ because she sang back up for Belgium’s entry in 2015. The song then underwent numerous changes to find a sound that was right.. and she ended up with this middle of the road synth number and an image that looks like Vicky McClure got dunked in bleach.
Then on the night, everything changed as a stage invader grabbed her mic and started spurting about ‘Nazis of the UK media…’ and then quacking. Suddenly, the song had a completely different meaning, and it ignited a fire in her eyes that got the entire audience on her side in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately the passion could not save a boring song.
SuRie was offered a chance to perform again after all the acts had performed, but she declined. I’m assuming because she was already knee deep in alcohol by that point.
6th Place: ‘It’s My Time‘ by Jade Ewen (arr. Andrew Lloyd-Webber) 
Actual Eurovision Placing: 5th /25
This appearing 6th in this ranking is an absolute crime against Eurovision, the UK, and explains why I have a overnight bag in my car ready to go. We actually tried very hard this year and placed 5th out of 25! My parents don’t think this is Eurovision enough, but I could not disagree more. Eurovision is all about representing what your country does best musically, in a fun and campy way (with key changes).
This entry has all that and more: an ex-Sugababe singing a Lloyd-Webber West End ballad whilst she gets bonked in the face by a violin at 1:05 and keeps going! I mean it’s no Lloyd-Webber masterpiece; a friend once described this song as one that Andrew ‘forgot to write, so he wrote it in the taxi on the way to the BBC studio’… but for the UK in Eurovision, this is incredible.
5th Place: ‘Still In Love With You‘ by Electro Velvet (2015)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 24th /27
I absolutely adore this song, an electro-swing duet about staying safe on holiday (and not getting STD’s). However, I simply couldn’t in good conscience award it more points, and that’s because of this performance. There is so much visual interest, from the Gatsby iconography to the neon/blacklight dance breaks, and somehow the whole thing just feels… flat.
I don’t think the two singers are plausibly a couple, or particularly charismatic individually (‘oh yes!’). The choreography is especially clunky at the start, right up until the part where the white man starts… scatting; then suddenly the visuals look really effective. Do you know what, the more I talk about it, I think I should have given it more points. It’s an iconic moment.
[TIE] 3rd/4th Place: ‘I Can‘ by Blue (2011)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 11th /25
This entry came during the period where the BBC were seeing if ‘famous’ artists could succeed at Eurovision, and Blue kind of nailed the assignment. Lee Ryan is looking absolutely fine whilst carrying those lead vocals and the boyband manage to keep a very high level of energy needed for the competition.
The song itself is far from timeless, thoroughly planted in that pop sound at the turn of the decade where every song could feature Ludacris and/or Flo Rida. But at the time this was modern, this was cool, and this was charming. I don’t think Blue’s ‘fame’ really had anything to do with its success.
[TIE] 3rd/4th Place: ‘Never Give Up On You‘ by Lucie Jones (2017)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 15th /26
‘Never Give Up On You‘ to me will forever be an anti-Brexit anthem. This was our first entry since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, and our Eurovision position became even more precarious. Call me a conspiracist but I believe the song and the message was a completely deliberate choice in light of the referendum. It even sounds like ‘I Will Never Give Up On E-U’.
Lucie Jones of X-Factor fame, another Welsh darling, gives one of the best vocal performances the UK has sent in ages. The staging is simple yet beautiful with that reflective mirror piece giving the performance a completely different edge. When you’re from the UK, 15th in Eurovision almost feels like a win.
2nd Place: ‘You’re Not Alone‘ by Joe & Jake (2016)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 24th /26
I’m almost convinced that my Mum is strategically voting to ensure nice young men succeed, but that would be unfair to how good this song is. Don’t get me wrong, this song isn’t winning any awards, but it absolutely would be a radio 2 smash for One Direction and/or Coldplay.
I think the performance was let down by the staging, the family pictures flashing on the LED screens behind feel like a last minute decision for a bootleg One Direction concert; completely drowning out the interest of having two drummers and two male singers. Abstract staging is usually far more successful at Eurovision, stop telling us what to feel and let the song speak!
1st Place: ‘Love Will Set You Free‘ by Engelbert Humperdinck (2012)
Actual Eurovision Placing: 25th /26
Performance-wise, there isn’t much that’s instantly showy and/or memorable from the UK’s 2012 entry. Couple that with the fact that on the night the UK performed first out of 26 songs, and you can understand the placement we recieved. But, if you listen closer, this song is hauntingly good. There is a deep deep sadness expressed in this song, but there is also a fantastic sense of optimism!
Engelbert has been there done that and seen it all, but he still sounds so good! The staging is reserved, and it simply allows the listener to hear this Chopin-like waltz. A key change occurs as multiple Catherine wheels go off, which still gives it the Eurovision sense of not taking itself to seriously, but I seriously love this song.
I am a little surprised that Englebert placed first in this list. I thought he may do slightly well with my parents but in the end the voting seemed pretty universal. I’m still not over the absolute snub of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Jade Ewen, but we live in a democratic household and I must adhere to that.
Nevertheless I convinced my parents to take part in yet another Eurovision voting session so I had a fantastic time anyway. If you haven’t read our last ranking of the Eurovision winners you can click here.
The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will take place on Saturday May 22nd on BBC One.
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