Reviewing the Eurovision: You Decide candidates so you don’t have to

Originally published in The Edge

The Eurovision Song Contest is a glorious celebration of everything endearingly (and horrifyingly) bizarre about our extended continent. (Here’s a 425-word love letter I composed around a year ago to that effect.) It’s just a shame that, at least in recent memory, the UK hasn’t quite got the memo.

Since 2003’s nul points courtesy of Jemini being so bad at performing music on a stage in front of a television audience of millions that it was actually mildly adorable, only Jade Ewen has experienced life in the top 10. Blue, the first act to be selected internally after the public chose Josh Dubovie in 2010 as the lamb for the slaughter last-place finish and the record low of 179 in the singles chart, reunited to be the only other act to follow and dwell in the all-important left-hand side of the table at the end of the evening.

You’d think that these moderately successful flirtations with genuine contemporary-ish pop talent would have given the powers that be at the BBC some kind of idea of what it takes to not embarrass the nation on the most important of political stages. So they then picked Engelbert Humperdinck, who hadn’t picked up a hit single since 1972, and Bonnie Tyler, who hadn’t picked up a hit single since 1984, in an effort to suggest that the only people who cared about Eurovision in any way were the same audience that found the musical selections on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show to be verging on shockingly cutting-edge.

The particular brand of abject failure displayed by Electro Velvet’s 2015 entry – a Gatsby-appropriating debacle of squelching sci-fi synths – beckoned a revitalisation of the TV selection process, but the 24th place finish was the same for Joe And Jake, former contestants on The Voice who covered Jason Mraz and Coldplay before finding fans in the BBC Four audience.

This year’s lineup of six contestants, announced earlier this week on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show, do at least get the chance to warble on BBC Two for your affections. Will any of them be demonstrating moments that could snap this slump? Can anybody Scooch it up and just be so ridiculous for three minutes that you can’t help but guiltily develop a massive soft spot that endures a decade later? Are we destined for a floundering scatter of X Factor rejects who will make the rest of the audience – including Australia – rush to change the channel before you can say “red, white, and blue Brexit”? Let’s embrace the inevitable pain together. Continue reading “Reviewing the Eurovision: You Decide candidates so you don’t have to”