The United Kingdom announced its Eurovision entry on Thursday 27th February and it”s the turn of James Newman with My Last Breath.
In a change from previous years, there was not much fanfare around the actual announcement. No public selection process in the form of the BBC’s You Decide, not much in the way of rumours either.
To top it off, when Greg James announced the performer on his Radio 1 breakfast show, Newman wasn’t even there to respond.
The whole thing just felt a bit… flat. Eurovision is arguably the biggest TV event on the planet, gaining millions upon millions of viewers every year – even bagging a fair few in the United Kingdom as well – so why is there not more excitement around it?
The people who love Eurovision will always love Eurovision, but beyond the real obsessives? There has been talk for the past couple of years about whether the UK should even be in Eurovision anymore, considering the impact of Brexit, the fact we lose all the time, and this year, I would add how we simply don’t seem to care anymore.
Let’s not forget how much the UK actually spends on Eurovision. It’s believed the BBC paid £310,000 to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for a guaranteed place in the final and the right to show the programme in 2012, according to the Adam Smith Institute. That’s probably increased a little bit over the years, but why do we pay anything if it’s a show the British people know we will probably never win?
It’s worth noting the BBC’s payment to the EBU covers a variety of things, including “news exchange, rights to concert broadcasts and activities around the Olympics”, according to the Adam Smith Institute. However, there are believed to be further costs to the BBC around Eurovision, which includes “travel, hotels, and incidentals for its broadcast staff”.
Removing the public voting aspect from choosing the entry shows the ambivalence surrounding the process, which can only filter through to the contest itself.
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And the song itself? Sure, it’s pleasant enough, but that’s probably about the best thing you can say about it. Nice lyrics, a strong vocal from Newman, but nothing we haven’t heard before.
Look at previous winners, like Israel’s Netta and Conchita Wurst’s Rise Like A Phoenix in Austria, who put on very different performances but were united by their effort and ambition.
The UK on the other hand have found a particular talent at landing bottom of the results board with their same, old predictable format – and realistically we’ll be back there with minimal points yet again.
We need something different. We need the diversity and creativity shown in our actual music industry to be reflected in our Eurovision entry. We consistently pump out incredible artists across the world, with the likes of Stormzy, Little Mix and Lewis Capaldi showing the diversity of our talent and also the global attraction and power we have.
Sadly, another Eurovision ballad with a lovely message just won’t cut it.
So while it looks like 2020 won’t be our year, there’s always 2021. Unless we finally give up entirely by then.