It’s been a tough 19 years for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest (we last won in 1997) but that doesn’t mean this year’s representatives, Joe & Jake, have given up hope of winning the competition.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t win. I mean that’s why we’re in it, that’s why we’ve been working so hard”, Joe Woolford tells RadioTimes.com.
“With a public vote and a jury vote, you know voting in general, there is no way to kind of say ‘this person could win or this person could win’ because I think with the standard being so high this year that anyone could win”, says Jake Shakeshaft.
“But we’ve got a lot of faith in ourselves, a lot of faith in our song and all that we know is we’re going to go out there and do the best we possibly can. So far that’s been making a lot of people really happy with our performance, with us, so we’re just going to have to see how it goes on the night. But, we don’t see any reason why not.”
Joe – who comes from Ruthin in North Wales – and Jake – who hails from Stoke-on-Trent – will perform in the second half of Saturday’s Grand Final in Stockholm, singing You’re Not Alone.
The boys were selected to represent the UK by the viewers during BBC4’s Eurovision You Decide back in March, and perhaps that’s why they’re not too worried about another televote – or even perturbed by the concept of political voting.
“It’s not for us to get involved really”, Joe begins. “Whether we do or not [believe in it] it’s irrelevant”, Jake adds.
“It’s the Eurovision Song Contest isn’t it, so we’re just focusing on our song” Joe continues. “Whatever we do it’s not going to change how people think and see us. At the end of the day the only thing we can do is focus on our performance, give it the best we can, get our stage presence as good as it can be.”
Honing their stage presence is something they spent plenty of time doing on The Voice UK, where they first met back in 2014. Jake was on Team will.i.am and departed during the Knockouts, while Joe made it all the way to the semi-finals on Team Rita.
They even reveal that Ricky Wilson’s mum voted for them to represent the UK at Eurovision.
That said, how do they feel about the show’s big shift to ITV? “I’m intrigued to see what they do with it” says Jake, while Joe says he thinks the format is pretty strong.
“They don’t need to change much in terms of the format” he explains, “but I’m sure they’ll get a new line-up of coaches on there. We loved the line-up we had in our year.”
“I think what we’ve been talking about the most in terms of changing anything is they should lengthen the live shows a bit more because there’s only three live shows. It doesn’t really give the live acts much chance to show themselves in a live setting”, Jake says.
“Where like, say on The X Factor, you’ve got weeks and weeks and weeks of live shows, and they do different things and show off different talents. You don’t have as long on The Voice I suppose so I think it’d be nice to see the live shows spread out a bit longer, maybe different weeks and things like that but y’know, that might be happening”, he continues.
“I think everything, in terms of Blinds, The Battles, The Knockouts, I think it’s a really unique formula you know. And I think they should definitely keep that.”
Do they wish they’d gone for X Factor instead, then? “No, The Voice was cool, we’re happy with our experience on it”, Joe answers confidently. “It’s a bit late now, isn’t it?”, Jake cheekily grins.
It’s clear that Jake’s the cheekier of the pair, so it’s little wonder that he’s first to pipe up about some of the more peculiar requests the pair have had ahead of their big Eurovision performance.
“We’ve been getting some weird advice” he teases. ““Yeah, there were actually a fair few requests for us both to snog at the end of the song”, explains Joe.
“Let’s not take anything off the table”, Jake winks, just as Joe quite clearly states “that’s not going to happen”.
“All right, denied” sighs Jake. “REJECTED!” laughs Joe before clarifying that they do take everything on board.
Even the suggestions that they’ve got a bit of an Ant and Dec vibe going on – the duo sit on the sofa in formation, and they’re standing in Joe & Jake order in almost every single piece of promotional material.
“It’s even got to the point where we’re walking down the street and if I’m on the wrong side Jake’s just like, c’mon”, says Joe.
Are they after the Geordie duo’s crown, then? “I don’t think it’s possible, they’re legends. We admire Ant and Dec”, says Joe. “Can we create like, a foursome?” asks Jake.
With a record deal with Sony in the bag no matter what the outcome of their Eurovision bid is, it’s not entirely beyond the realms of possibility to think they might follow in Ant & Dec’s footsteps one day.
For now though, their focus is on Stockholm and Saturday night’s Eurovision Grand Final. “It’s tunnel Eurovision”, says Jake, “we just want to do our best for The UK.”
The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final will air on BBC1 and BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 14th May from 8pm