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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

That sounded ok to me but not to Europe 

The 2010 Eurovision Song Contest has come and gone. It’s probably a bit late for me to write about it now and I wasn’t going to bother posting this but some letters in this week’s RadioTimes have prompted me to post this after all.
Here I attempt to answer the eternal question: what happened to the UK?
What went wrong?
I should say that I did actually like our song but I am a huge fan of Eighties music and our song definitely had the stamp of the Eighties on it. It would not have sounded out of place as a early Kylie, a Sonia or as a Rick Astley number. If we’d entered it in 1987 we would have won hands down. Unfortunately, this is 2010 and the people of Eurovision-land weren’t impressed.
The Great British public had no choice over the song this year but we did have a choice of singer. Last year we had a selection process lasting weeks; this year we had one evening. Last year we had a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber (but again no choice); this year Pete Waterman. Last year we came fifth; this year we were last out of twenty five.
Although we had a choice of singers, I wasn’t impressed with any of the acts that were presented to us to choose from and I really wondered where they had been found. It seemed that the producers had run outside and grabbed random groups of strangers, regardless of personality or talent. I think there was a girl group pulled together especially for the evening. They didn’t know each other and it showed. The singer chosen, Josh, was agreeable enough but he was the best of a bad lot, unfortunately. We could have done a lot better.
Thirdly, and this cannot be stated in a polite way unfortunately, the backing singers on the night were flat.  
What went right?
I enjoyed the songs a lot more on the CD than on television in either of the semi-finals or the final itself. I guess that just goes to show that everything benefits from a bit of a post-production tweak here and there. I should also say that I enjoyed the winning song from Germany – it was one of my favourites before I saw the show and even if some of the singer’s pronunciation was dodgy to say the least, I think it deserved to win. Lena’s performance only enhanced the song and captured the attention of the camera and the audience.
Incidentally, our selection process usually garners criticism from around Europe. It has been said in the past that we never take the contest seriously because we have people chosen by talent contest rather than using established professional performers. That simply does not hold water now – several other countries selected their performers selected their singers this way this year and, indeed, Lena, the German singer, was chosen through a talent show.
The usual excuse for the UK getting nowhere is that the voting system is biased and that countries will vote for their neighbours and friends. I have seen this trotted out again this year but, really, I don’t think that’s the case now. The recent changes to the voting system seem to have made it a lot fairer and less inclined to bias – again, how could Germany have won if everyone was voting for their bestest fwiends? Of course, there will always be Greece and Cyprus but splitting them up will take something more radical than the Eurovision organisers could devise.
Another reason that Germany won was because they got their song noticed. They picked it and then put it in the charts around Europe where it did very well. Did we do anything similar? I didn’t even hear a mention of our song between the night it was picked and when the Eurovision CD came out.
Germany’s song was also cleverly written with elements from the various countries around the Eurovision zone making themselves known without sounding like a slavish copy. How many violins did we see this year? How many copied Turkey the year after they won? Satellite’s dominant beat hinted at the dominant beats of some of the Eastern entries but lacked the other elements that make them sound so similar.
The rest of the song was a rather upbeat number about the madness of love and was sung joyfully by a girl with a lovely smile. No wonder it did well.
Next Year
We should learn from this year. It is possible for us to do better although I can understand us not wanting to win. These things are expensive to host and we’re already paying another huge event, the 2012 Olympics so perhaps we don’t want to win. National pride, however, demands we do better than last.

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