Next Friday the United Kingdom will choose their entry for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. In recent years the BBC has taken the ultimate decision and for the most part chose either bland or extremely cringe worthy entries, which obviously weren’t hits with the rest of Europe. This year though, they have finally listened to the public’s pleas and, for the first time since 2008, the public will decide both the artist and the song. Whilst on paper this seems a good step forward, is a national final really the best way to bring the UK back to its glory days?
The Dark Days of Internal Selection
For the last five years the BBC has made the decision of who should represent the country without any consultation from the public. Ultimately this has backfired, which can be seen from the results. Blue managed a respectable 11th in 2011 but could have done better had they not blown their chances in the jury final, whilst 2014 entrant Molly had forgettable staging in her otherwise successful song “Children of the Universe”. The remaining years featured singers past their prime and the less said about last year’s horror show, the better (I’m still surprised we didn’t finish last). Looking at it from this perspective a national final seems a good way to improve.
But, we weren’t much good even when we did choose the package.
The Even Darker Days of the Mid-2000s
On the other hand, it was easy to see why the BBC took the decision away from the public. The 2000s were ultimately a period to forget for the UK, not that the general quality of Eurovision was as high as it is now. The hybrid system of 2009 only worked because of Jade Ewen’s brilliant vocals on the clichéd “It’s My Time”. The entries before that though tended to be ex-boy/girlband members trying to forge a solo career, or joke entries. Who could forget the quartet of air hosts and hostesses? Or the rapper in a luminous yellow jacket surrounded by females in Britney-esque school uniforms? It wasn’t much surprise that Europe didn’t bite, despite several other countries being successful with joke acts. For all of those people who cried tactical voting, would you honestly buy the singles yourself?
Let’s hope that this year the quality of entries in the national selection is closer to what we would hear on the mainstream radios.
So how is it shaping up?
When the BBC announced the national final, there was hope that the quality of entries brought in would be significantly higher, especially when it was announced that they would be working with the OGAE (Eurovision Fan Club) to narrow the shortlist down. In recent days though there is a bit of discomfort, not least because journalists are starting to state that the OGAE could only recommend one entry (two if they are brilliant) and only one other would come from the British Academy of Songwriters (BASCA). The remaining acts, it was stated, would come direct from contacts within the music industry, which normally equates to ex-band members. This may have been proven correct in the last couple of days with the tabloids stating that Matthew Pateman (the lead singer from 90s boyband Bad Boys Inc) was one of the six entries. The songs will be played tomorrow (Monday 22nd) on Radio 2 so Eurovision fans will get to know the songs before the final on Friday the 26th. The decision to stage it on BBC Four is a good one at the end of the day as it promotes live music and potentially the majority will be die-hard fans who want a good sounding entry. I think I speak for all UK fans by saying I hope the songs and singers are, at the very least, better than what has come before.
So what do you think? Do you think a National Selection is the way to go or are you resigned to another poor finish in Stockholm 2016? Tell me what you think in the comments section below.