In a few months time the world’s wackiest and most extravagant music festival, the Eurovision Song Contest, will return to our screens. This year the contest is being held in Kiev, Ukraine after Jamala’s victory with “1944”. But if that feels too long for British fans then don’t fret because on Friday night the United Kingdom will pick their representative for the contest. Here’s a small preview of what to expect.
When can I watch it?
Last year the BBC chose to hold their national selection in the end of February but this time around it’s on Friday the 27th of January, which is one of the earliest. This will give fans a chance to compare all the other entries to ours. Given that it’s the United Kingdom and the BBC, I’d recommend doing the comparisons with a large glass of wine. You can catch the show live on BBC two at 7:30pm.
Where is it being held?
In 2016 the BBC faced criticism for their poor choice of venue in the national selection. This year it is being held at the Hammersmith Apollo, which actually was where the special 60th anniversary show was held, so it feels like a more suitable place to find the UK representative. Tickets are still being sold for the event and you can find them through the BBC You Decide website. Those who go will get to see a Q&A session with the 2009 winner Alexander Rybak, the 2011 winner Nikki Jamal and the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Jon Ola Sand. The show itself is being hosted by self-confessed mega fan Mel Giedroyc, who was a blast last year as host of You Decide and commentator for the semi-finals of the contest itself. Rybak is also performing as an interval act for You Decide, along with The Vamps, though I highly doubt either of them will match up to the magnificence of Katrina singing “Love Shine a Light” to last year’s adoring crowd.
Who is taking part?
Similar to last year, the potential entries had to go through several selection processes, with industry professionals acting as consultants. The six songs selected were presented to the public for the first time on The Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2 and here they are:
Olivia Garcia – “Freedom Hearts”
Holly Brewer – “I Wish I Loved You More”
Lucie Jones – “Never Give Up on You”
Danyl Johnson – “Light Up the World”
Salena Mastroianni – “I Don’t Wanna Fight”
Nate Simpson – “What Are We Made Of”
If you are a die-hard fan of the X Factor UK then you will notice that all of these have taken part in the show before, with Jones and Johnson appearing on the live shows back in 2009. This is somewhat disappointing if you compare the field to last year, which was a good balance of talent show and self-built acts that represented several different genres.
Reviewing the Songs
First of all it is worth noting that I don’t hate any of the songs in the national selection. But on the other hand they are too similar to differentiate and all feel too beige to succeed at Eurovision. With all that said, here is my ranking of the songs, from 6 to 1. The links to the songs can be found by clicking on the corresponding song title. Odds are correct at the time of writing.
6) Salena Mastroianni – “I Don’t Wanna Fight” – 5/10
The messiest song of the national selection comes from Salena, who asks “Why can’t we put our weapons down?” over a bog standard dance track. Technically, this will probably be the hardest to sing live and female dance songs haven’t done very well recently in Eurovision. Even Cascada came near the bottom of the leaderboard in 2013. Honestly it feels like new lyrics should be put in place if this was picked, because this is a hot mess.
Odds to win: 9/1 (Ladbrokes)
5) Nate Simpson – “What Are We Made Of” – 6/10
This song is probably the most frustrating for me to listen to, as Nate has a really soulful voice that comes out well in the lyrics of the verses. However the soft RnB sound turns into a cheesy musical theatre chorus that Eurovision has heard too many of, many of which are better. This could be elevated in the live show with Nate’s great voice but the chorus ruins any hopes I have for this.
Odds to win: 7/1 (Ladbrokes)
4) Olivia Garcia – “Freedom Hearts” – 7/10
Looking at the reaction from Eurovision fans on social media, mainly from outside the UK, this is their favourite. Personally I feel that this needs something to raise it to a very good song. It is the type of song that is pleasant to listen to but it will be forgotten at Eurovision and the UK may well end up at the bottom. It is interesting that the writers of this song are all Swedish cause this feels like a reject from their national selection. The lyric “Listen to whispers of all these freedom hearts” makes no sense and highlights the problems I have with this track.
Odds to win: 3/1 (Coral & William Hill)
3) Danyl Johnson – “Light Up the World” – 7/10
Pretty sure I will be crucified for putting Danyl above Olivia but hear me out. The song may reek of 90s cheese, complete with orange Hawaiian shirts. The tropical beat may not come through strong enough for my liking. But one thing that it is, is memorable. This is the type of song you won’t hear often at Eurovision, probably because they all do terribly. But it stands out. It also lends itself to some truly memorable staging (maybe the BBC should recreate the Cocacabana). Don’t write this off just yet.
Odds to win: 9/2 (Coral & William Hill)
2) Lucie Jones – “Never Give Up on You” – 7.5/10
The current bookies’ favourite is 2009 X Factor finalist Jones, who was knocked out by Jedward in a song off. Now she’s back on the screens with a touching ballad co-written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest. Some may say that it doesn’t go anywhere and it’s boring. I think the true majesty of the song will come through live; all it needs is a piano and some plain lighting. The only real annoyance is that in the studio version it sounds very auto-tuned. But I think the bookmakers have got this one right; don’t be surprised if this comes away as the victor of You Decide.
Odds to win: 13/8 (Coral & William Hill)
1) Holly Brewer – “I Wish I Loved You More” – 8/10
In the 2016 edition of You Decide, my favourite was Bianca with a ‘shouty female ballad’ and, surprise surprise, another one of those is my number one this year. This song reminds me of a Kelly Clarkson album, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It also arguably has the biggest climax of any of the songs this year, which can work to your advantage at Eurovision especially. Now this song isn’t perfect in my opinion; it needs something more in the verses to raise it slightly. However I think the UK wouldn’t embarrass themselves once again if they sent Holly to Kiev.
Odds to win: 13/2 (Ladbrokes)
So what do you think about the acts picked for the UK national selection; can any of them bring home the trophy in Kiev? Let me know your thoughts in the opinion box below.