Good morning Eurovision fans! It’s Wednesday 23rd, which means only one thing. From 10am, The BBC will be announcing the six entries for You Decide, the United Kingdom’s national final for ESC 2019, on their website and the Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2.
This year marks a slight change from recent years as there will only be three songs entered. However, all will be performed by two different acts in alternative musical styles. That means even more pressure is on to have a great entry to choose, after a mediocre run in the contest.
From 10am, as the songs are released, I will be giving my thoughts on each of them and how I think they could make a great performance. Since it is my home country, I will be completely honest but I’m looking forward to hearing them! Now, on to the songs!
Michael Rice – “Bigger Than Us”
There was a rumour that, last year, the UK delegation rejected the song that would eventually give Austria a top three placing. You can definitely see the soulful influences of that in this, with how it progresses towards a choir-backed climax. However, the lyrics itself are incredibly repetitive, and when this happens, no amount of peaks and troughs will prevent it from dragging. I wanted to hear more emotion, perhaps a bit of storytelling, but all I got was a generic motivational ballad with touches of soul. On the plus side, he has a great voice in the studio cut and it should explode live. But with only three songs in the selection, this is honestly not a great start. 6
Holly Tandy – “Bigger Than Us”
Immediately, this has a far more interesting and deep composition, with some heavy country influences throughout. It also feels more modern with that beat and her vocals. At the two minute mark, the beat explodes and becomes quite infectious; hard to believe that it is exactly the same song as the soulful ballad we just heard. However, I am still not fond of those lyrics and no amount of rich instrumentals can hide them. It is a slight improvement on Michael Rice’s version but it might be harder to get effective staging for this. 7
Jordan Clarke – “Freaks”
With only three songs being selected, you’d think that the BBC would make sure that they are lyrically strong and are catchy. “Freaks” has a very modern sound to it, which is a good thing considering the recent trend of entries from the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, this feels like a cover version of a song released in the 1960s, with some 90s influence thrown in. It’s just not great, I appreciate the message and the sentiment behind it, but I’d have preferred this song to be sung by a rock band rather than this happy-clappy version. 5
MAID – “Freaks”
I can see what they wanted to do with this production, I really do. Honestly, I want that mysterious, eerie vibe, in order to really reclaim the lyrics, especially the word “freak”. This is not the right way to go about it. The strange modern production makes it feel ten times slower, especially when they sing “freak” and I think it will feel the length of a Mozart concert on stage. The girl group have a Little Mix vibe about them in their delivery and are obviously talented but they don’t match that eerie vibe. Sorry but I’m struggling with this one. 4
Kerrie-Anne – “Sweet Lies”
Thank you so much Kerrie-Anne and the writers of “Sweet Lies”. This has a real anthemic quality, yet it doesn’t resort to having really cheesy motivational lyrics, as we see so often with the BBC. It is pretty catchy and the chorus really will get the audience dancing, as long as the staging is full of energy and the live vocals are on point. It is not perfect though, let me put it out there. It feels like a 90s RnB track with a modern dance beat put on top of it, but it is the potential I am looking at and I can see something that at least represents the UK music scene. 8
Anisa – “Sweet Lies”
For the ballad version of “Sweet Lies”, the producers have stuck with that 90s feeling and created something you might hear on Magic FM over here in the UK. This song is probably the best in structure compared to “Freaks” and “Bigger Than Us” but something is not connecting with me upon first listen. I think it is either too slow, or not powerful enough to stand up by itself. It is an emotional rendition but it never completely grabs me. She has a great voice and I hope it can come alive on stage. 6
Personally, there are only two songs that I can see being sent by the United Kingdom; Kerrie-Anne’s dance remix of “Sweet Lies”, and Holly Tandy’s modern, country-influenced “Bigger Than Us”. However, I see great potential in Michael Rice and Anisa’s entries and I think with the right staging and vocals, these could come alive and grab the televotes.
So what do you make of the Eurovision: You Decide lineup? You can let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll be back soon for some more Eurovision posts.