After watching last night’s Eurovision, where the British entry was predictably poor and unpopular, and listening to an interesting interview with the BBC’s Guy Freeman, I’ve been thinking about how the UK can get back on track in Eurovision. Of course we’d do well if we drafted in someone like Adele or Sam Smith, but that’s clearly not going to happen, so we need a realistic plan. The BBC need to think long-term, and understand that it will take time to change the perception across Europe that we have a disrespectful attitude to Eurovision and the musical tastes of our neighbours. I’ve come up with a list of 10 acts I think would make great, and realistic, UK Eurovision entrants.
I chose these 10 acts because they are talented, credible and current, but I don’t believe they are too cool or too big for Eurovision (though some of them may disagree!). Their stage set-up would suit the confines of the contest, and their sound would appeal to audiences across Europe. They’re strong songwriters, so even if they weren’t willing to put forward their best hope for a future hit, they’d still come up with something the UK could be proud of. If the BBC could commit to giving them the appropriate support, and they had good intentions to do their best in promoting and performing the song, they would have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
These acts are all British or UK-based, but we could draft in an artist from anywhere, so my hope is just to inspire some imagination from the BBC. Instead of approaching the obvious choices, getting a no and moving on to desperate no-hopers like Electro Velvet, they need to think outside the box to achieve a better result. 2014’s entry Children of the Universe was a step in the right direction, and the BBC shouldn’t have changed their tactics simply because it didn’t work. They should have had confidence in their instincts and persisted, gradually improving the reputation of Eurovision in the UK and therefore the quality of future entrants, and the chance of future success.
1. The Shires
Already a Radio 2 mainstay, UK country duo The Shires would be perfect for Eurovision. They write quality, authentic country-pop songs, and their live shows get great reviews. As they don’t usually bother the singles chart, they have no cool/commercial fanbase to lose, and a huge European country fanbase to gain.
2. Ward Thomas
If the BBC can’t secure The Shires, they could go for fellow country-poppers Ward Thomas. Also a Radio 2 favourite with album chart success, they have a strong concept as a young twin sister duo, write their own songs and have lots of live experience. Their simple, pure talent would be a refreshing change for the UK in Eurovision.
One of the few acts often suggested for Eurovision that I actually agree would be a good, and realistic, choice is Hurts. They’ve had success across Europe and have a distinctive dark, artistic but poppy sound that would stand out in the competition, plus strong songwriting and experience playing to big crowds.
Jetta was a victim of her own success when Start A Riot went viral online before she was signed. Even with the Pharrell-produced single Crescendo, she couldn’t match it. However, she wrote two strong power ballads for Neon Jungle and I reckon she has more up her sleeve. Another Start a Riot could be a winner.
They’ve been quiet for a while, but the Noisettes would be ideal for Eurovision. Lead singer Shingai has a strong look and voice, and they have a history of writing quality classic-sounding pop songs. They’re an accomplished live act with many big performances behind them, so they’d have the confidence to take on Eurovision.
6. Many Things
Novelty acts still work in Eurovision, but just like in the charts, they need to be cool too. Many Things is a London-based band with a quirky, charismatic Australian singer and catchy songs, which combine to make them memorable and fun. It’s a type of Eurovision act the UK has never put forward, but it would suit us well.
7. Ivy & Gold
It would be a risk for an act on the rise like past TMBP Live performers Ivy & Gold to do Eurovision, but they would go down very well with European music fans. Their sound is reflective of the European charts and would appeal to older viewers too, thanks to lead singer Rachel’s classically-trained vocals.
As an independent artist, Eurovision would be a great opportunity for Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik. He has recently developed a sound with more strength and substance than his early releases, and it deserves more recognition. He writes and produces his own music, which would add some much-needed credibility.
9. Bebe Black
Bebe failed to rise above the onslaught of female solo artists on the cooler side of pop, but her songs deserved much more attention. They are dark, powerful and dramatic, but her eclectic abilities mean she could write a modern ballad that would suit Radio 2 as well as Radio 1, and radio stations around Europe too.
10. Aiden Grimshaw
Aiden was rumoured for 2014’s UK entry, and would have been a smart choice if it had been true. His singles have been a bit underwhelming and his vocal is quite affected, but he impressed the public during The X Factor and has a memorable, distinctive look, sound and performance style that would suit European tastes.