Blue had a lot of hits back in the day - between 2001 and 2004 to be precise. I always liked them, and "All Rise" and "Fly By II" were, and still are, big favourites here at EuropeCrazy HQ.
All good things eventually came to an end though, and the band went their separate ways. Simon Webbe had a few hits and my favourite of these was "No Worries". Duncan James' solo pop career wasn't so successful although I liked "Sooner or Later" which should have been a hit (but wasn't). Lee Ryan also attempted a solo career, and had a few hit singles, my favourite of these was "Turn Your Car Around". And as for Antony Costa, well he even had a shot at representing the UK back in 2006 - but it was Daz Sampson who got the UK ticket that year.
In the intervening years since splitting and reforming, the members of Blue have also gone down that well-worn route to staying in the public eye: reality TV. Duncan James appeared in Dancing on Ice, Simon Webbe in I'm A Celebrity, for example. Of all the band's members, Duncan James has probably been the most successful, as he has now established a new career for himself in musical theatre.
In recent years many boybands have reformed on the back of the Take That phenomenon, with varying results. Reforming a band can be a massive risk, but it's even more risky when your comeback will be played out on the Eurovision stage.
This is the first time ever in the history of the UK's participation that the BBC has gone for a full internal selection, of both the artist and the song so let's hope that the gamble pays off. Two years ago the efforts put into promoting "It's My Time" paid off with a 5th place, however all the good work was undone last year as poor Josh Dubovie was thrown to the slaughter with a song which would have been old-fashioned even 20 years ago.
The problem with the UK's entries is that the BBC is stuck in the past. The Beeb still thinks that Eurovision is all about the boom-bang-a-bang type songs which died out a long long time ago, whereas Eurovision has moved on and become more contemporary - last year's winner "Satellite" is a very good example.
If the UK was to send a "contemporary" entry it would probably look like Taio Cruz featuring Tinie Tempah, with N-Dubz and Katy B on backing vocals. But there would be no chance of that (not that I'd want that type of entry anyway). So I guess that the choice of Blue as the UK's representatives this year is as contemporary as the BBC will probably get. It's also a very smart choice, considering that the band were very popular in Europe back in the day - particularly in Italy, if I remember rightly - and their solo singles also did well; I remember whilst on holiday in Krakow in 2006, Simon Webbe and Lee Ryan's songs were never off the radio. So there's that recognition-factor to start with, which may just lift us off the bottom of the voting table.
It will be all about the song of course: it's called "I Can" the title of which is worryingly reminiscent of an "I Believe I Can Fly"-type anthemic ballad. But we'll have to reserve our judgement till we actually hear the song. There's no info on when we'll hear the song for the first time, but according to www.bbc.co.uk/eurovision a documentary will be screened in April about the band's preparation for the contest, including them promoting the song in Europe. So maybe they'll turn up at a few national finals, just like Jade Ewen did in 2009.
Anyway, I'm quite happy with the choice of Blue, and I'm sure they will do their very best. They sing well and are established performers, so let's just hope they do us proud in Dusseldorf.