Sunday, March 08, 2015

...and the act risking career suicide to represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision is.....

Not Alexandra Burke.
Not Tyler James.
Not some obscure YouTube 'sensation'
Not someone who failed to make it to boot camp in X Factor.
Not someone who got past the battle rounds of The Voice.

None of them.

Hello, Electro Velvet.  And it's no surprise to learn that the haters gonna hate.  It's Royaume-Uni after all!!  And it's.....different!!

So, after all the nerve-wracking, stomach-churning anticipation, at 9.30pm on Saturday night, 7th March, the BBC finally revealed the song which will represent our country at ESC this year - "Still In Love With You".  It's certainly very different from what we expected: if Eurovision existed in 1929, then this would have been the chart-topper of its day.  And Strictly Come Dancing might finally have found a new song for a Charleston routine.

It's a big change from the parade of screechy female mid-tempos and warrior princesses, and it will certainly stand out from the rest.  Crucially, it's uptempo - and, dare I even say it - fun.  And as the Beatles memorably put it, fun is the one thing that money can't buy.  I love the Eurovision Song Contest, always have done, but you can't deny that it's got a lot more serious over the years.  More credible, certainly, but more serious.  And looking at the selection of songs chosen so far, (with only a few exceptions) it's a pretty serious bunch of ballads we've got going on this year.  So let's give some credit to the BBC for choosing a song which is different, bonkers, defiantly old-fashioned, and which has completely bulldozed our expectations. (Even if it's yet another duo - yeah, like, ESC 2015 really needs another one of those....)

Over recent years the United Kingdom has performed miserably in Eurovision, with a parade of unknowns and 'old' stars regularly propping up the right-hand side of the scoreboard.  We haven't won since 1997, and weren't helped by the introduction of free language two years later.  I guess that the main problem with our country's participation in the contest is that on the one hand, we can be expected to dominate the world's music markets at any given time, yet this is never reflected in the songs we send to ESC.  And that goes back a long, long time!

Yet every year we UK fans hold on to hope, that as ESC becomes more 'credible' and more popular every year - social media has absolutely given the contest a whole different dimension - that maybe one of these years the UK will select a song which will remotely reflect what's happening with our music scene at the moment.  Although reflecting 'what's popular' would probably involve some dreary acoustic/pseudo-soulful/overrated artist nonsense, I won't name names but a glance at the recent Brit awards nominees reflects my ongoing dissatisfaction with the 'popular'.  Nevertheless, there is always the hope that the UK will choose a 'name' performer with a heavyweight song which will finally prove to the rest of Europe that we-are-serious-about-Eurovision-and-want-to-win-so-please-vote-for-us. Electro Velvet are not those performers.  "Still In Love With You" is not that song.  I doubt if I will ever listen to "Still In Love With You" outwith Saturday 23rd May: it wouldn't be a song I would choose to listen to, but Eurovision is a different universe, And almost four hours after hearing the song for the first time, I can still remember it.  So the song has ultimately done its job, whereas I still struggle to remember many of the entries already chosen.  And as one of the big 5/6/7/whatever it is these days,  they only get one shot to impress the viewers in the final.

The main problem remains with the BBC's selection process.  They can no longer trust the public to choose or entry (Scooch, anyone??) so it's now an internal selection, revealed somewhat sheepishly on a 'Red Button' launch, which speaks volumes about the BBC's reluctance to give the contest a higher profile in this country.  And then they wonder why no-one votes for us, eh?  This is also a bit of an insult to the artists as it sends out a clear message that the Beeb doesn't think they're worth a proper showcase on 'real' telly, but are stuck on the 'Red Button' instead.   That whoever gets the poisoned chalice of representing the UK in Eurovision is essentially collateral damage, risking career suicide and sacrificed as Euro-failures if the desired result doesn't come our way in May.  So perhaps as an act specifically put together for ESC, Electro Velvet have probably already pre-empted that and will probably go their separate ways on the 24th of May, but before that, they will have had a blast representing the UK and enjoyed that brief moment in the spotlight, not to mention Eurovision notoriety for better or worse....!

EDIT 10.03.2015: I haven't been able to get this song out of my head since Saturday night!

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