Eurovision 2017: UK entry Lucie Jones impresses with power ballad performance
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The Eurovision 2017 grand final is officially underway in Kiev, Ukraine with nations across the world competing to take home the coveted trophy.
This year's UK entry was former X Factor contestant Lucie Jones who performed the track 'Never Give Up On You' in Kiev which, judging by the initial reaction from press and fans, is looking likely to see the singer finish in a better position than last year's entry by Joe and Jake who finished 24th out of 26 (you can find the full list of odds here).
In pictures: Eurovision song contest 2017Show all 55
Twitter has expressed their delight with how Jones' performance went.
Earlier in the ceremony, Graham Norton paid touching tribute to Eurovision legend Terry Wogan who passed away ahead of last year's ceremony in 2016.
You can find a full list of the ceremony's running order here, and go here to follow along with our live blog.
Eurovision 2017 UK entry: Who is Lucie Jones? Everything you need to know about the former X Factor contestant
As we fast approach this year's Eurovision final, many UK fans are gearing up for another year of bitter disappointment (in part, thanks to the political nature of the contest).
However, there is hope. Our entry, Lucie Jones, may actually stand a chance of winning, bookies currently holding the singer as the sixth favourite to win.
Here's everything you need to know about the UK's entry.
The 26-year-old is from Pentyrch, a village in Cardiff. She appeared on The X Factor in 2009, where she made it into the live shows.
In pictures: 10 years of Eurovision winnersShow all 10
She was given her marching orders after facing Irish twins Jedward in a bottom two sing-off. Since then she has also appeared on stage in shows such as Legally Blonde and Ghost The Musical.
Jones will perform the song 'Never Give Up On You' at the big Eurovision showdown this weekend. She is currently 10th favourite to win.
The track was penned by former Eurovision entrant Emmelie de Forest, The Treatment and songwriter Lawrie Martin.
Preparing for the contest, Jones has said she is focusing on delivering the best performance she possibly can ahead of the contest and is ignoring outside political disputes.
The Eurovision Song Contest final will air on BBC1 on Saturday 13 May at 8pm. Here's everything you need to know about this year's competition.
Additional reporting by agencies.
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United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest
Overview of UK Eurovision Song Contest participation
The United Kingdom has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 63 times. It first took part in the second contest in 1957 and has entered every year since 1959. Along with Sweden and the Netherlands, the UK is one of only three countries with Eurovision victories in four different decades. It is one of the "Big Five" countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, that are automatically prequalified for the final each year as they are the biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The British public broadcaster, the BBC, broadcasts the event and has, on multiple occasions, organised different national selection processes to choose the British entry. The United Kingdom has won the Eurovision Song Contest five times, and has finished as runner-up on a record fifteen occasions. The UK has hosted the contest a record eight times, four times in London (1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977) and once each in Edinburgh (1972), Brighton (1974), Harrogate (1982) and Birmingham (1998).
The United Kingdom's five winners are Sandie Shaw with the song "Puppet on a String" (1967), Lulu with "Boom Bang-a-Bang" (1969 in a four-way tie), Brotherhood of Man with "Save Your Kisses for Me" (1976), Bucks Fizz with "Making Your Mind Up" (1981) and Katrina and the Waves with "Love Shine a Light" (1997). The UK's fifteen second-place finishes were achieved by Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson (1959), Bryan Johnson (1960), The Allisons (1961), Matt Monro (1964), Kathy Kirby (1965), Cliff Richard (1968), Mary Hopkin (1970), The New Seekers (1972), The Shadows (1975), Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran (1977), Scott Fitzgerald (1988), Live Report (1989), Michael Ball (1992), Sonia (1993) and Imaani (1998).
The United Kingdom finished outside the top ten on only three occasions prior to 2000 (1978, 1987 and 1999). In the 21st century, the United Kingdom has had a considerably poorer record in the competition, only reaching the top ten twice, with Jessica Garlick third (2002) and Jade Ewen fifth (2009), compounded by eleven non-top 20 finishes, including Jemini's infamous 2003nul points result, which was the first time that the country had come last in the contest. The UK has since finished in last place in 2008 with Andy Abraham (14 points), in 2010 with Josh Dubovie (10 points), in 2019 with Michael Rice (11 points), and in 2021 with James Newman (0 points). Emma Kelly, entertainment writer for the Metro, states that the main reason for the poor performances is due to "the attitude and lack of effort" in the UK towards the competition, and in the UK the British entry "gets very little fanfare or radio play and your average Brit couldn’t name their representative up until the week of the contest."
1950s to 1970s
It was alleged that the United Kingdom were expected to take part in the first contest in 1956, and that they missed the submission deadline and therefore could not take part. This was later revealed by the EBU in January 2017 to be a myth created by fans of the contest. The EBU further went on to explain that the Festival of British Popular Song, a contest created by the BBC for the United Kingdom, was the inspiration that brought in format changes to the contest elements from the Eurovision Song Contest 1957 onwards.Patricia Bredin was the first performer to represent the UK at Eurovision, finishing seventh in 1957. The UK was the first choice to stage the third contest in 1958, however following a failure to get an agreement from various artistic unions, the BBC withdrew their bid in the summer of 1957 and the UK did not enter for the second and last time to date.
At their second attempt in the contest in 1959, the UK achieved the first of their record fifteen runner-up positions, when Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson sang "Sing, Little Birdie". The UK would achieve four more second-place finishes with Bryan Johnson in 1960, The Allisons in 1961, Matt Monro in 1964 and Kathy Kirby in 1965, before eventually winning for the first time in 1967. Sandie Shaw was already a successful performer, having twice topped the UK singles chart and she comfortably won in Vienna with "Puppet on a String", which became her third UK number one and topped the charts all around Europe. In 1968, another successful performer was selected to represent the UK with the song "Congratulations". In London, Cliff Richard gave the UK their sixth second-place finish, losing to Spain's Massiel. "Congratulations" remains one of only two non-winning UK Eurovision songs to top the UK charts. The UK's second victory was provided by the Scottish singer Lulu, who won with the song "Boom Bang-a-Bang" in 1969, in a four-way tie with France, Spain and the Netherlands. Another established performer, she had reached the US #1 spot with "To Sir with Love" in 1967.
Having finished second on three further occasions in the 1970s, with Mary Hopkin in 1970, The New Seekers in 1972 and The Shadows in 1975. The UK achieved their third victory in 1976 with Brotherhood of Man and "Save Your Kisses for Me", who won with 164 points, which would remain the highest points total for ten years. In 1977, the UK finished second for the tenth time represented by singer-songwriters Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran.
1980s and 1990s
The UK's fourth victory came in 1981, with Bucks Fizz and "Making Your Mind Up". The group was created especially for the UK televised selection contest, "A Song for Europe" (a programme which in later years would be renamed to "Making Your Mind Up"). At Eurovision in Dublin, they defeated Germany's Lena Valaitis by four points. The group went on to continued success, with 13 UK top 40 hits over the next five years. This would be the last UK win for 16 years, although the country continued to be competitive at the contest with four more second-place results during this time. In 1988, Scott Fitzgerald lost to Celine Dion, who was representing Switzerland, by just one point. In 1989, Live Report lost out to Yugoslavia by seven points. Michael Ball in 1992, also finished second, behind Linda Martin of Ireland. The 1993 entry, Sonia, had already had 10 UK top 30 hits, including a 1989 number one with "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You", when she was selected to represent the UK in Millstreet. With one country (Malta) left to vote, Ireland's Niamh Kavanagh led Sonia by 11 points. By the time it got to the announcement of the 12 points, neither the UK or Ireland had been mentioned. If the UK had received the 12, they would have won by one point. In the end Ireland received the top marks and won by 23 points. Despite only finishing eighth in the 1996 contest, Gina G went on to huge success with her entry "Ooh Ah Just a Little Bit", which became only the second non-winning UK entry to top the UK Singles chart. It also reached the US top 20 and received a Grammy nomination. The UK's fifth victory finally came in 1997, when Katrina and the Waves, famous for their 1980s hit "Walking on Sunshine", comfortably won the contest with the song "Love, Shine a Light". They scored 227 points, which would remain the highest points total of the pre semi-final era. At the 1998 contest in Birmingham, Imaani achieved the UK's 15th second-place finish and 20th top two result, with the song "Where Are You?", losing to Israel's Dana International. The UK, as of 2021, has not finished in the top two since.
The UK has fared less well in the contest in the 21st century. Since girl-group Precious finished 12th in 1999, the UK has failed to reach the top ten in all but two of the last 22 contests (1999–2021) – the exceptions being Jessica Garlick, who finished joint third in 2002 with the song "Come Back" (the UK's only top three result of the century), and Jade Ewen. Ewen in particular, was praised for ending the country's poor run of results for much of the decade, by finishing fifth in 2009 with the song "It's My Time", written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. In 2003, the UK finished last for the first time with the duo Jemini, who received the infamous nul points. The country then finished last on two further occasions over the next 7 years, with Andy Abraham, who received 14 points in 2008, Josh Dubovie, who received 10 points in 2010.
In 2011, the BBC announced that they would forgo the national selection and instead internally select the next representative, so they chose the boy band Blue to represent the UK. They finished 11th with 100 points. In 2012, the UK were facing calls to quit the contest when the UK entry, Engelbert Humperdinck, finished 25th (out of 26) with only 12 points. However, the UK confirmed their participation in the 2013 contest, with the Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, most famous for her 1983 US and UK number one hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart", who would perform the song "Believe in Me". In Malmö, she finished 19th with 23 points. She went on to win two internationally voted Eurovision Song Contest radio awards for Best Female Singer and Best Song.
In 2014, the BBC internally selected unknown singer Molly Smitten-Downes, through BBC Introducing, which supports new and unsigned acts. She represented the UK in Copenhagen under her artist name Molly. In the final, she performed the song "Children of the Universe", which she co-wrote with Anders Hansson and finished in 17th place with 40 points, having been regarded as one of the favourites to win the contest. In October 2014, Guy Freeman stated that the BBC are still engaging with record companies and the BBC Introducing platform in order to find an entry for the 2015 contest via the internal selection process, but announced that in addition, for the first time since 2008, they are giving the general public the option to submit an entry for consideration. Ultimately, the entry for 2015 came through open submission, with the song "Still in Love with You" performed by the duo Electro Velvet. The song finished in 24th place, with only five points, the UK's worst performance in terms of points tally since 2003.
On 30 September 2015, the BBC confirmed the national selection show would return in 2016. Six acts competed in the national final on 26 February and the winner was selected entirely through a public vote, consisting of televoting and online voting. "You're Not Alone" performed by Joe and Jake won the national final broadcast live on BBC Four. At the final they came 24th with 62 points in total. Of these only 8 were from the public vote, the second lowest public score, following 0 to the Czech Republic. In spite of the latest disappointing result, the BBC announced that the national final format would be retained for 2017. Six acts again participated in the final, which was held on 27 January 2017. It was broadcast on BBC Two as opposed to BBC Four the previous year, and the winner was determined by a combination of scores from a professional jury and televoting (including votes cast online). Former X Factor contestant Lucie Jones won the show and earned the right to represent the UK at the 2017 contest in Kyiv, with the song "Never Give Up on You", becoming the 60th UK Eurovision entry. The song was praised for its impressive staging, and finished 15th in the final with a combined score of 111 points, finishing 10th in the jury vote with 99 points and 20th in the televote with 12 points. In 2018, "Storm" by SuRie was selected by the public to represent the UK. Her performance during the final was marred by an invader who ran onstage halfway through the song and grabbed her microphone, interrupting her performance; however, she was able to complete her performance. She finished in 24th with a combined score of 48.Michael Rice's song "Bigger than Us" was selected by the public to represent the UK in 2019. It finished in 26th place in the final after amassing 11 points, marking the fourth time since the turn of the century that the UK had finished last.
Ahead of the 2020 contest, the BBC stated that they would return to internally selecting the representative (in collaboration with record label BMG). James Newman was chosen as the entrant with his song "My Last Breath"; however, the 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BBC subsequently announced that BBC Studios would produce Eurovision: Come Together, a replacement show for BBC One featuring classic Eurovision performances, interviews and a look at the entries that would have taken part in 2020. The show was part of the BBC's plan to "entertain the nation in time of need". The contest returned in 2021, with Newman being selected again with a new song, "Embers". However, the song finished in last place and became the second UK entry to receive nul points (also the first full nul points since the 2016 voting system was first implemented).
United Kingdom and the "Big Five"
In 1999, a rule change allowed the United Kingdom, along with France, Germany and Spain, to automatically qualify for the final (irrespective of their recent scores and without entering a semi-final), due to being the biggest financial contributors to the EBU. Due to their untouchable status in the contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four" (which became the "Big Five" in 2011 following the return of Italy to the contest).
In 2008, it was rumoured that the "Big Four" would lose their automatic qualification, and would have to compete in the semi-finals for the first time. However, it was announced by the EBU that this would not be the case and the four countries would still automatically qualify for the final of the 2009 contest without having to enter a semi-final, and this has remained as of 2021. In the same year, the BBC defended using money from TV licence fee payers for the contest when Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross had tabled a Commons motion which called on the corporation to withdraw its £173,000 funding for the annual contest. Former Eurovision commentator Sir Terry Wogan, that same year, also claimed that the show is "no longer a music contest" after the results were announced.
Since the introduction of the Big Four/Five, the United Kingdom has finished last in the contest five times, with Germany finishing last three times. The United Kingdom also has the fewest top ten results of the Big Five in the 21st century, but has achieved more top five results than Spain, having reached the top five in 2002 and 2009, while Spain has not reached the top five since the 1995 contest.
National selection ("You Decide")
Main article: UK national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest
As well as broadcasting the contest each year, the BBC also organises the selection process for the entry, often with a televised national final (historically titled A Song For Europe). The process has varied between selecting both performer and song, or just the song, with the artist being selected internally.
For most years the public has been able to vote for the winner, in the past with postcard voting, where the viewers sent postcards with their vote to the BBC, but more recently televoting and online. In 2009 and 2010, the singer was chosen by a public vote and the song internally selected. From 2011 to 2015, there was no televised selection, and both the artist and song were selected internally by the BBC. This resulted in the national selection process being suspended; however, this returned in 2016, re-titled Eurovision: You Decide, with viewers once again choosing which song to enter into the contest. Since 2017, the votes from a professional jury panel have been combined with the public vote to select the winner.
In September 2019, it was announced that the BBC would not hold a public selection for the 2020 contest, and that BBC Studios would partner with record label BMG to produce and release its entry.
See also: UK Eurovision Song Contest entries discography
Below is a list of all songs and their respective performers that have represented the United Kingdom in the contest:
Including backing singers and musicians who performed for the UK, the following artists represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest multiple times:
British performers who have represented other countries include:
Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest
Further information: Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest
Although the United Kingdom was entered twice into Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest, with Cliff Richard's 1968 runner-up entry "Congratulations" and Brotherhood of Man's 1976 winning song "Save Your Kisses for Me", the BBC decided not to air the event or participate in the voting, but instead aired an hour-long special programme entitled Boom Bang-a-Bang: 50 Years of Eurovision hosted by Terry Wogan.
Eurovision: Come Together
Further information: Eurovision: Come Together
Following the cancellation of the 2020 contest due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBC decided to host Eurovision: Come Together, an all-stars contest on the night of what would have been the 2020 grand final. The show was broadcast just before the EBU's main replacement show Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light. An expert panel selected the 19 competing entries, four of which were UK entries.
The United Kingdom has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest a record eight times. The United Kingdom stepped in and hosted the contest for the Netherlands in 1960, France in 1963, Monaco in 1972 and Luxembourg in 1974 due to the winning countries' financial and capacity issues. In four occasions (1968, 1977, 1982 and 1998) the UK was given the right to host as a result of a victory. The BBC offered to joint host the 1996 contest in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Irish broadcaster RTÉ if Ireland were to win for a fourth year in a row.
Eurovision Song Contest's Greatest Hits
In 2015, London hosted Eurovision Song Contest's Greatest Hits, an event to commemorate the 60th anniversary, which was recorded for television on 31 March 2015 and was shown in 26 countries, starting with the UK and Ireland on 3 April 2015.
Additionally, several British conductors have conducted for other countries (not counting instances where a British musical director had to step in for another country that didn't bring their own conductor), including:
Heads of delegation
Commentators and spokespersons
Over the years BBC commentary has been provided by several experienced radio and television presenters, including Tom Fleming, David Vine, David Jacobs, Dave Lee Travis, Pete Murray, John Dunn and Michael Aspel. However, Terry Wogan provided BBC TV commentary every year from 1980 to 2008. It was confirmed on 12 August 2008 that Terry Wogan would no longer present the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK. The BBC Radio 2 DJ, who had fronted the BBC's coverage for 37 years, said it was "time for someone else to take over". He was replaced in 2009 by Graham Norton for the final. Norton has continued in the role ever since.
The final of the contest has been broadcast by BBC One (previously BBC Television Service and BBC TV) since the first contest in 1956, the first live colour transmission of the contest in the United Kingdom was the Eurovision Song Contest 1970, the first high definition broadcast of the contest began in 2007 when the contest was simulcast on BBC HD for the first time (this continued until the channel's closure). The final is also broadcast on radio, initially on BBC Light Programme until the 1967 contest. From 1968 it was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 (simulcast on Radio 2), moving to BBC Radio 2 from the 1971 contest where it has remained ever since (except from 1983 to 1985, the first year of which due to a scheduling clash with the St. George's Day Concert). Between 1963 and 1976, in 1980 and again from 1983 until 1985, the contest was also broadcast on BFBS Radio. A simulcast of the 2002 contest was broadcast on BBC Choice with alternative commentary by Jenny Eclair. This was the only time the BBC had provided three different commentary options.
From 2004 to 2015 both semi-finals were broadcast on BBC Three. Since BBC Three became an online only channel in February 2016, semi-final coverage is now broadcast on BBC Four. In 2014, Matronic provided commentary for the second semi-final of the 2014 Contest on BBC Radio 2 Eurovision, a temporary station which was broadcast on DAB radio over four days, as well as the BBC Radio 2 website. She continued this role in 2015.
In the 1998 contest, hosted in Birmingham, Terry Wogan acted as both commentator and on-stage presenter (together with Ulrika Jonsson). In the 1980 contest, each song was introduced by a presenter from its country, the United Kingdom entry being introduced by Noel Edmonds.
No British-born broadcaster has either presented or commentated on the live television final for over thirty years, the last being Jan Leeming, host of the 1982 contest.
In recent years, the dual-commentator format during the semi-finals has allowed for the broadcaster to incorporate additional segments, interviews and live viewer interaction during the programme's live airing.
In 2019 the BBC launched Eurovision Calling, a weekly BBC Soundspodcast hosted by Mills and comedian Jayde Adams.
Main articles: List of countries in the Eurovision Song Contest § Scotland, and List of countries in the Eurovision Song Contest § Wales
For several years the Scottish National Party (SNP) has campaigned for a place in Eurovision for Scotland but had been rejected numerous times because Scotland is represented as a part of the British entry and is represented by the BBC.
On 11 February 2008, the EBU stated that a Scottish broadcaster could apply for EBU membership, but under the current rules could not enter the Eurovision Song Contest as the BBC currently has exclusive rights to represent the entire United Kingdom. It was announced in late May 2008 that the UK would be participating in the 2009 contest and, therefore, Scotland was not represented in 2009 as a separate entrant.
Scotland could be represented by STV, ITV Border or BBC Scotland. MEPAlyn Smith has said in the European Parliament: "Other small countries have done it [entered the competition] and I will be happy to help any of the broadcasting companies through the progress."
In 2011, the EBU stated that there was nothing to prevent Scotland from submitting its own entry, although STV stated that there were no current plans for a separate entry.
If Scotland were to participate it is unknown whether or not England, Wales and Northern Ireland would show any interest in entering the Eurovision Song Contest independently as well, although S4C (the Welsh language media channel) has expressed an interest and, in addition, already holds a yearly national song contest called "Cân i Gymru" (Song for Wales). S4C also considered a bid for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2008 but decided not to go ahead. Wales eventually made its Junior Eurovision debut in 2018. In 2009 MEP for Wales Jillian Evans stated her interest in securing Wales a place in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010. Wales could be represented by either BBC Cymru Wales, ITV Wales & West or S4C. There is a small campaign in Northern Ireland for a separate entrant and it could be represented by UTV or BBC Northern Ireland. There are no plans currently for England to enter separately.
However, to date, these proposed changes have not occurred, and the United Kingdom still participates in the Eurovision Song Contest as a single entrant. During the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, it was unknown what would happen if Scotland were to become an independent country. On 25 November 2013, the Scottish Government released a referendum blueprint which detailed plans for the transfer of BBC Scotland into the Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) and joining the EBU, as well as partaking in competitions, including Scottish entries in the Eurovision Song Contest. However, the referendum result on 18 September 2014 was to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the aforementioned BBC retains exclusive rights to represent the United Kingdom, including Scotland.
Since 2006, Gibraltarian broadcaster Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has been attempting to gain EBU membership and thus participate independently in the Eurovision Song Contest. However GBC cannot obtain EBU membership due to the British Overseas Territory not being independent from the United Kingdom.Gibraltar broadcast the final of the contest from 2006 to 2008.
Notes and references
- ^In the 1969 contest, four countries drew for first place. In later contests, tiebreak rules would have resolved this and the entries ordered according to these official rules, but in 1969 no provision was in place. Therefore, all four countries were declared as joint winners. The UK was one of these countries (the other joint winners were France, the Netherlands, and Spain).
- ^During the voting sequence of the live show, several errors were made in the announcement of the scores, which were then adjusted after the broadcast. Both Greece and France duplicated scores, awarding the same points to multiple countries. From the Greek scores, the UK, Netherlands, Austria & Finland all had 1 point deducted after the contest and from the French scores, Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy & Portugal all had 1 point deducted. None of the adjustments affected the placing of any of the songs. The result had the UK losing 1 point from their broadcast total of 122 to a corrected score of 121.
- ^Spain originally gave its 6 points to Poland. After the broadcast, it was announced the Spanish voting spokesperson had wrongly pronounced 'Holland' instead of 'The Netherlands', which the voting moderator had assumed was 'Poland'. The mistake was corrected and the Dutch score was increased by 6 points, moving the nation above the UK into 7th place and demoting the UK to 8th.
- ^After the broadcast it was announced that the Spanish broadcaster had wrongly tallied the votes and the United Kingdom should have received 3 points instead of 4, as shown during the broadcast. The mistake was corrected and so the United Kingdom received one point fewer than indicated during the broadcast.
- ^The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ^ abIn both 1983 and 1984, the UK's backing singers were hidden off-camera.
- ^All conductors are of British nationality unless otherwise noted.
- ^Also conducted the Luxembourgish entry
- ^Transitioned in 1972; conducted at the contest while still under the name Wally Stott.
- ^Also conducted for Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland
- ^Norrie Paramor was the musical director for the national final.
- ^Also conducted the German entry
- ^Alyn Ainsworth was the musical director for the national final.
- ^Ronnie Hazlehurst was the musical director for the national final.
- ^Koch conducted the opening and interval music, and the French entry.
- ^BBC Television had scheduled to broadcast the Contest on 12 March 1958, however due to live coverage of a sports event on the same day meant that the broadcast had to be delayed until 16 March.
- ^It has to be assumed that Terry Wogan's commentary was taken by BFBS in 1975 since Terry says in his BBC Radio 2 commentary "Richard Astbury sends his apologies to BFBS listeners - technical difficulties".
- ^Late replacement for Christopher Price who died a month before the contest.
- ^Late replacement for Clark-Neal who was absent due to illness but still appeared in pre-recorded segments.
2017 entry eurovision uk
Eurovision 2017 is an after-hours pub car park – and the UK will get a kicking
On Saturday night, Lucie Jones will look deep into more than 200 million European TV viewers’ eyes and sing the healing words our troubled continent needs to hear: “I will never give up on you / I don’t care what I’ve got to lose / Just give me your hand and hold on / Together we’ll dance through this storm.”
Fabulous stuff, though judging by her performance at the semi-final, the choreographers of the UK’s 2017 Eurovision entry have missed a trick. What they should have done is surround Lucie with a circle of dancers like that Matisse painting, each in their different European national costumes and all blown around the Kiev stage by wind machines until everybody was symbolically naked.
With Europeans loathing each other as never before this millennium – the Greeks hating Germans for administering a financial punishment beating on their country, Ukrainians hating Russians for annexing bits of theirs, and 27 blank-eyed continentals in the proverbial after-hours pub car park gathered to give Britain’s prone body a kicking – never has Lucie’s call for love and unity been more necessary.
Naturally, the bookies don’t give her a chance: she’s 25-1 to win and 14-1 to get nul points. Lucie’s outsider status is not entirely because Never Give Up on You is a vapid plodder of a ballad that seems composed by algorithm not human hand, but also because in 2017, the UK’s Eurovision role is not to inspire Europeans to love each other, but rather to take over the baton of shame from Russia.
Historically, Russia existed in Eurovision to be booed – for human rights abuses, for seizing Crimea and for having a president who takes off his top for photoshoots. In 2009, Georgia’s entry We Don’t Wanna Put In was barred because it was deemed anti-Putin (gee, you think?). Last year, Ukraine’s Jamala won Eurovision with her even more politically explosive number, 1944, about Stalin’s mass deportation of around 240,000 Crimean Tatars and a song that took on new relevance for Ukrainians given recent Russian incursions. “When strangers are coming,” sang Jamala, herself a Crimean Tatar, “they come to your house, they kill you all and say: ‘We’re not guilty … not guilty’.”
Sadly this year, the Russians won’t be there to be booed, so the UK must take over that sacrificial role. Ukraine has banned Russia’s entrant Julia Samoylova from travelling to Kiev for the contest because, unacceptably to Ukrainians, she had performed in Crimea after annexation. Ukraine’s decision was condemned not just by Russia but by Eurovision’s Frank Dieter Freiling for undermining “the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision song contest and its mission to bring all nations together in friendly competition”.
In truth, though, Eurovision has never been as Freiling sees it. War, argued Von Clausewitz, is the continuation of politics by other means. Eurovision, he should have added, is the continuation of war by means of unspeakable music. Consider Cliff Richard. In 1968, his British Eurovision entry, Congratulations, lost by one vote to Spain’s even more awful entry, La, La, La by Massiel. How? In his documentary 1968: I Lived Through the Spanish May, film-maker Montse Fernández Villa claimed that votes were bought to secure a Spanish win by TV directors touring Europe at the behest of fascist dictator General Franco.
Worse was to come. In 2006, geneticist Derek Gatherer published Comparison of Eurovision Song Contest Simulation with Actual Results Reveals Shifting Patterns of Collusive Voting Alliances, arguing that bloc voting, or what he called “a horizontally spreading cultural behaviour that has progressively colonised the contest”, was akin to what Richard Dawkins called a meme in The Selfish Gene.
Non-political? Friendly competition? Not really. Gatherer disclosed there was a Viking Empire (Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania), a Balkan Bloc (Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Greece, Cyprus, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania and Romania) and the soon-to-collapse Warsaw Pact (Poland, Russia and the Ukraine), the “Partial Benelux” (Belgium and the Netherlands) and the Pyrenean Axis of Spain and Andorra. By contrast, France, Germany and the UK were disastrously non-aligned so couldn’t win. In 2008, the late Terry Wogan quit as BBC Eurovision presenter, sickened at how bloc voting was undermining Eurovision’s supposed principles.
But despite Wogan’s stand and complicated rule changes aimed at scotching psephological skulduggery, the shame of bloc voting continues. And Lucie Jones’s message of unity is destined to go unheard as Eurovision entrants climb over each others’ faces to win in Kiev.
Could she win? Of course not. In part that’s because of the annoying irony that mere months after we voted for Brexit, the UK entry is called Never Give Up on You. The song is, if you think about it, Theresa May turned through 180 degrees: Lucie’s message to Europe is Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit. That won’t wash in Extremadura or Wrocław.
My guess is that Eurovision audiences in Kiev won’t buy this inversion. Instead, they’ll boo Britain for Brexiting and make the UK into this year’s Russia.
Never Give Up on You is a curious case of what Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek calls fetishistic disavowal, which he defined thus: “I know it, but I refuse to fully assume the consequences of this knowledge, so that I can continue acting as if I don’t know it.”
By strange contrast, the Slovenian entry sounds like Brexiteer torch song rather than Jones’s unwitting Remoaner denial of the referendum result. “You’ve all been very kind,” sings Omar Naber, “ but I made up my mind / Now I’m about to leave you all behind / I’m feeling so alone, I’m turning down my tone / Before the rise of sun I will be gone.” Michael Gove wrote Omar’s lyrics, you know. Only kidding. It’s not quite as terrible as Romania’s unacceptable Yodel It, but Slovenia will not win.
So who of the 42 entrants should win? Italy. Why? Because Francesco Gabbani’s Occidentali Karma has a message even more topical than Jones’s. In the song, he quotes Hamlet, psychologist Erich Fromm, philosopher Heraclitus and Naked Ape author Desmond Morris.
Morris even praised the song in an interview with La Republica. This is perhaps the first time a Cambridge ethologist has backed a number to win Eurovision. But Morris is right: Francesco’s message about the perils of decadence and materialism demands to be heard by citizens of a continent that needs to heal itself pronto.
“Each person is a know-it-all thanks to the web,” sings Francesco. “Communities’ cocaine / The poor people’s opium … Internetologists / Honorary associates in the anonymous meetings of selfie-addicted / Intelligence is out-of-date / Easy answers. Worthless dilemmas.” To be fair, it sounds better in Italian.
At the end of the video for the song, Francesco, casting off a Buddhist monk’s robe, busts some moves with a dancing monkey in order – I suppose – to clinch the lyrics’ point about Western humanity evolving into a existential cul de sac.
It’s destined to be an iconic Eurovision moment – right up there with the time Bobby G and Mike Nolan whipped off the skirts of Jay Aston and Cheryl Baker during the denouement of Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up, thus helping Britain win Eurovision by four votes in 1981. Though perhaps a little more profound.
Take me home. I'll put on tights for you. Then I drive, and you entertain me.
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But neither he nor I have the right to destroy other people's fates around him. why destroy the world of his wife, why deprive the only outlet of the man who loves me, but neither his position in society, nor his duty to. Children allow him to commit an insane act by going to about me. And yet I am grateful to Fate for this meeting, now I can say with confidence that those who are your REFLECTION are not the fruit of delusional.
Ideas and fantasies.