Listening to the Eurovision: You Decide candidates so you don’t have to: 2019 Edition
Another January rolling around means yet another excuse to get incredibly exasperated at whatever the BBC’s attempt at a pop music brains trust has come up with as potential Eurovision fodder, and the looming gloom of Brexit – which, as I write, is still set to take place pretty much halfway between today and the all-important Grand Final of May 18th – could well mean that whichever sacrificial lamb ends up flying the Union Jack in Tel Aviv does so to prove the UK worthy of ever getting invited back, never mind bringing the trophy this side of the Schengen Area for the first time since Tony Blair’s second day in 10 Downing Street.
For the fourth year in succession, the only way we the people can have any say in just how miserably we’re represented comes on February 8th with Eurovision: You Decide: 90 minutes on BBC Two of Mel Giedroyc and 2015 champion Måns Zelmerlöw, which this year features the exciting twist of being taped in Salford. There’s also a bit more of a focus on the song itself, rather than just which X Factor reject, future Sugababe, or Engelbert Humperdinck gets to sing it – in a development from all those times we were encouraged to believe purely because the songs had been written by someone whose elbow Alexander Rybak once sneezed on, or something, this year’s rejig sees three different songs get two performers and stylistic renditions each.
But will any of them be any good? It’s about as likely Jacob Rees-Mogg naming his next offspring after Jean-Claude Juncker, so we’ve put ourselves through them all so you don’t have to find out the hard way.
‘Bigger Than Us’
It’s no White Lies, but let’s start off on a plain love song co-written by the chap who played saxophone on Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ – a claim to fame that I’m genuinely unsure whether to mock or applaud.
17-year-old X Factor quarter-finalist Holly makes a somewhat start by wearing a hat, but beyond that things just fizzle out miserably. For a song about some monumental love, this version does a pretty impressive job at sounding incredibly soulless as country-lite guitar twangs get swamped by a dire Kygo-like screechy tropical gloop. The package isn’t that dissimilar to ‘Back To You’ by Selena Gomez, which is about as far from a compliment as you can get unless your desired effect is dreadful boredom from people who should know better.
I could sit here lying through my teeth pretending to care about All Together Now, the Rob Beckett and Geri Horner-fronted singalong filler that crowned Michael Rice as its inaugural winner in 2018, though it’s much wiser to just get this playing on a loop. Not that it’s actually any good, per se, but Rice demonstrates a perfectly pleasant tone right through from muted piano and off-beat clicks to shrill string lines and a batshit ludicrous choir-enriched key change, so it’s about as close to a genuine pop moment as we’re ever going to get.
If you thought that was a bonkers genre clash, wait until you hear this!
Wait a very long time indeed, ideally – best to stick to Wilkinson and Karen Harding until the coast is clear, tbh.
In Eurovision, you have just three minutes to win over an entire continent famed for its embrace of, well, this, so common logic dictates that you wouldn’t generally opt for a morbid ballad that only weeps its way above one act of percussion per bar once you’re already into the closing stretch, let alone one where describing traffic lights seems to be as emotional as it gets. And yet here we are.
In Eurovision, you have just three minutes to win over an entire continent famed for its embrace of, well, this, so common logic dictates that you wouldn’t generally opt for an utterly blinding dose of the sort of “commercial” house typically only flogged by Sigala and Kiss. Fortunately, X Factor reject Kerrie-Anne hints at enough actual vocal ability over its key stampedes to verge on bearable.
There’s a lyric about being “picked last in soccer” and the chorus melodies just scream (wail) that Chipmunk feat. Keri Hilson song we’d all completely forgotten about until five seconds ago. Enough said.
Remember Luminites, “who rose to fame after reaching the final of the seventh series of Britain's Got Talent in 2013”? Us neither. And, though that past life did get Jordan Clarke closer to having his own Wikipedia entry than anyone else on this page, that only scratches the itch if you’re after are vivid flashbacks to Louis Tomlinson’s attempts at a solo career – minus the wholesome charm of someone who’d make Bebe Rexha sing in and around a football ground just because he loves Doncaster Rovers. So this is probably more Conor Maynard.
Yep, we’re doomed. May as well either bow out with that key change from Michael Rice, in hyperactive style with Kerrie-Anne, or just give up entirely. Europe, it’s been fun. Au revoir!