Eurovision 2017: UK Decides

Undeterred by last year's wash-out, the BBC have decided to give the public another chance at picking our Eurovision entry for Kyiv 2017. They've given us quite the selection of ex-X Factor contestants to pick from – but is there a jewel in the pile that we should pick? Or are we doomed?

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GreenHatching2Finally, it seems that the BBC has got to grips with what the Eurovision has become.

Having sent a series of ill-fitting duds to the competition for the best part of a decade (and graciously allowing us, The Public, to send a couple too) it looks as though someone at the Beeb has actually watched a recent Eurovision Song Contest and realised what it takes in this day and age to be in with a chance of not humiliating ourselves.

The six songs they have picked are not legacy acts like Bonnie Tyler and Englebert Humpedinck. They are not kitsch bullshit like Electro Velvet, nor 90s Pete Waterman pop like Josh Dubovie. They are broadly decent, modern-sounding pop songs. The sort of thing that other countries would feasibly enter.

This is not a done deal though – not by any stretch of the imagination. There’s still an extremely good chance that we will cock it up when we are asked to vote on this on Friday 27th January.

However, in an attempt to avoid total disaster, we’ll talk you through the options on offer so you can make your most fully informed vote.

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1/ Olivia Garcia – Freedom Hearts

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Because many of the countries who enter the Eurovision Song Contest are writing songs in their second, third or sometimes fourth language, it is understandable that a number of cliches slip into the lyric sheets. The UK should be at an advantage here – writing, as we do, in our native tongue – and yet with our very first entry we have stumbled onto a massive landmine.

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Songs about hearts have a tendency to come dead last at Eurovision, and haven’t had many convincing wins in the last two decades. A song by the name of Freedom Hearts might sound nonsensical enough to confound cliché watchers, but mentions of hearts are generally very bad news.

(The song is also in the deadly tempo trap of 128bpm, but we’ll get on to that elsewhere…)

This is how it scores in our highly scientific model.

FreedomHearts

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2/ Holly Brewer – I Wish I Loved You More

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Despite everyone thinking that Eurovision is a bright, smiley, chirpy pop contest, the truth of the matter is that moody, darker, minor key songs have been doing much better in recent years – and have been winning pretty much flat-out since the turn of the century.

If you look at both the songs that won (green) and the songs that came last (pink) since 2000, the pattern is unmistakable.

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I Wish I Loved You More has the gross misfortune of being in Bb Major – both a major key and in the danger range.

That being so, this is how it fares in our model.WishILovedYouMore

 

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3/ Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You

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A gentle and plaintive ballad for piano and strings, there’s not much other than the vocals here to fill an arena in Kyiv as there’s no beat to speak of. That’s probably just as well though as it’s in the killer tempo of 128bpm.

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Perhaps the idea behind having no drums was to disguise the fact that it’s paced at 128bpm because, aside from that, it fits the Eurovision model very neatly indeed. It’s in D minor (which was the winning key of Fairytale, Molitva and Rise Like A Phoenix); it’s got no key change and the competition likes solo female performers.

However, 128bpm has proven to be the death-knell of so many entries (and there is a solid mathematical reason for why that’s the case) it’s hard to see how it will get overcome that at the international stage.

Never-Give-Up-On-You

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4/ Danyl Johnson – Light Up The World

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It has become the fashion to enter singers from reality TV, with various countries sending acts from their national versions of Idol, X Factor, Got Talent or The Voice. It’s kind of hit-and-miss as an approach – mainly because so many countries do it, it doesn’t give anyone any particular advantage or disadvantage.

All of this year’s national finalists have auditioned at some stage for the UK X Factor. However, as Danyl Johnson is the act who got furthest in the competition (further than Jedward, who were a pretty big hit at Eurovision for Ireland in 2011 and 2012), it probably works to his advantage best.

That’s what he’ll be pinning his hopes on anyway, as the song doesn’t fare too well in our model.

LightUpTheWorld

 

(NB: It wouldn’t surprise us if this got picked though, purely because audiences recognise him.)

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5/ Salena Mastroianni – I Don’t Want To Fight

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Last year, the fifth act in the national selection was the song that should have won it. The one that would have given us our best shot at the trophy: Bianca’s Shine A Little Light.

Instead, the honour went to the final act of the night – Joe and Jake. This happens all the time with Eurovision, that bad songs at the end of the setlist get higher placing than better ones which went before them. It happens in the main competition too.

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Also of note: Salena Mastroianni is from London, but it is absolutely worth any Eurovision entrant playing up their multinational roots as countries are not able to vote for their own acts. Therefore any proud Italians who are unable to place for Italy come the Grand Final may well watch Salena Mastroianni with a keen eye.

It helps that her tropical house number is the most contemporary song we’ve had in a while. However, although it uses a G minor-led riff quite prominently, it seems as though the song is actually in Bb Major – which is one of the worst possible keys.

I-Don't-Want-To-Fight30

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6/ Nate Simpson – What Are We Made Of

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This is very much the Joe And Jake trap of last year. A song which seems pleasant enough – bright and positive, sung by a charming, attractive man. However, this is exactly the sort of thing that the British public always thinks would win Eurovision, but would get absolutely hung out to dry if it goes to Kyiv.

The switch between minor and major keys in the verses and choruses is confusing and disorientating – and key changes, generally, are a terrible thing to put in your song. As much of a Eurovision trope as they have become, they do not work.

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So, overall, how does he score?

WhatAreWeMadeOf

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In order then, how do our potential entries shape up? Like so…

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You have your vote, Britain. Use it wisely.

 

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