With only a few days to go, I thought I’d get the skinny on Eurovision facts past and present from my friend Paul C, Content Producer for the BBC Eurovision Website. Over to you Paul…
After far too many years of the UK’s Eurovision acts doing very badly (due mostly to a combination of average songs and poor positions in the draw for the final, rather than due to the infamous ‘political voting’, it has to be said), Auntie BBC decided this year to pull her proverbial socks up and have a really good go at trying to actually win the Eurovision Song Contest.
First of all, getting Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to agree to write the song for us was a huge boost – he’s not only famous in the UK, he’s practically a musical god in most of Eastern Europe. Simply having his name attached to the project has given us a level of credibility and respect that we’d frittered away by sending the likes of Scooch and Jemini to represent us. Many people in Europe simply thought that we didn’t care about winning Eurovision anymore – having Andrew Lloyd Webber on board has nailed our colours to the mast quite decisively.
Secondly, the UK’s done something we’ve never done before – we’ve sent our act Jade on a promotional tour right the way around Europe. She’s appeared on the “Song for Europe”-style finals of Malta, Greece and Russia, performed on Poland’s “Strictly Come Dancing” and even on the Netherlands’ version of Saturday Kitchen. Having the weight of a major record company behind her (Universal) and the promise of an album release after Eurovision – no matter how the voting goes – means that there’s a story there for the international press to cover.
And cover it they have. Jade’s assault on the European press has shortened her odds from being a rank outsider (as the UK always has been, in recent years) to third or fourth-favourite. We’ve got another hidden advantage this year, too – our position in the draw. Traditionally, if you’re one of the last songs to perform, you tend to do well in the contest. In recent years, we’ve usually performed second or third out of the 25 finalists, meaning that by the time came for people to vote, our tune has been forgotten. This year, we’re 23rd out of 25. The last time we performed second from last, our act was Katrina and the Waves, back in 1997 – and we won!
However, the favourites at the moment seem to be from the following countries – ethno-dance pop from Azerbaijan, Greek heart-throb Sakis, Coldplay wannabes from FYR Macedonia, the smoky sounds of French chanteuse Patricia Kaas and the current runaway favourite, the “little fiddler” Alexander Rybek from Norway. Can Jade overturn our bad fortune in recent years? Well it’d take a brave man to bet on a UK victory this year, but this IS Eurovision… Stranger things have happened…
This year, my favourite moment about working on the BBC Eurovision Website has been arranging a reunion event for several former UK acts. I got to meet the first ever Eurovision act I can remember, the legendary Brotherhood of Man, alongside Jessica Garlick (2002’s entry – the only one of the UK’s acts in the last decade to have made the Top 3), chirpy Scouse songbird Sonia (1993’s act, just pipped to the post!) and Sally Ann Triplett, who represented the UK in my personal favourite Eurovision act ever, Bardo, back in 1982. You surely must remember their song “One Step Further”…? We’ve got interviews with all of them up on the BBC Eurovision site and it was a pleasure to meet all of these wonderful people.
The worst bit so far? Well, to be honest, there really hasn’t been one. The only downside is that by this time next week it’ll all be over. I just hope I get to work on the site again next year, when hopefully singers from 42 other European countries will be descending upon London, following Jade’s victory in Moscow this year!