The below editorial features the personal opinion of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views of ESC United as a whole or its editors.
Earlier this week, the BBC surprised British Eurovision fans by announcing that they had actually made a wise decision when it comes to selecting the hopeful for the contest, as a deal between the broadcaster and record label/publishing house BMG Group was brokered.
The collaboration between the two entities will see BMG put forward an artist and track which will, as the BBC put it, have “broad international appeal” and with the artist embodying the “spirit and values of the Eurovision Song Contest”. BMG also seem to be held responsible for the promotion of the track, although the statement suspiciously falls short of suggesting how extensive this promotion would actually be.
Now, when I first heard this news on Monday, it was greeted with cautious optimism. The UK was finally looking to head back to an internal selection (let’s be honest, the Brits can’t be trusted to vote for anything) and with a possibility of a strong, modern entry backed by a competent performer and a PR machine working overtime to ensure the song’s success. Great!
However, I have been burned far too many times in my relatively short time following the contest not to be a little sceptical. Since I first watched live in 2007 we have tried everything – national finals, internal selections, theatre performers, formerly massive names, BBC Introducing, pensioners – all met with grand promises from the BBC of the latest approach being the one to catapult us back to the top of the scoreboard. Invariably, this has not been the case.
The latest decision from within the BBC does show a great degree of promise, but the statement’s vanilla remarks about contest values and “international appeal” have me braced for yet another Danish writing camp reject on steroids. I pray this is not the case. If this selection is going to work, it’s about time the BBC decided to step outside of its comfort zone a little, and go for something that may not be appreciated by everyone – it’s sure as hell better than being loved by no-one.
A quick glance over the talent registered to BMG shows there is plentiful opportunity for the BBC to really stand out in Rotterdam, with some well-recognised names who are perfectly placed to step back into the limelight and carry the British hopes forward. Take, for example, Foxes, a relatively successful pop singer from Southampton who made waves a few years ago with dance-pop bops like “Youth”, “Let Go for Tonight”, “Holding onto Heaven” and her feature with German producer Zedd, “Clarity”.
Now, Foxes’ name has been touted already on Twitter as a potential choice, and it would make sense. Despite some of her tracks amassing millions of views and her technically being a Grammy winner for her feature on “Clarity”, she has not quite reached the level of recognition her artistry would deserve. I feel her style of music would be perfectly suited for the Eurovision stage, and a strong performance at the contest could catapult her into mainstream stardom, if properly supported by BMG. But hey, that’s what they’re suggesting in their press release, so let’s be optimistic.
Some other interesting names include Kele Okereke and his band Bloc Party. As an indie lover, the mere idea of Bloc Party turning up on the Eurovision stage would probably be a pipe dream. They lead a lower profile these days, however, and their diverse catalogue of musical styles would certainly lead to an interesting choice for Rotterdam. Or why not other exciting artists listed under BMG, such as Bring Me the Horizon, alt-J, Alice Merton or Iron Maiden? Okay, I’m getting carried away…
My point is thus; the new approach to the contest promises to be a refreshing change from the tired old formats the BBC usually employ, if done correctly. I imagine the BMG artist will in fact be a new rising talent or an unknown performer, but I at least hope for something more authentic and interesting, that can appeal to a modern pop-consuming audience.
The BBC have engineered a promising position, it’s up to them and BMG to grab it with both hands and make it a worthwhile exercise.
What do #YOU think? How should the BBC and BMG approach selecting the United Kingdom’s entry for Rotterdam? Share your thoughts with us below, on our forum HERE or join the discussion on social media!