Tonight sees the United Kingdom make its decision for Tel Aviv, as the 62nd British representative(s) in Eurovision are chosen live from 20:30 CET. With six acts and three songs in the running, our team took a look at the runners and riders to see who had the best chance of restoring British pride at the contest in 2019…

Anisa – Sweet Lies

David – 2 – “The Danes (songwriters) come to the rescue again in the UK, or at least that’s what they tried to do I hope. This is not working for me at all, there is just nothing captivating about this song at all. I just goes on and I don’t follow at all. Cute voice from Anisa, but there ain’t anything more than that. I’m really left empty handed here.”

James – 6 – “A pleasant soulful pop song that just lacks impact. Anisa’s voice can reach lofty highs and hold it there, but it’s easy listening that doesn’t really stick with you. The issue here is not Anisa but the song and the choice to interpret it in an R&B fashion.”

Robert – 8 – “This is such an interesting version! It stands out a country mile from everything else in the NF with this much softer and ballad-like interpretation of Sweet Lies. I do honestly believe that this could surprise simply because it has such a different mood to it. Anisa has a gorgeous voice – perhaps the best vocalist in the selection – and she makes the most of it. I like the minimalist version a lot and wish that we could just be deciding between her and Kerrie-Anne! Although, having said that, I’m struggling to do so.”

Sean – 6 – “I like the almost Americanised 90s soul-RnB sound in Anisa’s version of “Sweet Lies”, and this could be a real surprise package live. I’m not convinced this could grab the attention of most of the public, but for fans of a certain genre and for those who were around for the heights of the 90s RnB period, this will resonate well. Unfortunately, in my personal taste, this just can’t match up to the other version by Kerrie-Anne, but that’s all down to my feelings.”

Zack – 6 – “If Kerrie-Anne had released “Sweet Lies” independent of Eurovision, then Anisa’s version would be the one done for the demographic that watches The Voice and X-Factor. In other words, this song transforms the lion’s roar into a kitten’s meow. And maybe some of the audience will go for that. Not my cup of tea.”

Total – 28

Holly Tandy – Bigger Than Us

David – 2 – “I’m really not feeling this one, since it does so much of the things that I personally dislike. The song tries too hard to be heard, Holly gives is more than what is needed and the style in general is really just not my cup of tea. There just ain’t much for me to come back to, I’m just left bored.”

James – 6 – “A country pop take a la Taylor Swift? Sure, why not? I do resent that the BBC pitched great two Northern singers and X Factor contenders against each other for this song. But like most of Swift’s output this is a light, sugary take and seems a mismatch for Barnsley’s Holly Tandy, who does appear to have an intense public persona and appears capable of great power. Though the bridge encourages clapping in time from a live audience, this lacks power. The song needs it, and Holly is more than capable of providing it.”

Robert – 6 – “The overall feel of the song is for more of a foot-tapping vibe than in Michael’s version. Apart from that, there are not a whole load of differences between her interpretation and Michael’s. The backing music feels perhaps a little too confused especially towards the end. I think I slightly prefer Michael’s version, but neither are particularly inspiring.”

Sean – 6 – “Country pop seems to be a lot more common these days than it was a few years back, so this isn’t quite the standout it could’ve been (thanks a lot, the Netherlands!). Holly is the youngest performer here so I hope her X Factor experience has helped her to really own the stage, and a likeable persona and charisma could do wonders for this in Salford. It’s a pleasant listen, but a little generic considering the style of music.”

Zack – 7 – “I do prefer this version of “Bigger than us” with it’s country-pop influences, but again, the source material is just not the strongest. It will be interesting to see who wins this vote-off between Michael and Holly.”

Total – 27

Jordan Clarke – Freaks

David – 7 – “It starts a bit off-putting, before I really enjoy the vibe the song has. Jordan seems like the perfect guy to the song, and he adds quite the energy to it as well, so it goes very well together overall. Yet, I do feel there is something missing, I don’t know exactly what, but I do have this feeling, that maybe it can get a bit too much very fast.”

James – 7 – “This is the better take on “Freaks.” As with the winning version of “Sweet Lies,” Clarke’s version of “Freaks” has more of an impactful chorus resulting in a more anthemic take. Eurovision fans like to sing along, and this version encourages that. Clarke also has a very distinctive voice, so he’ll stand out among the other male singers selected for Eurovision thus far. I’d be happy if this went to Eurovision, though I still have a slight preference for Kerrie-Anne.”

Robert – 1 – “Freaks is a terrible song. I need to make that abundantly clear. I hate it with a genuine passion. Jordan does the better version of the song, but this is saying so little it’s barely worth mentioning. The music is confused at best and the lyricist appears to have forgotten which country he’s writing for: we don’t have soccer here… Jordan is an OK singer and maybe he could be our entrant with a song that’s worth listening to. Sadly, this is the literal opposite of this.”

Sean – 4 – “For some reason I can see a ringmaster at the circus staging for this one… perhaps it’s part of a Brendon Urie / twenty one pilots fever dream that this song gives me. Again, much like MAID’s version, this song is just a little too odd to lend itself to a strong performance for Eurovision, but with this being the superior version I’m hoping Jordan can make a decent fist of it.”

Zack – 6 – “The Americanization of Eurovision is apparent (“picked last in soccer”). It’s football (as my colleague notes, American football is better off being called “Handegg”). Again, another middle of the road production that is nice and plods along, but again, i’m not sure how much this’ll stand out in the mix.”

Total – 25

Kerrie-Anne – Sweet Lies

David – 1 – “This one is very strange, cause when I pay attention to the lyrics, then I really can’t put them together with an up-tempo pop song, that’s how badly mismatched it is. The beat is nice and I like how Kerrie-Anne puts in the effort to make it good, but it just goes all very wrong, no harmony at all, which is really off-putting to me.”

James – 8 – “Oh Lordy, this is dated, but it’s great. It takes chutzpah to go the disco diva route with a club banger, and Kerrie-Anne pulls it off. But the choice works as the lyrics demand urgency and lend themselves more to the increased bpm here vs. Anisa’s slower interpretation. I am not convinced this will win Eurovision (she’ll do us proud with a Top 15 finish), but Kerrie-Anne’s is my favorite of the British selection, and as a former teacher she sure “schooled” the others. Ha ha. I’ll be here all week.”

Robert – 8 – “Ahh, finally we get to the good song! Kerrie-Anne has the upbeat poppy version and it’s really good! She has a great voice and the music matches it well – the chorus build is punchy and lively and the song feels like a cohesive whole. It does get a bit repetitive at times, but the musical variation does enough to keep it interesting regardless. It’s not going to slay the scoreboard – none of them will – but it’s our best shot at getting out of the 20s.”

Sean – 9 – “Be still my beating heart. For YEARS I have wanted my country to provide the Eurovision world with a dance banger and we could finally have this in “Sweet Lies”. Yes, it’s a little bit retro chic and 90s house, but this style is big at the moment and I wouldn’t be shocked to hear this song in the charts. The Sigala / Galantis sound is right up my street, Kerrie-Anne has a great vocal and the only thing stopping this from being my first ever 10/10 for a British hopeful is the fact the bass could be beefier. No, it’s not a world beater, but with a revamp we could finally bring the party to Eurovision in Tel Aviv!”

Zack – 8 – “Demo 90s dance escapade. And I love it. A revamp is definitely in need, but the bones of the song are used well with this version (and it even hides some of the weaknesses that I feel are apparent in the other version).”

Total – 34

MAID – Freaks

David – 4 – “I’m enjoying the harmony between the girls, they are giving me some positive O’G3NE vibes, but that’s probably about it. They are really lifting the song a lot here, cause to me the song overall just missing, so I’m having trouble finding a proper hook in general, and just like that, the song gets forgotten.”

James – 4 – “I will say the three ladies of MAID harmonize well. The bass drops are annoying and sound like star ship engines from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek. Other than that, this song is tepid and, to continue the Star Trek metaphor, does not achieve warp speed.”

Robert – 0 – “So I thought that Jordan’s version was terrible. This, somehow, manages to be worse. The backing music, contrary to Jordan’s, manages to fall apart almost from the first moment. It genuinely feels like the studio performance is a live one gone wrong. The chorus is appalling and just painful to listen to. This would genuinely be the worst entry we have sent in a very long time, and that’s a tough competition to win!”

Sean – 3 – “They have interesting voices that blend well together, but they don’t deserve to be stuck with a song like this. The minimalistic approach can work with certain songs but not with ones as bland as this. The only way I could see this working is some form of dark mysterious staging which I cannot see happening. Oh, and (same for Jordan) using “soccer” in a British selection song is sacrilege.”

Zack – 7 – “This is on the verge of genius and just plain creepy. If they can stage this well and uniquely, it can stand out in a good way. I don’t have faith that the UK will know what to do with this and would likely pull a “North Macedonia” and muck up the staging. Song-wise, I perhaps slightly prefer this version over Jordan’s because of the “what-ifs”.”

Total – 18

Michael Rice – Bigger Than Us

David – 8 – “This is exactly what you’d expect from this song, as soon you start listening to it. Starting slowly, constantly building up, before it just explodes. I feel this is something that is the comfort zone for the UK and that we’ve seen it so many times. However, I really like it, as cliché it might be, this has something powerful that just captures my attention and hopefully the live vocal is just as good as the studio version.”

James – 8 – “Hip hop with a gospel twist. Nice. My favorite of the two versions of “Bigger Than Us” though. The decision to go the gospel route with a singer as powerful as Rice works, though the backing vocals give the song the heft and support Rice needs, and how they do that with five singers in the hall with those awkward angles at Tel Aviv should be interesting. My mood could change, but for Eurovision 2019 I am craving a party, so in that sense Kerrie-Anne’s edges Rice out overall on that very subjective, arguably flimsy, judgment.”

Robert – 6 – “For me, this is a decent performance of the song. It flows nicely in the chorus but the verses are perhaps a little too quiet for my liking. The full chorus effect is nice, but not too sure how that can be achieved with a maximum of five backing singers come Eurovision. It has a lot of the right ESC ingredients, especially the key change, but it does not feel particularly memorable. I’m not going to get excited about it unless it can really explode live, but it’s a decent effort.”

Sean – 7 – “Michael’s version of “Bigger Than Us” is a very well produced, modern and slick piano ballad, with some haunting gospel back-ups thrown in for good measure, and cliché lyrics aside this is one of the best ballads in a UK selection recently. While I have no doubt over his ability, this song in studio has an ethereal wall of sound style of production that builds wonderfully. Can this really be replicated properly on stage with just six people given the task? Time will tell, but this could be the downfall.”

Zack – 6 – “This is middle-of-the-road pop and it does not do anything for me. However, with that said, this is quite good production and the UK needs something that is interesting, but not too interesting that it will stand out in a bad way. I genuinely believe Michael may not have the best song of the bunch, but he is the UK’s best hope to end up on the left side of the board.”

Total – 35

Let’s see how this translates into points for our six UK hopefuls…

  1. Michael Rice – Bigger Than Us – 35
  2. Kerrie-Anne – Sweet Lies – 34
  3. Anisa – Sweet Lies – 28
  4. Holly Tandy – Bigger Than Us – 27
  5. Jordan Clarke – Freaks – 25
  6. MAID – Freaks – 18

It’s a close call, but Michael Rice’s “Bigger Than Us” has just edged it as our choice for Tel Aviv with 35 points, followed closely by Kerrie-Anne’s version of “Sweet Lies” on 34 points. Jordan Clarke’s version of Freaks would be our other choice for the superfinal, although he only finished 5th overall.

Do #YOU agree with our team’s choice? Who should represent the United Kingdom? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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