Thinking… can the UK win Eurovision 2017?

The United Kingdom was once a dominating force in the Eurovision Song Contest with no less than 5 victories and 15 2nd place finishes. Our winning songs are now classics; “Puppet on a String”, “Boom Bang-a-Bang”, “Save Your Kisses For Me”, “Making Your Mind Up” and “Love Shine A Light”.

In recent years, however, the UK has fared less well. In fact in the 21st Century, the UK has finished in the top 10 only twice, back in 2002 with Jessica Garlick and “Come Back” and in 2009 with Jade Ewen and the Andrew Lloyd Webber song “It’s My Time”. We received the infamous ‘null points’ in 2003 with Jemini and finished last in 2008 and 2010.

Whenever the UK and Eurovision are discussed, everyone immediately says that we’ll finish last, even more so now with Brexit! The recent poor results, in my opinion, are down to what utter crap we’ve sent. Andy Abraham, Josh Dubovie, Engelbert Humperdinck and Electro Velvet were all, let’s be frank, pretty awful. If we send acts whose songs aren’t good quality and will get lost in a sea of 25 or 26 songs, then of course we are going to have bad results. In that period of Eurovision, songs had to appeal enough to both juries and televoters so that it got a high enough average ranking to get itself into the top 10 to be awarded points.

With the new scoring system, a 50/50 split of jury and televote, the winning songs have to appeal to both jury and televote but songs which do well can get away with appealing towards just one. Look at last year: Malta came 4th in the jury vote with 137 points but came 21st in the televote with 16 points and they finished 12th; Poland came 25th in the jury with 7 points but 4th in the televote with 222 points and they finished 8th.

Let’s take last year for the UK. Joe and Jake had an okay song with “You’re Not Alone” which was somewhat appreciated by the juries – we even received 12 points from Malta, our first 12 points since 2011 – however the way that the BBC staged the song was amateurish and with the dark Stockholm arena, the selfie background they attempted got lost. The vocals were pretty lacklustre and the whole thing just got lost especially preceding Armenia’s Iveta Mukuchyan.

This year, I certainly think that Lucie Jones will appeal to the jury vote. Lucie delivers a powerful vocal and emotional performance with staging that sends shivers down your spine. There’s a very simple piano melody in the first verse before the instrumentation takes a standard ballad into 2017, adding texture and dynamism. The juries should rate this song very highly.

Regarding the televote, I think this could do better than we might expect. The UK is 18th in the running order; as I pointed out on Twitter, songs in position 18 have the highest average finishing place of all (since 2004 at least) and the last song to win in position 18 was Emmelie De Forest’s Only Teardrops.

Arguably this means nothing in the grand scheme of things but since the producers decide which songs go where in the running order, this means that producers certainly think this could be a dark horse to win! Last year, Russia’s Sergey Lazarev, the pre-contest favourite, was in this position. In 2007 and 2008, Ukraine had this position and finished 2nd both times with Verka Serduchka and Ani Lorak (who happened to sing Lucie Jones’ favourite Eurovision song!).

Not only that, we are surrounded by some fairly mediocre songs from Spain which is repetitive, Greece which is nothing special, Norway which is too linear and weak and Cyprus which is again nothing special. This stands out in the right way in this sea of 5 songs.

Moreover, the staging is reminiscent of last year’s winner, Jamala. Before Lucie’s high note which she delivers crisply and cleanly, the lights get sucked in behind Lucie before exploding out in gold all over the backdrop. It’s that sort of staging which earned Jamala many televotes and it could be the staging which gives people shivers and something to remember the UK for. It looks like something a winner’s performance should be.

I don’t think we can win. It would be amazing if we could win 20 years after Katrina and The Waves. I do think that finishing last is highly improbable with the songs from Spain, Cyprus, Austria, Germany, Belarus and Ukraine all being much weaker than the UK’s song. We could finish last in the televote but with friendly nations like Ireland, Malta and Australia, we should get some points and the jury vote should carry us through.

Would you watch a football match and not support your team because you know they will lose? No, you’d support them and want them to win. This is by far the UK’s best chance to do well at Eurovision in a long while so we should at least lend Lucie Jones our support. We’re 7th in the odds and that would be our best finishing position since 2011.

Don’t worry Lucie, I will never give up on you!

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