Less than a week has passed since the 57th Eurovision Song Contest concluded the announcement of its most recent winner. After a wait of 13 years, Sweden took the Eurovision crown home, thanks to Loreen’s effort ‘Euphoria’ ,crushing the rest of the competition including UK hopeful Engelbert Humperdinck who ended up second last. Since the British media and public have agreed on one thing: the UK should withdraw from Eurovision.
Let’s be honest, the British media likes to blow things out of proportion. Since the islands results decreased in the late nineties (Precious (ESC ’99) anyone?), and throughout the noughties with an anticlimax ‘nil points’ in 2003 (Cry Cry Jemini), the image of the Eurovision Song Contest has suffered serious bruises and never recovered. Is there a magic formula to get the British public back on the side of Eurovision without having to withdraw?
When talking about Eurovision with friends, who are not into it themselves, I usually get to hear ‘it’s all about political voting’ and ‘the UK is never going to win it anyway’. Both comments are huge misunderstandings as the top ten of the past five contests have seen a handful of West-European countries end up in the top ten. 3 out of 5 winners from these past five years have also been Western countries (Norway in 2009, Germany in 2010 and now Sweden). Germany especially proves the ‘Oh the UK can’t win, because we’re automatic finalists and everybody hates us’ statement is false and was once again reinforced this year with Italy, Germany and Spain, three of the big five contributors, all making the top ten. It’s needless to say that these statements have been invented to put the blame elsewhere rather than looking at the real causes of unsuccessful attempts. Added to that, Eurovision is like a bet in your local betting shop, so when you take part you take the risk of losing out and coming last.
So what could get Eurovision its credibility back in the UK? Coming from a nation myself who’s not particularly known for its great Eurovision results, Belgium has seen its interest decreasing and its expectations set rather low, however there is no ‘In it to win it’-approach, as with the English. The ‘We take part because we want to be there and showcase music’ approach, is perhaps not good for interest, but it lowers the expectations which equally lowers resentment for failure. Every year the appointment of a British candidate gets pumped up with slogans of ” we’ll do it this year.. we’ll win it” but falls flat on the face. Get rid of that approach, BBC, take a step back and don’t create a hype. We also need to question whether Eurovision is really all about winning? Surely not… it should be about sharing your music with the rest of Europe, especially those countries who rely on their own shared musical heritage (or what ‘commons’ call bloc voting). Winning the title should be a bonus.
The United Kingdom’s music industry is the second biggest music industry globally. It’s an ideal position to be in, because it’s a business who knows what’s current and what has hit potential. Why should X Factor rejects (and clearly not the best ones), or composers past their expiry date (Waterman anyone) even be considered when there’s plenty of talent out there who actually can turn the tide for the UK? Let’s blame the ‘I don’t want to do it’ approach which personally confuses whether to see it as pure arrogance or fear for unknown, but English artists should embrace the idea of representing their country and grabbing this unique opportunity that allows them to perform in front of a 125 million audience worldwide.
So how do you make it work? Simples… by using the ”Eurovision 2012 is dead… long live UK 2013” approach. The approach is simple and used by Sweden for the last ten years leaving them with a rather interesting track record. Once the Eurovision Song Contest is over, the Swedish team starts with the preparations for the next year in finding the right artists, inviting composers, etc. If the BBC would follow the same approach they would allow themselves enough breathing space to check out different routes and different alternatives. Take a step back, and relax, there is no rush. The approach also allows artists carte blanche which would make it a lot more appealing for them to consider taking part in the first place. By allowing them carte blanche, and allowing them a song which is almost a part of them, the song will be more honest and true to the singers identity. Win-Win situation really.
Taking a step back to allow yourself to find the right artists who brings a piece of music that the act connects with, and a relaxed approach of ”we’re here because we want to be here and to show we’re worth being the second most successful music industry globally”, the UK could easily held its head up high during the Eurovision. Whether they then come first or last won’t matter much, at least the UK will be able to leave the competition with its head held high.
D. De Groodt
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