The UK selection process is over. The British public have made their choice and for once, they haven’t made a mess of it. They nearly did but I’m prepared to overlook that because in the end, what matters is the final result
When it was announced that a peer of the realm was going to write my country’s entry, I must admit that I felt an excitement that I haven’t felt for a while. Please don’t tell my wife I said that! I’m nothing if not patriotic, and it has hurt me to see my great country sink to the bottom of the scoreboard. We’ve won the contest five times, only Ireland can boast more victories. We’ve finished second fifteen times. Overall, this must be the best record of any country, but we haven’t been in the top ten since 2002.
The BBC has tampered with the selection process many times, but essentially it has been the same format, here are the songs now you pick one. This has led to a choice of song which leaves many questions about the basis on which the public have voted. Were they voting for a song they thought was right for Eurovision? Were they voting for the song because they didn’t want to take it seriously (a legacy of the Wogan years perhaps)? Or were they voting for what they thought was the best song. No, silly me, it couldn’t possibly be that. Anyway, instead of choosing the song, the British public were asked this time to find the singer to perform it. The song would be taken care of by the legend of musical theatre that is Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and, as it turned out, multi award winning songwriter, Diane Warren. All we had to do was find the right singer from a bunch that had been handpicked by ALW himself in an X-Factor style competition. So, in theory, we couldn’t go far wrong. The only question was would we pick an Alexandra (please!) or a Leon (we all know Rhydian was 100 times better and it was only Scottish votes that gave Leon victory)
First to leave the show in week one was Damien. Fair enough, he’s a very good singer but there was another solo male in the contest who was better. Second out was Charlotte. Again, fair enough, give her a few more years and some experience and she will be a decent choice, but she’s not ready for such a challenge yet. Emperors of Soul were next to go. I can’t argue with that either. They sound very good, but at this stage, ALW knew what his song was like and there was a risk that in their hands, It’s My Time would have sounded like a Westlife song. Imagine that if you dare, I certainly can’t, not if I want to sleep tonight.
That left Mark, The Twins and Jade. Mark had been the most consistent performer over the weeks, The Twins had the likeability factor while Jade was the most contemporary. Before the final show, ALW had been reported as saying that if a particular act won, he “can’t perform miracles”. He didn’t say which of the three he was referring to, but popular opinion points to The Twins. It was interesting to note that whenever he praised them, it was always on their personalities, and not their voices. Knowing the tendency of the British public to get it wrong, I feared The Twins winning. That was until I heard them sing It’s My Time. They actually did it well and, providing they would be able to control their nerves and avoid crying (again!!), they demonstrated that they could do the song justice.
As it turned out, Mark finished third and The Twins second. That left Jade (my favourite from the start) as the winner, and there followed a huge sigh of relief from me, and a comically grumpy face from my four year old son, who wanted The Twins to win. More than one person has suggested that she is a plant and was going to win all along. Let me be clear, I couldn’t give a monkeys!!! She is a fantastic singer and that is what really counts. All I want is someone representing my country who will not let it down, and she won’t. The fact that she said in the first show what an honour it would be to represent England only adds to her appeal as far as I’m concerned.
Don’t place too much emphasis on the version of It’s My Time she sang on Saturday. This version is surely a rough one given the lack of time ALW had to arrange it and Jade to learn it. So expect something slightly different come May 16th. I hope and expect a song which builds gradually with each verse and chorus, and with more beef in the arrangement. Oh Lord, I pray you will work your magic. Your country needs you to do just that.