Sunday, 17 May 2009


For as long as I can remember, this time every year we would all sit down to do one thing....


Originally started in 1956 as a way of bringing all European nations together under the auspices of a singing competition it has been dogged in recent years by accusations of bloc voting, especially amongst the Soviet satellites who tend to vote for either their neighbours or the mothership, Russia.

Adding in to this was the fact that everywhere in Europe, to put it plainly, didn't like the UK, so we went from placing in a consistently high position to consistently coming right down at the bottom, which is where poor Andy Abrahams found himself last year with a horrifying nul points.

There have been many reasons put forth as to why we were performing so poorly in the competition, I think it has been a combination of a few things...

a) Political voting - this has undoubtedly been a problem for a good few years now, you can predict that without fail Latvia is going to give their 12 points to Lithuania and that Finland, Norway and Sweden tend to award each other top points. The reason this is such an issue is that there are so bloody many of these countries - there are a billion little ex-Soviet Union countries so it stands to reason that it's more likely one of those are going to win.

b) Crap songs - Eurovision is famed for being a bit like spending an evening in a gay nightclub in Spain - trashy, catchy ditties with extra helpings of cheese on the side. It was where pop came to die. We in the UK have always seen Eurovision like this but failed to realise over the years that the crazy little tunes were being replaced by more ballads and, actually pretty reasonable (although you'd never admit it) songs. Yes there are still some countries that will appear on the stage and sing something so bizarre you sit with your mouth open but they're not as regular as they used to be. We kept entering complete dross however, Scooch being a particular low point *shudder*

c) The artist - This was overlooked for many many years. Most of the entrants the countries choose are well-known in, not only their countries, but in other European countries as well. People see an artist they know and like, they're more likely to vote for them. Simples. Instead we have sent novelty pop acts, barely known over here, and X-Factor rejects. We should have been sending Take That - we'd have wiped the floor with them all!!

d) Automatic placing - As one of the main financiers of the contest, we recieve an automatic place each year. Everyone-else has to battle it out in a series of semi-finals to win their place - there's a total of 42 potential entries, only 24 or so will make it. Because we automatically get a place there's less reason to try hard and this leads nicely on to the fifth and final point....

e) The Cardinal Sin - One of the most important reasons for our inability to score highly? We have not been taking the competition seriously. It's still seen as a bit naff and a bit silly. This is not the case in Europe. It's a big deal. A HUGE deal in fact. Why should people vote for us when we so arrogantly treat it with disdain and think it beneath us.

What could be done?! I hear you ask. (No really, I do.)

Point a) was solved by a re-arranging of the voting system. Instead of it being purely down to the public vote, there would a return to the old jury system of voting, where a panel of industry experts vote for their favourite song. Their votes would be combined with the public vote so give an overall score.

How to solve point b)? Enter Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Who better to write a song for us than the man behind Phantom of the Opera?! It wouldn't be difficult for him to do, (it apparently took him 2 days to write it) and it would go down well with the industry panels of other countries.

Point c) was sorted out by that most favourite of tv shows nowadays - reality talent contest. Fills up some space in the Saturday night schedule, make some money by getting people to vote for their favourite, come out with someone that can a) sing and b) the public like.

Point d)? Let's start taking it seriously people!! People were going mental last year saying "We're paying for the bloody thing" "Waste of licence money" "blah blah blah". Well then! Let's try and make it worth our while. We can't pull out altogether because that would be unsportsmanlike and we British pride ourselves on being jolly good losers. After all it's the taking part that counts. RUBBISH! WE MUST WIN! WE MUST TRY AND WIN!

And most importantly, point e). Sir Webber took his song and his winner and they went on a massive charm offensive around Europe, doing television appearances, getting the song out there and showing the rest of Europe that we were taking part in this competition properly too.

The result?

We came fifth.

You might not think this is good but believe me this is an amazing feat. We haven't done so well in years and years and years and years. We were never going to win (that accolade went to Norway with a stonking 387 points, the most points ever scored in Eurovision history) but we were up there in what was, for the first time since I can remember, a proper song competition.

The new voting system has worked like a dream. Yes there was still bloc voting but it didn't have as much of an effect on the overall scores and was just one of those funny things you can let slide when it isn't making a mockery of the competition.

This year was Eurovision's last chance with me. I remember having a temper tantrum last year, stomping about saying I wasn't watching it any. more. Then I thought I should be fair and give one more go. And I saw this, and you know what? I was a teeny bit proud. (But don't tell anyone). Listen to her voice man!

And I'm back in love.

Next year - Eurovision Party!!

You're all invited.

No comments: