Molly’s “Children of the Universe”: The UK Changes Tactics

molly-smitten-downesAfter years of disappointing results by the United Kingdom at Eurovision, the BBC was forced to take a long, hard look at their process for the Contest.  Veterans like Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler may have brought a dash of notoriety (and, by extension, ratings) to the proceedings, but barely made an impact on the scoreboard.  Bringing in a noted composer such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber worked nicely in 2009, but trying to duplicate the formula the next year gave the UK their third last-place finish in a less than a decade.  Dedicated British fans gnashed their teeth in frustration, and established, contemporary artists pooh-poohed the ESC experience.  What was a network (and a nation) to do?

Executive Producer Guy Freeman decided to explore an unorthodox route in his efforts to bring pride back to British Eurovision.  In an open letter published at the end of February, it was revealed that this year’s act would be a fresh, nearly unknown face, plucked from the archives of BBC Introducing (a launching pad for unsigned British talent), with a song specifically written for Eurovision.  Around the same time, an email went out to members of the OGAE UK, saying that some sort of music video was being recorded in Mayfair the evening before the BBC was to reveal the artist and song in a Red Button special.  The fandom was abuzz with rumors and hints, and I couldn’t wade through my Twitter feed without a dozen names flying at me.

While many fans were exasperated by the amount of time they had to sit in a holding pattern, waiting for news from their network, the eventual reveal of “Children of the Universe” by Molly Smitten-Downes (or simply “Molly“) was worth the wait.

Molly, who will be 27 by the time she takes the stage in Copenhagen, is an award-winning, yet unsigned singer-songwriter from Leicester.  Despite her 2008 Top Ten hit as a featured member of Stunt as they collaborated with SASH! on “Raindrops (Encore Une Fois)“, she has yet to find major-label success on her own.  Some of her other recordings can be found on her YouTube page or her official website.

I have to say that I’m really excited not only by the BBC’s change of strategy, but also by the idea that new, yet experienced talent will be carrying the Union Flag to Denmark.  “Children of the Universe” carries a very ESC-friendly message, but not in a way that’s too fluffy, treacly, or clichéd.  The song is anthemic and engaging, and Molly’s voice is different and unique enough for it not to appear too generic.  As someone who was more or less plucked from obscurity, she has this sort of relate-able quality to her.  A young singer-songwriter watching Eurovision at home this May might see a bit of themselves in Molly, and not only look into BBC Introducing, but also give Eurovision itself a second look.  Despite what some pundits might say, our beloved Contest isn’t about glitz, glitter, or pyrotechnics; it’s about the song.

For more thoughts on the BBC’s decision, might I recommend checking out Ewan Spence from ESC Insight’s opinions on the matter?

Posted on March 5, '14, in 2014, United Kingdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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