Category Archives: United Kingdom

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?

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It’s Official: Bonnie Tyler for the United Kingdom

Well, after months of waiting and watching the rumors fly, with seemingly every living name on the British music scene suggested as an option, the BBC has finally come out and given the fans what they’ve wanted: a name.  And what a name it is!  Following veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck in 2012, the BBC has again reached into the vault for a classic name and given us Bonnie TylerRead the rest of this entry

United Kingdom: Engelbert Humperdinck releases “Love Will Set You Free”

After keeping mum for most of the National Final season, the BBC dropped a bombshell on Eurovision fans by announcing that veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck would be representing the United Kingdom in Baku this May.  Once the shockwaves subsided, people started to wonder about the song he’d bring to the audience on the Caspian Sea.  We weren’t even thrown a bone as to the title of the entry; all we knew was that it was to be composed by the team of Martin Terefe and Sacha Skarbek, who have individually worked with artists such as Mary J. Blige, Train, Adele, and Jason Mraz.

This morning, as participating countries convened in Baku for the Head of Delegations Meeting, we finally got our answer.

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Engelbert Humperdinck for the United Kingdom!

As we approach the end of the Eurovision Preseason, the BBC had been eerily silent on their process for Baku.  As other countries held national finals, made internal picks, or at the very least announced plans, the United Kingdom put itself on complete informational lockdown.  Rumors floated about, ranging from Adele to Right Said Fred to the Spice Girls, and just about everyone in between.  Jaws dropped today, however, when it was announced that veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck would be taking the stage in Baku. Read the rest of this entry

Raphael Gualazzi’s Epic Showcase

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Italy’s entry this year.  Raphael Gualazzi, who’ll be performing “Madness of Love” on Saturday, is a brilliant jazz musician who takes his cues from both the old school beginnings of the genre as well as newer styles and techniques.  (His album “Reality and Fantasy” is already out, so definitely give it a listen!)  I had the chance to attend an exclusive press conference and showcase with Raphael and his band, with a special cameo from the boys in Blue (and France’s Amaury Vassili was seen in the audience).  The venue was a tiny, intimate little space, and I was sitting close enough to the action to see the sweat dripping from Raphael’s brow as he pounded away at the piano.  At times, his hands were absolute blurs (you should have seen his rendition of “Caravan”!), and there were a few instances where the sheet music sitting on the piano flew off of the rack and onto the keyboard, but he kept on playing with gusto.  Blue stopped by and performed “I Can” and “Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word” while Raphael tickled the ivories behind them…unbelievably cool.

A fantastic interview with Blue!

Wonderful, professional guys, and even more so when someone brought their cappuccinos! 🙂

::insert fangirl “squee!” here::

New Videos from Serbia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom

Adding to the list of new videos for this year’s ESC competitors are new clips from Serbia, Sweden, and the UK. 

Although Serbia’s Nina will be singing “Caroban” in Serbian, a new video has just popped up with her singing the English-language rendition, “Magical”.  The swinging-60’s vibe remains vibrant and sweet, and Nina’s just cheek-pinchingly adorable!  (Very Twiggy-meets-Edie-Sedgwick!)

Next up, Sweden’s Eric Saade has released an official preview video for “Popular”:

The lesson in this clip?  All of life’s problems can be solved via a dance-off. 

And finally (for now, at least), the United Kingdom’s representatives, Blue, have unveiled a new video for “I Can”:

It’s not a secret that I love this song, so having the boys release a second video was an unexpected treat!  Furthermore, the BBC aired a special on Blue’s preparation for Düsseldorf, “Eurovision: Your Country Needs Blue“.  With appearances by Cliff Richard, Lulu, and others, it’s a pretty cool peek into what goes into putting a Eurovision entry together.

Until next time!

Blue’s "I Can" finally revealed

After months of waiting, the United Kingdom’s entry “I Can”, performed by veteran boy band Blue, was revealed tonight after a performance on the BBC’s “Graham Norton Show”.  Graham is not only an avid Eurovision fan, but he’s also been the network’s commentator on the ESC finals since Terry Wogan’s departure after the 2008 event.  The song’s studio version was leaked yesterday, but it wasn’t until tonight that we saw Blue perform their entry live:

I normally am not a huge fan of boy bands…I grew up surrounded by screaming hordes of Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC fans, and I generally just rolled my eyes and put on my Dave Matthews Band or La Ley CDs.  Plus, while Blue was huge in the UK, Ireland, and parts of continental Europe, they never really made much of an impact on the charts here in the US.  So, when people started flipping out over Blue’s reunion and the fact that they’d been chosen to represent the UK in the ESC, I was interested, but skeptical.  Frankly, I had been unimpressed by many similar acts in Eurovision over the years.  When I saw Lena Meyer-Landrut’s adorable reaction to Blue’s participation (which has unfortunately been removed from Youtube…bummer!), I was intrigued.  But after seeing “I Can” performed live, I’m completely convinced.  This might be the UK’s best hope for a Eurovision win since Katrina and the Waves.  It’s instantly memorable and performed well by a group with a decade of experience under their belts (displaying strong harmonies, and Lee Ryan’s high notes are golden).  Also, the fact that they already have an established fan base all over the continent gives them a major leg up, even over nations in a larger voting bloc.  I have a very difficult time imagining this not hitting the Top Five, and may very well bring the UK their first victory since 1997.

I might not go running out and tattooing Duncan James’s face on my right bicep, but if “I Can” wins the whole thing this May, I won’t feel the need to hide under my bed in a fetal position with my Ben Folds Five albums and Foo Fighters t-shirt, rocking back and forth and whimpering.  And for a staunch former hater of boy bands, that says a lot.  Very well done, UK!

It’s Blue for the United Kingdom!

And the news from the Big Five is coming fast and furious this week (well, except for Italy…but they’ve been out of the game for fourteen years, so I suppose we can forgive them for being a bit slow on the uptake, right?).

After months of teasing and rumors from the United Kingdom, with names as varied as Mika, Charlotte Church, Pixie Lott, and Katherine Jenkins being tossed around as possible representatives, the BBC just threw Eurofans a massive curveball by announcing that the recently-reunited boy-band Blue would be the British flag bearers for Düsseldorf!  Not only that, but the BBC has taken all of the fun out of the Preselection process…by completely eliminating the Preselection in the first place!  This is the first time since 1994 that the UK has gone for an internal selection, and the first time since…well…ever…that the British public will have no say over either the singer or the song!  It’s hard to tell if this is to cut down on costs, or if Blue’s selected song “I Can” is just too good to pass up.  (The song has yet to be released, so it’s still a bit of a mystery for the time being.)

Blue first formed back in 2001, broke up in 2005, and reformed in 2009.  They’ve had a string of hits that charted not only in the UK, but also all over Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.  They’ve even released some of their songs in Italian to a positive reception.  They’re not as well-known in the United States, but one of their first major hits was a remake of R&B group Next’s “Too Close“.  They’ve also had some fantastic collaborations, with artists from Lil’ Kim to Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, and Sir Elton John.

This might be Blue’s first trip to Eurovision, but some of the individual members of the group have toyed with the ESC in the past.  Member Lee Ryan wrote a song that was submitted to the 2005 Preselection (Andy Scott Lee’s “Guardian Angel”), Antony Costa performed in the Preselection the following year (“It’s a Beautiful Thing”), and Duncan James was a member of the panel that helped select Jade Ewan in 2009. 

For me, though, as soon as I heard that Blue would be the British representative this year, my mind automatically went to a scene from one of my favorite movies, “Love Actually”.  Sadly, I can’t embed the clip in this post, but here’s a link!  Enjoy (I hope the members of Blue, at least, have had a good laugh about it…if not…::awkward!::)!

The Rumor Mill…

Hey, everyone!  Pardon my lapse in posting over the past month or so…what can I say?  I was a bit burnt out after this year’s Eurovision Final.  It’s sort of like having a massive holiday dinner, full of all of your favorite foods, surrounded by friends and family…after it’s all done, all you want to do is curl up and take a nap.  But I’m back on my feet, and looking forward to dishing up more ESC-tastic goodness for all of you!

(Oh, and by the way…650 readers?  Thank you all so much for stopping by!  Feel free to leave me a note in the Comments section, and let me know what you think of my little piece of the Internet.)

Anyway, even though it’s only July, and the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest is barely cold, we’re already hearing news of the 2011 edition!  Here are two confirmed bits of news (and one juicy rumor that I can only hope is true):

1) OFFICIAL:  Lena Meyer-Landrut will be defending her title for Germany in 2011.  This has been confirmed by broadcaster NDR, but no other details have been provided yet.  This will be only the third time that a winning performer returns the very next year to defend their title; the other two singers were Lys Assia coming back in 1957 and Corry Brokken in 1958.  Sadly, Lys came in 8th place out of 10 that year, and Corry came in last place…will Lena fare much better?  We have nearly a year to see…but while we wait to hear what Deutchland’s plan is, Lena’s been keeping very busy.  She just released her fourth single, “Touch a New Day” (written by Stefan Raab), and her album “My Cassette Player” has already been certified Double Platinum in Germany.

In the meantime, Germany has yet to decide where the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest will take place.  The official announcement will likely happen in December, but there are about eight cities vying for the honor, including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Lena’s hometown of Hanover.

2) OFFICIAL: The Netherlands, after their disappointing performance in Oslo, have finally washed their hands of Pierre Kartner and have decided to send the Volendam-based band 3Js to Germany next year.  They’ve had quite a few Top-10 Hits in their homeland, and sing almost exclusively in Dutch.  Here’s their most recent single, “Geloven in het Leven (Believe in Life)”:

Not bad at all!  And, at the very least, a lot better than the most recent Dutch entry.  Even better, 3Js will have their entry selected in a much more open and fair system than last year, when the song had been written beforehand, and only a small jury and in-house audience could vote, with songwriter Kartner eventually deciding the outcome.  The band will submit a number of new songs, and the best will be selected by a jury and an open televote.

3) RUMOR: According to credible sources, the BBC is in talks with pop singer/songwriter Mika to have him compose the UK’s 2011 Eurovision entry.  After the debacle of this year’s “That Sounds Good To Me”, bringing in a fresh, current, and globally-appealing figure like Mika would be an absolute masterstroke.  He was born Michael Penniman to an American father and Lebanese mother in Beirut, but moved to Paris and then London at a young age.  He has had his name batted around before in ESC circles; there were rumors a few years ago that when Lebanon was considering a return/debut into Eurovision (they were due to enter in 2005, and even had their song selected, but a refusal to show the Israeli entry not only forced their withdrawal from the show, but also had the broadcaster slapped with a three-year ban), Mika would carry their banner.  As this has not happened, we’re left hanging! 

Despite his young age (only 26), Mika is a prolific and highly talented artist.  His breakthrough hit, “Grace Kelly”, was a global smash, reaching the Top Ten in the UK, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and many other charts.  It made it to #12 in Canada, and #13 on the US Pop 100. 

If these rumors actually pan out to contain an iota of truth, this could be absolutely huge for British Eurovision hopes.  While “It’s My Time” was a beautiful song, and performed very capably by Jade Ewen back in 2009, the UK really hasn’t sent a successful up-tempo number since 1998’s “Where Are You“.  Mika could help bring back some measure of credibility to Eurovision in the United Kingdom.  Now we’ll just have to see if this is actually true…