So, I watched the Eurovision Song Contest last night. Surely, of all the things that America misses out on by not being Europe (long history, great architecture, pedestrianised city centers, affordable universal health care) this one has to be the greatest loss.
In Eurovision, a whole continent, plus honorary members Israel, come together to cheer and jeer a range of ridonculous pop monstrosities. From the positively suicidal dirge of unrequited love from a Russian group wearing moth eaten sweaters, to the somewhat surreal Spanish entry with dancing toys, to the epilepsy inducing Turkish strobe-laden entry complete with a self-harming robotknight to the straightforward catchy pop song of winners Germany it’s a wild collection of all that is cheesy in Europe.
But despite being pop behemoths and key sponsors of the televised event (meaning an automatic place in the finals), the UK has consistently done badly in recent years. And last night was no exception. A forgettable Josh D-something-or-other delivered a poor song in lack-lustre style.
A lot of countries want to win and a lot of countries put a lot of effort into it. Azerbaijan (linked above) brought in Brittney Spears choreographer and had a light up dress and a light up set of stairs and commissioned a song from a chart topper and yet still failed to crack the top 5. But the UK brought in a pop svengali Pete Waterman and used the tried and tested Idol style elimination competition to choose the singer. And while it wasn’t quite as shameful as nil points efforts of the past the UK finished DEAD LAST.
So here’s my plan for a winning UK entry:
1. Further devolution
The UK’s constituent countries, Norther Ireland, Wales and Scotland now enjoy their own assemblies or parliaments and so should have their own Eurovision entries. Upon splitting Yugoslavia has done much better in Eurovision – Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and FYR Macedonia have all done well in recent years – some even producing winners. Yeah, sure they’ve paid a heavy price for Eurovision glory, but I’m not suggesting civil war – just multiple entries. And England – the largest and only country without its own parliament and the biggest financial contributor via BBC television license fees would get the automatic pass to the final.
The benefits are that the English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish could all vote for each other and through diversity a cool song might emerge. If they all have different International football teams, why not different International song contest entrants?
2. Pick a decent entrant
This second option could be deployed alone or in combination with the first plan. The BBC’s desperately sad Song for Europe competition hasn’t produced a winner yet. So why not take someone who’s been honed by the really tough competition and proven hit generator – The X Factor. But don’t pick the winner, pick the runner up, and then have the competition be related to the song. On one night only viewers could watch the nearly-had-it perform three different songs by proven, recent UK song-crafters and the voting public would choose the song they liked best. This year we would have had the lovable bouncy Olly Murs, last year we would have had the charismatic boy band JLS, and the year before we would have had the extremely odd Rhydian – well, it’s not a perfect plan. But surely it would save the UK from complete Eurovision shame.