Continuing our preview journey, we move on to the land of royals, queuing and the EU’s ex. It’s the United Kingdom!!!
The United Kingdom first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957. This year will be their sixtieth participation. Having not missed a contest since 1959, the United Kingdom holds the record for the longest uninterrupted participation in the contest. They have won five times. Their first victory came courtesy of Sandie Shaw with “Puppet on a String” in 1967, then Lulu with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in 1969 (tied), Brotherhood of Man with “Save Your Kisses for Me” in 1976, Bucks Fizz with “Making Your Mind Up” in 1981 and finally Katrina and the Waves with “Love, Shine a Light” in 1997. They also hold the record for most second places with 12 and most hostings of the contest with 8, as they stepped in when other countries could not host. In the 21st century, they have fared badly, only finishing in top 10 on two occasions. Jessica Garlick finished joint third in 2002 with “Come Back” and Jade Ewen finished fifth in 2009 with “It’s My Time”. Last year, Joe & Jake finished 24th in the final “You’re Not Alone”.
The British broadcaster, BBC, organised Eurovision: You Decide for the second year running to select their Eurovision entry. Six songs competed in the final, all sung by former X Factor participants. The winner was chosen by a jury (50%) and public voting (50%). Lucie Jones won the British ticket to Kyiv.
Lucie Jones was born on March 20th 1991 in Pentrych, just outside Cardiff. She auditioned for the sixth series of The X Factor and was controversially eliminated in week 5 of the live shows, in a showdown against Jedward, who would go on to represent Ireland in 2011 and 2012. After her appearance on The X Factor, she began a career in musical theatre. Her credits include playing Cosette in Les Misérables, Kelly in The Prodigals, Meatloaf in the We Will Rock You World Arena Tour, Victoria in American Psycho The Musical and Molly Jensen in Ghost, The Musical. She is currently starring as Maureen in the 20th anniversary UK tour of Rent and will reprise her role as Elle Woods in the upcoming UK and Ireland tour of Legally Blonde. She has also appeared on television in “Midsommer Murders”, “The Sarah Jane Adventures” and was a participant in S4C’s “cariad@iaith” (love4language), in which Welsh celebrities were challenged to learn Welsh in two months. Her entry for Kyiv “Never Give Up on You” was written and composed by Emmelie de Forest, Daniel Salcedo and Lawrie Martin. Emmelie de Forest won the Eurovision in 2013 for Denmark with “Only Teardrops”.
When I first heard this in the national selection, I thought it was good, not great. Ballad 101. But with the revamp, my expectations grew immensely. The new version has an atmospheric quality and Lucie sings with such emotion and releases her full vocal power towards the end of the song. It’s nice to see the UK actually putting in an effort over the last few years (let’s pretend 2015 didn’t happen though) and sending an entry full of class. I remember watching Lucie on the X Factor years ago and was devastated when she was sent home in favour of Jedward. I’m glad to see that she is finally getting recognition and the UK can be very proud of her, regardless of the final result.
What Could Have Been
A lot of British Eurofans were initially unhappy with Lucie winning, saying that they preferred Olivia Garcia with “Freedom Hearts” instead. I can see why. Strong vocals, a modern power ballad and some oversized flags at the end, this was the most Eurovision-friendly of the entries in the selection. I’m still a bit confused as to what exactly a “Freedom Heart” is though.
Good luck United Kingdom!
Do you have faith in Lucie or have you given up on her? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, BBC, YouTube)