It’s taken a long while to get to the next Big 5 country in the countdown, and it’s my home country, the United Kingdom. So I may be a little biased of course, but I don’t think this is an unfair placing. The UK was once a powerhouse of Eurovision but the last two decades have been pretty tough. Can young Michael Rice help the UK reach the long elusive left hand side of the board?
Michael was the favourite to win the slightly reformatted Eurovision: You Decide where 6 artists competed with 3 songs (2 artists each doing a version of one of the songs) and Michael’s version of “Bigger Than Us” won through. He’s a Hartlepool lad who won the BBC’s first All Together Now show, spending his winnings on setting up a waffle shop for his family in his home town (aww) and he really is a very sweet and likeable guy, carrying on the tradition of the UK sending good ambassadors.
The song itself is a soul pop ballad with a big gospel chorus sound in the latter half of the song. It’s not the most lyrically complex song you will hear nor the most original, but these songs, with a great voice, uplifting sound and those big “moments” are popular for a reason. The songwriting team behind this includes Jon Lundvik, Swedish Melfest contestant (and this year’s Swedish entry!) and also Laurell Barker who has also co-written the entries for Germany and Switzerland this year.
There is no doubt Michael has a great voice. He does tend to freestyle quite a bit, so no two performances are the same, but that’s not bad thing – he clearly loves singing and using that outstanding voice. There may have been some criticisms about his stage movements/presence but I think that’s part of his carefree, informal nature and more charming than offputting. He’ll be joined on stage by some veterans of Eurovision and Melfest (Estonia’s 2002 entry Sahlene among them) and I think the BBC will do a good job of the staging (and incidentally I love the official music video which you can see embedded on this page).
People always ask me – how will the UK do? And truth be told, it’s hard to say. I’d like to think that quality of Michael’s voice, the pedigree of the writers and the backing singers, hopefully the staging will all help pick up some jury points, and at same time, that mass appeal of the X Factor winning song sound will chime with some of the Saturday night TV watching demographic. Also we need to hope that the UK and Sweden end up in opposite halves of the grand final. Left hand side of board may be a bit much to hope for but a solid mid-table result would show some signs of progress.
Official music video:
National final performance:
My preview video:
United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1957
Appearances (excluding this year): 61
Best result: Winner 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981, 1997
Last year’s result: 24th