For just a moment, let’s step away from the harsh reality of the world and imagine one where artists would be honoured to sing for their country, just as professional sportsmen and women are proud to play Football at the World Cup, compete at the Olympics, or tee off in the cauldron of The Ryder Cup.
A world where any songwriter would be giddy with excitement to have their work represent their country on one of the biggest international platforms possible.
Given those conditions, how would you go about choosing a singer and a song for the Eurovision Song Contest? Is there a magic wand that covers all the elements needed for a successful tilt at the top spot come May 18th next year? I think there is. What we need is some sort of universal export to the continent.
You Know Her Name
It is very rare for a talent show winner who was found through open casting to do well at the Song Contest. There are exceptions but in general Eurovision winners are performers who have paid their dues, been working in the business for a several years, can sing live without having to worry about the high note, and are able to make the audience believe in their song. If it’s an emotional number, they will actually feel it on stage. Contrast the staging between Engelbert Humperdinck and Pastora Soler in Baku. One of them was going through the motions, and one of them was ripping open their soul for all to see. The final scoreboard reflected that.
You could take a chance that your talent show wannabe can cope with the pressure, can handle a 10,000-strong audience and can pick out the TV cameras. You could hope that they are naturals (or that the audience go for their ‘kooky’ style). Or you could get someone in that can fill the Albert Hall with confidence and charm.
And if that singer is known on the continent, is respected by the music press, and loved by everyone, so much the better.
But you need more than a good singer. You need a good song.
You Know The Bass Line
One of the keys to winning Eurovision is to promote the chosen song to people who can vote for it, and the best way to do that is to get that song into the charts in as many countries as possible. Lena’s winning song for Germany, ‘Satellite’, took that route and charted around the continent before it finished first in Oslo (and then hitting even more charts). That pre-Contest exposure paid off for Germany.
The best UK result in recent history came from Jade Ewen. ‘It’s My Time’ was promoted heavily by her record company, and it was the free cover-mounted CD on the Russian edition of ‘OK!’ magazine in the week before the contest in Moscow. The promotional efforts by Polydor alongside the BBC gave the UK a highly respectable fifth place.
Telling people about the song, letting them discover it, and allowing them to fall in love with it before the Saturday night Grand Final in May is vital.
So we need a big name with lots of built-in publicity and recognition who is able to sing live and absorb all the media pressure. That singer needs a song that’s going to be a huge hit across Europe: one that will be an ear-worm so everyone goes, ‘oh yes, I liked that!’ when it’s sung at Eurovision. And the song mustn’t break the September 1st 2012 deadline for any public performances.
That’s a mighty tough mission.
But there is one singer that could manage this. There is one song that fits the bill. And it’s about to be heard around the world from today.
Adkins… Adele Adkins
Step forward Adele, with the one song that can win the Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom, ‘Skyfall‘.
That’s the plan. Crazy as it may sound, let’s send the Bond theme to Malmö to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest.
It fulfills all the criteria for getting the promotion and the visibility right. Everyone will have heard the song. It’s big and brash, it’s a balls-out honest-to-God power-ballad. It’s going to chart around the world. And if anyone wants to complain about it being ‘commercial’ then I would point out that Skyfall will be long gone from the silver screen by the time Malmö comes around.
If the French can send Jessy Matador with their World Cup theme, then we can send Adele with the Bond theme.
And then there’s the final argument. It’s Adele.
Sending ‘Skyfall’ has one more benefit. It would give the BBC and Adele’s management a simple ‘out’ if it fails to get into a high position (say outside of the top five). Why did it not win? “Eurovision isn’t quite right for a Bond theme,” then point to the record sales, the chart positions, and Adele’s general level of success with the theme to show that Adele didn’t ‘fail’ at Eurovision, it just wasn’t to be.
If the BBC are looking at a potential strategy to win Eurovision, then the world’s favourite secret agent has just delivered it to them in an Aston Martin DB5.
But it’s time to return to the real world. It’s probably too much to think that the BBC can host Eurovision 2014 using 007. Even if this was a world where Adele would step up to sing for the United Kingdom, even if they were allowed to use the Bond theme, even if Daniel Craig stepped out of the shadows in the last twenty seconds on stage at Malmö…the United Kingdom would finish second to an easy-listening lounge singer from Switzerland.