The United Kingdom’s entry for The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest was revealed at the weekend, to reactions of “Ooh!”, “Eh?” and “Oh boy!” But what journey did the avid British entry spotter have to travel this year in order to have gotten us to this place this year? Roy Delaney looks back at a year of rumours, guessworks, missed opportunities, and an entry that was hiding in plain sight.
To be honest, the UK rumour mill has been a lot quieter in 2015 than last season. That may be because there were less people chucking their hat into their ring, or just because folk had lost a little bit of interest since last year.
The portents were still good. BBC’s Eurovision main man Guy Freeman was making encouraging sounds about opening the competition up, and we were hoping that he was going to plough the same BBC Introducing furrow again. But then he did something quite unexpected – he announced that there was going to be an initial open application process, just to see if anything interesting cropped up.
Well we really weren’t expecting that!
The Mimics Of Last Year’s Winner
The early adopters who outed their songs were kind of what you might have expected. Drag stars La Voix (she from Britain’s Got Talent) and Asifa Lahore through their delightfully feathered hats into the ring, while last year’s rocking early mover UKR mutated themselves into the power pop duo Sleaze & Cheese with the rousing ‘For A Nation’s Pride’. When the deadline was done, all three acts posted that they hadn’t been successful this time, with Sleaze & Cheese’s Matt Fielder reporting that he was told that the BBC didn’t think that “the boy/girl thing would work this year.”
Coaching, Listening, And Songs Passing In The Night
Around the same time, November 25th to be precise, ESC Insight were sent a demo by veteran songwriter David Mindel ‘for our consideration’. He was producing a swinging little number that while quaint and foot tapping, didn’t feel like the kind of thing the BBC would plump for in a million years.
So we went back to ploughing our way through the thousands of potential Swiss entrants and thought nothing more of it.
Not much then happened on the UK front for another few months. We didn’t get so much as an unsolicited denial from Geri Halliwell until part way through February when it all kicked off again. All of a sudden the name She Makes War began to pop up in dispatches. She’s from round my way in Bristol, and round these parts we know her as Laura Kidd. She’d have been a great, but unlikely selection, but it was all in keeping with the apparent connection with the BBC Introducing strand.
Several days later poor Laura came back off holiday only to find her mail boxes jammed with messages about Eurovision with absolutely no idea where these rumours cropped up from.
Shame, cos she’d have been ace.
So we were back to vapours and extrapolations for a couple of weeks. Someone tweeted that they noticed that a picture of ‘The Voice’ old boy Tyler James had briefly popped up on the BBC’s Eurovision site, but no one else had seen it, so we remained unswayed.
The unwashed X Factorist Luke Friend briefly entered the fray. Somebody noticed that he had a new single out, it was about three minutes long, and that the video and Eurovision-logo shaped hearts festooned all over it. “Surely this must mean something?” a number of people cried.
Thankfully it didn’t.
At this point, around a week and a half ago, things really began to hot up. The BBC announced that their song would be revealed on the Red Button on March 7th, and the rumour mill hit its full flow. Guy Freeman announced in an interview that it would be a completely new kind of song, and one that had an immediate impact.
All of a sudden, as if from nowhere, the incredible hip world champion beatboxer Grace Savage tweeted the cryptic words “Eurovision here I come”. Did this mean she was going to be our entry? Or backing someone somewhere else? Or had she just been lucky enough to have got tickets to the Grand Final?
Eurovision fandom abhors a vacuum, so the next 24 hours were filled with excitement, dismay and confusion. She would be one heck of a brave choice, and most definitely one that would be both different and impactful compared to anything we’ve gone for in the last 20 years.
(Savage currently is looking to crowd fund her next EP – go on, you know you want to…)
Round Up The Usual Suspects
But in the midst of that came two slightly more believable, if not slightly disappointing rumours.
First dear old Ken Bruce started hinting that another old X Factor nearly-was Rebecca Ferguson was due to be doing something very interesting over the next couple of months. Then The Radio Times put out a feature suggesting that it would be right up Alexandra Burke’s street, and that she had a clear diary between theatre engagements at exactly the right time. Was the BBC offering us crumbs of clues, or was it merely deliberate disinformation? Ms Burke’s people issued a denial almost before the virtual ink was dry, but that still couldn’t deter large swathes of fandom from thinking that it was a done deal.
March 7th duly arrived and we were woken with one heck of a new rumour. The same source that apparently leaked poor Molly’s selection last year were said to have pointed in the direction of crunchy Northern Irish twee pop masters The Wonder Villains. This would have been an excellent appointment in many ways. Finally we’d have offered up an act playing the kind of whimsical guitar-based pop that we’re acclaimed for across the planet, plus the Irish connections would surely have helped us bag at least a few more points on the scoreboard come late May.
The band themselves stayed incredibly schtumm on the matter, despite the sudden influx of questions to their social media outlets. Indeed they were so stoic that many saw this as tantamount to an admission of participation, and it was with this in mind that we dropped everything at half-nine on Saturday night to tune in to the big announcement.
…That Sounds Familiar To Me…
Imagine our surprise when, after Scott Mills made his big announcement, that swing-fuelled demo we got sent back in November started playing on our telly-box!
The male singer may have been different, the introduction had been compressed to get to the action far faster, the ‘big band’ sound had been given more emphasis, but to all intents and purposes it was exactly the same song. How bloody typical! After getting ourselves embroiled in all those months of conjecture and rumour sniffing, we’d been sat on the damn thing for something like fourteen weeks without giving it barely as much as a second thought.
Next year’s already looking like it’s going to be a whole lot more confusing and confounding than ever before. I wonder how long until Sophie Ellis-Bextor is mentioned?