This year’s hopeful competing for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest has been announced.
After days of teasing the announcement, the BBC has revealed James Newman will be representing the UK at the ceremony, which will take place in Rotterdam in May.
The anthemic track the Brit Award-winner will be hoping to score with is ”My Last Breath”, which was premiered on BBC Radio 1 and 2 earlier today (27 February).
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Newman, whose single “Waiting All Night” won British Single of the Year at the 2014 Brits, is the brother of John Newman, whose track “Love Me Again” hit number one in 2013.
The musicial also has songwriting credits on tracks by Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran and Kesha, whose Eagles of Death Metal collaboration “Let ‘Em Talk” earned him a Grammy nomiantion in 2018.
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1/10 10. Better the Devil You Know – Sonia (Runner-up in Millstreet, 1993) 352.9pts
Sonia’s Eurovision journey took her to Millstreet, Ireland – and with its population of just 1,500, it holds the record for being the smallest host “city”. The town’s equestrian arena was transformed into a TV studio for the contest, meaning that many of the video postcards between performances have a very horsey vibe. Ms Evans chit-chats to a couple of foals in hers.
This year the UK won 3 points from Bosnia and Herzegovina. When that particular Balkan jury managed to phone through on a connection that sounded so fragile and fragmented, they received the biggest applause of the night, having delivered their votes in the midst of the Bosnian War. Eurovision at its most important.
2/10 9. Making Your Mind Up – Bucks Fizz (Winner in Dublin, 1981) 355.4pts
This tune is so synonymous with British Eurovision glory, what could possibly explain it ranking no higher than 9th?
Bucks Fizz are ingrained into the national psyche by the yearly repetition of that one skirt-whipping clip. But we’d imagine that Cheryl, Jay, Mike and Bobby would be the first to say their vocals weren’t quite as polished as we’ve come to expect from the legendary band.
However, that takes absolutely nothing away from this absolute classic. And if our rundown is inspiring you to do a bit of a Eurovision deep dive, then check out the poptastic “Christmas With The Fizz” (who cares that it’s May?) and Jay Aston’s “True Love” on Spotify.
3/10 8. Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit – Gina G (8th in Oslo, 1996) 360.1pts
Cher has an enjoyable habit of covering Eurovision artists: ABBA (she released an entire album last year), Bucks Fizz (“Heart of Stone”), Johnny Logan (One by One), and Gina G, literally, with a rejected, spangly dress.
That iconic outfit Gina wore in Oslo was actually custom made by Paco Rabanne for Cher, who was living in Wapping at the time. For whatever reason, the “Believe” hitmaker cast aside the glittering garment one afternoon at the Warner Bros offices, where Ms G later stumbled across it hanging up just days before the contest. She stuffed it into her handbag and the rest is history.
4/10 7. Puppet on a String – Sandie Shaw (Winner in Vienna, 1967) 366.5pts
Our first Eurovision victory. Sandie notoriously hated this song “from the very first oompah to the final bang on the big bass drum… I was instinctively repelled by its sexist drivel and cuckoo-clock tune” she recalls in her autobiography.
As part of a promo drive to reinvigorate Sandie’s public profile, “Puppet On A String” was written for the contest and not for its performer – thankfully, because the British public still loves it over half a century later, and it might not have ever existed.
5/10 6. Where Are You? – Imaani (Runner-up in Birmingham, 1998) 366.7pts
If there’s one UK entry that deserves more recognition than it gets, it’s this. Imaani was the UK’s fifteenth and most recent runner-up. She narrowly missed out on a hometurf victory as “Where Are You?” failed to win any points when the final jury dished out their scores.
It’s both frustrating and joyful that a recurring feature of Eurovision is that sometimes an incredible performance alone is not enough to win. 1998 was an important year for trans visibility across Europe, as Israeli superstar Dana International won the competition by a margin of 6 points with her track “Diva”. She’ll be performing at the finals this week, alongside Madonna – both dressed by Jean Paul Gaultier, who created Dana’s iconic feathery Birmingham victory outfit..
6/10 5. Boom Bang-a-Bang – Lulu (Winner in Madrid, 1969) 367.4pts
Lulu won the 14th contest in a four-way tie with France, Spain and the Netherlands – a situation which prompted Finland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden to withdraw from the following year’s contest out of protest. Such drama! Salvador Dalí designed the promotional materials for the contest as well as the stage, which explains the slightly weird metal sculpture that Lulu performed in front of.
7/10 4. Love Shine a Light – Katrina and the Waves (Winner in Dublin, 1997) 381.1pts
It’s been 22 long years since Katrina Leskanich brought home our last Eurovision victory, and we suspect it’ll be at least 23 years until the next.
“Love Shine A Light” was originally written as a track for the Samaritans organisation, but several friends and colleagues convinced Leskanich to enter it into that years’ Song For Europe where it romped to victory, 11,138 votes ahead of our other potential entry: “Yodel In The Canyon of Love” by Do-Re Me feat Kerri.
8/10 3. Storm – SuRie (24th in Lisbon, 2018) 381.4pts
Eurovision performances can stand out for all sorts of reasons. SuRie’s time on stage is memorable not because her microphone was snatched by a stage invader, but by the way she reacted to the situation. Few other artists on this list would have handled it so deftly.
As she picks the mic from off the floor, she kicks back into the bridge with the lyrics: “Hold your head up, don’t give up, no no” – at which point you can see her adrenaline weaponising those words to deliver a defiant, triumphant and unforgettable end to the song.
In 60+ years of Eurovision participation SuRie’s performance is unique in that it unquestionably transcends the song. An absolute ambassador for Britain’s participation in Eurovision, her next single “Only You and I” is out on 17 May.
9/10 2. Save Your Kisses for Me – Brotherhood of Man (Winner in The Hague, 1976) 381.9pts
With a last-second plot twist to rival those in Game of Thrones, “Save Your Kisses For Me” is the highest ranking winner on our chart.
1976 was the first time since the Sixties that our national final was open to multiple artists, rather than one act selected by the BBC presenting a number of tracks. The Brotherhood fought off stiff competition from Co-Co and Sweet Dreams (who would both go on to represent in ‘78 and ‘83 respectively), as well as turns from Hazel Dean and Tony Christie.
Check out Kenickie’s version, commissioned in the late Nineties by Channel 4 for a special Eurotrash does Eurovision compilation.
10/10 1. Never Give Up on You – Lucie Jones (15th in Kiev, 2017) 398.4pts
Uh oh. We fully realise that some fans will race to the bottom of this list, see “Lucie Jones” at number one, slam their Union Jack mug down, open a new tab and furiously tap out a tweet about the ludicrousness of it all.
In another poll, in another format, another song might come top – but judging across composition, lyrics, vocals, presentation and charisma, Lucie’s performance ranked highly in all 5 categories with all 20 jury members. A strong song, expertly delivered and beautifully staged.
“Never Give Up On You” serves as a reminder that when we try, we’re not a lost cause at Eurovision. One day in the not too distant future, a British artist will come along with a self-penned track, a story to tell, a vision of how to present it, and a personality that’ll shine through on Europe’s biggest stage. If they match Lucie’s technical ability, that’s when we’ll win Eurovision again.