The last time the United Kingdom saw a success at the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1997, and it was clear last night was not going to change that. Despite getting onto the left side of the table early on in the results, the country slipped further and further down as countries opted to avoid the small island. The song was not entirely to blame, either.
Many people in the UK complain about the European singing competition to be all political. Unfortunately, the UK is not the best of friends with most other European countries, but does have a good number of expats living in the likes of Spain, Portugal and other parts of the European Union. There is even hope that one day the voting would no longer work on political grounds.
The political voting is part of the reason why big names no longer opt for singing. Over the years, the likes of Bucks Fizz and Cliff Richard have strutted their stuff on the stage, but the last big name act to take to the stage was Blue three years ago when the band attempted to make a comeback. The idea of knowing there is little chance of winning and the reputation being damaged is enough to stop big names from even attempting.
This year, 27-year-old Mollie Smitten-Downes had the privilege of singing the nation’s song, and was even in the best position of the running order—the last act to take to the stage. Her own song Children of the Universe impressed the home-crowd but failed to impress the viewers watching at home. The Eurovision Song Contest was definitely not a success for the United Kingdom with that in mind.
It may not have helped that it was not the best song of the night. There were a number of great performances, including the eventual winner, Conchita Wurst, who has hit headlines for her own reasons; primarily due to being known as The Bearded Lady. Wurst was one of the favorites going into the competition with her song Rise Like a Phoenix, which certainly had a James Bond opening style to it.
The lack of circus act in the Eurovision Song Contest may not have done Smitten-Downes any favors either. Every year there is a comedic entry that tends to do well, and one of this year’s was the Ukraine, which had a man in a giant hamster wheel parading around the stage. Opting for a comedic act does not always work though, as France found out by ending up in last place overall.
There is always another year, but there are doubts that the United Kingdom will ever see the success it did in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves. It may not all be the political voting, and just the fact that Britain does not follow the same music style as the rest of Europe. It does seem like the slow, powerful ballads are the best option, but the UK likes to add more to its songs. This year was definitely not a success for the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest, but at least it was not nil points!
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham