A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The UK is just another country

Of course it was a disappointment last night to realise that Molly Smitten-Downes had failed to capture the european audiences and that the anticipated return to form for the UK ended in a bit of an anticlimax and a pale 17th place.

I had predicted her to go down really well and thought she would end in 3rd place.

It's a shame of course, it would have been nice to see her do well and to see the British audience get rewarded for getting their hopes up. But what has really happened in Eurovision for the last fifteen years or so is that the status of the UK has changed.

UK used to be Planet Pop in Europe, the unbeatable home of modern music, the place where showbiz comes from and that everyone else tries to copy without ever reaching up to the same level. Even if they didn't live up to their hip factor in Eurovision particularly often, it gave them a huge mental advantage as the audience automatically expected their entries to be the best ones.

All of that is gone now and the UK has shrunk to being any old country. No better and no worse than anyone else. A country that has to impress every year and that gets nothing for free.

One of the main arguments for UK success this year was that the BBC had made a bit of an effort when looking for their entry. That is what most broadcasters do every year. That is what you should do, what anyone should have the right to expect of you.

Israel has made efforts but failed to reach the final every year. Finland makes an effort every year with a national final but has only reached the top ten once in the last twenty-five years.

Just because you make an effort there is no guarantee it will translate into success. This is a competition. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose and feel it isn't fair but there is no such thing as fairness in the world.

There certainly wasn't back in 1971 when a song like "Jack In The Box" made it into 4th place in front of a bunch of much stronger entries.


  1. Love this. A lot of British people are already having strops and claiming it's all political once again. Totally agree RE importance of national finals. There was nothing to compare CotU to, nothing against which to measure it and BBC had no way of knowing if people would actually like the song. If they wanted Molly, they could have done what Spain and Belgium have done and allow viewers to choose from a few songs for the artist (and that gave us Quedate Conmigo and Love Kills, two FANTASTIC entries). I actually predicted the song would come top 5, even if I didn't care for it--I guess I bought into all the British hype, whoops.

    I think Sweden has the new Planet Pop reputation. Even if You didn't come top 5 last year, they've had a streak of aggressively strong entries and the fan-love is just growing.

    By the way, I'm thrilled Finland came as high as they did; I was worried the performance was too low-key and would end up bottom five. That said, the boys still deserved more! The song was actually my personal favorite, so anthemic and uplifting and ESC in Helsinki would have been fantastic but of course Austria was more than deserving :)

    The stereotype is that people in the UK think they're too cool for ESC and that's the problem. The UK needs to be more earnest and take the contest seriously. Sweden and Azerbaijan (usually!) do well because they have sincere efforts. This year's UK song just felt like a generic song designed to tick boxes. Blue and Jade seemed to put in more genuine effort and people responded to that. Conchita, Common Linnets, Sanna, and Aram were all very sincere and earnest and that was reflected in the performances. Molly's performance was just a bit confusing. It didn't feel focused. The UK needs to do what the Netherlands did and rethink their approach, then they'll start doing well. Because it's not all political. If the Austria and Netherlands can come top 2, of course the UK can.

  2. What about Emma Marone and Italy? You predicted a TOP 10 position.

    1. I did, but that was before I saw the live performance. Emma did her best but the cameras kept losing contact with her and as a viewers seeing and hearing it for the first time it probably felt like just another singer and just another song. Unfortunately, it is still a top ten song for me.

      But the Big 5 don't have a right to place well everytime they are good, they will flop undeservedly at times, just like the rest of us.

  3. How much do you think it affects the big five's results that they don't take part in the semifinals? Songs from the semifinals get double the rehearsals and double the coverage so they stand, in my opinion, better chance in the finals than the songs that you hear for the first time on saturday.

  4. Of course it is a disadvantage to get less rehearsal time. A successful entry from a semi final also has time to start rolling commercially, to get picked up by the radios, to get going on iTunes etc. That's also a disadvantage being straight in the final.

    However, the majority of the viewers on Saturday will hear most of the songs for the first time. Lena's victory in 2010 shows that the pre-qualified finalists are not a hopeless case.

    1. Lena's victory was the only one in a very long time.....

  5. I have the feeling that the Big 5 flop undeservedly rather often.

  6. Greetings from a Brit abroad! British fans did indeed seem very excited about it - one podcast in particular was discussing where in the UK next year's contest would be held - and I was therefore expecting a stellar performance on the night. The reality was that someone at the party I was at talked all the way through the song! It ties in with your comment about the director - I felt that the staging and camerawork were flat. Someone like Ruth was more of an actress than Molly. I know in the UK the expectation is that you have to win but I don't think 17th was too bad. There was also some integrity in the performance i.e. Molly as singer/songwriter. I quite liked this as it puts the pressure off getting points. I think it would be a good way forward for the BBC now that the UK is no longer 'Planet Pop'.

  7. The ESC song by Conchita Wurst was written by a German composer team from Hamburg. Austrian Television refusted to invite the composers to Copenhagen although they asked ORF fo invite them. As ESC is a competition for composers I think this behaviour is rather strange.
    The composer said in the interview he didn't hear anything from ORF so far.