Credits: Dennis Stachel (EBU)
Pictures from the Grand Final of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden.

Loser Takes it All

Let’s be honest, despite a successful track record overall, recently the UK haven’t done all that well at Eurovision. In the last decade we’ve come dead last more times than we’ve made it to the Top 10. Only twice in this time have we scored more than 30 points, and it’s fair to say most years we only make it through the semis because we don’t have to compete in them. It’s not like we haven’t tried (OK some years we haven’t) but if we can’t win with some of our most successful artists (Blue, Bonnie Tyler), songwriters (Andrew Lloyd Webber) or even when we try to throw all the cheesy-europop we have at our disposal into one song (Scooch) we might have a problem.

Remember Scooch?
Credits: Indrek Galetin via Wikimedia Commons

Having looked at the competitions some other countries put their potential songs through, I think I can see why we fail – we just don’t care enough. Even when we did run televised selections the viewer numbers were fairly poor and most people would probably struggle to name a single, recent contestant from these shows. In comparison The X-Factor (essentially a very similar show) has dominated recent Saturday night TV and I bet a large amount of the British public can name one, if not several, of the acts it has churned out.

What’s missing from our Eurovision entries is the ability to reuse this popularity.  If you ignore the ridiculous legal limitations Simon Cowell et al. impose on contestants, it shouldn’t even be that difficult either – for Eurovision 2014 Belgium are sending someone from their version of The Voice, Hungary’s András Kállay-Saunders found fame on  Megasztár, and Israel have chosen a former Pop-Idol contestant.

Loser Takes it All – The road to win Eurovision?

I think we can use our love of talent shows to find success in Eurovision. We can bring back TV selection with a show called ‘Loser Takes it All’ and we can fill it with ex-BGT, X-Factor, and The Voice contestants. We could even go old school and add some people from Fame Academy, PopStars or How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Maybe we even steal some former Eurovision contestants from other countries (there’s actually no rule about the nationality of the performers). Imagine seeing  Wagner, The Russian Grannies, Rylan and The Cheeky Girls all vying for a chance to represent the UK at Eurovision 2015. Don’t lie, you would probably watch it. And there’s no reason people can’t compete in this new show more than once (assuming they keep losing of course) – Sanna Nielsen has tried to win Melodifestivalen and sing for Sweden at Eurovision SEVEN times. Maybe ‘Chico time’ could come to mean the time of year Chico Slimani unveils his newest attempt to win the competition…

In this new show the acts would compete over several weeks, either with the songs they intend to sing at the final or in a straight up singing contest with the winner singing a pre-decided song. They could be mentored by former Eurovision greats (Cliff, Bucks Fizz, Gina G….) or we could step away from mentoring all together. We could incorporate aspects of other great shows too – perhaps competitors work in teams with a set budget to source a new aspect of the performance each week (song writing, choreography, costume design etc.) with the weakest people being eliminated. Perhaps they have to work on creating a duet with someone who is famous in an entirely different field (sports, acting, TV presenting), singing a song from a different genre each week, two a week once the field thins out…

Whatever we do, we have to do something different. And we have to get people excited. How can we expect other people to vote for us if we don’t even care what song we send? And how can we know we’re sending our best if there was no real competition to get there in the first place? Alternatively, I suppose we could all just pick a new country to support…

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