It is time for the UK to take Eurovision seriously | Matt Mohan-Hickson

I am not ashamed to admit that watching Eurovision is one of my favourite nights of the year.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 5:00 pm
James Newman of United Kingdom reacts to receiving zero points during the 65th Eurovision Song Contest grand final. Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

It is so baroque and over the top as well as a little bit cringeworthy but it is never anything less than engrossing and entertaining.

Even if the entertainment factor is making jokes at the expense of a truly awful act – hi weird German LazyTown knock-off song.

I hadn’t realised how much I had missed not getting a chance to watch it in 2020, but the same could be applied to so many things after all.

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It is one of the most memorable nights of the year – with lots of music to enjoy and later add to your playlists.

But I can’t help but feel like it is time for our country to actually take Eurovision seriously and send in an act with a real chance of winning.

Part of me wonders if the UK’s position as one of the ‘Big Five,’ and thus guaranteed a place in the final, means that we are complacent.

We don’t have to battle through the semi-finals; there is no jeopardy – beyond the embarrassment of coming last.

If you look at the bottom three for 2021, it was UK, Germany and Spain, all members of said Big Five.

I have long since given up any expectation that we will do anything but languish in the lower half of the table at Eurovision. But for a country with such a rich musical history, surely we can tap into that and send a song with a real chance of winning next year.

Obviously established acts are likely to be reluctant to take part to avoid the embarrassment of not winning – hello Flo Rida.

But there must be so many up and coming acts that would bite your hand off for the chance of the huge exposure that comes with having your performance beamed across all of Europe and even Australia.

Italy has sent a range of different songs in recent years, finishing second in 2019 with an R&B track and then winning with the band Maneskin this year.

Yet we just send fairly standard pop songs in recent years – and finished last two Eurovisions in a row.

Imagine if we embraced our rich music tradition and sent a grime song or an indie band. They can’t do worse than our recent entries.

I’m glad the winning song wasn’t in English

One part of Eurovision that I am not a huge fan of was the high number of songs that were in English.

I understand that the acts want to have a wider appeal and English has been the default language of the music industry for a long time.

But still seeing countries like Cyprus, Serbia or Moldova abandon their native tongues was a real shame.

We are in the age of K-pop and reggaeton, with chart topping non-English songs.

So I was real glad to see Italy, Switzerland and France finish in the top three when all of their acts sang in their own languages.

I might not speak Italian but I could still appreciate how much of a bop Zitti E Buoni was – especially that guitar riff.

The internet has opened up us all to the world – we can watch Scandi Noir with just a few clicks, find the Macedonian Oscar entry on a streaming service or have Puerto Rican music on loop.

Eurovision acts should embrace that.

US version of Eurovision sounds like a disaster

Much like anything that is popular on this side of the Atlantic, the American’s are rebooting Eurovision.

However instead of being a continent-wide competition featuring a range of different countries and cultures, it is just going to feature the US states battling head-to-head.

As my girlfriend joked: ‘So, it is just going to be 30 different songs about tractors.’

While I am a fan of country music (see previous columns), I couldn’t help but agree.

I am extremely sceptical about AmericaVision (if that is going to be the name) – it is going to be far too serious and miss the special ingredients.

It will be missing the weird geo-political tensions in the voting, the distinct cultural flavours that each European country brings and of course the campness.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the American Midwest, but there isn’t exactly a big cultural difference between Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas or Idaho.

Why can’t they just watch the actual Eurovision? This is like the time they did an American version of Inbetweeners and Skins.