Never Give Up On You by Lucie Jones
The coincidence of being British, and of alphabetical order, means that I always get to finish my Countdown with my home entry. It feels like I’m building up to the annual walk of shame. Despite an illustrious history our 14 worst results in the Contest have all come in this millennium, and since notching up our fifth victory a full 20 years ago, the UK has only graced the top 10 three times. I don’t chalk this solely down to a drop in quality – our entries even before this have largely been rather mediocre, and it’s no coincidence that our results have dropped off since we lost the advantage of singing in English over other national languages, a factor those who claim we’re being stitched up rarely consider. Though the quality has, undeniably, been quite naff.
Credit to the BBC that the wind of change is a-blowing, though it’s still more of a waft than a Carola Force 10 wind machine. There was a noticeably better quality in this year’s six national finalists. All came from the internal routes the BBC had put in place rather than through the open-call for submissions (and as one of the selected ‘sifters’ from OGAE UK I can assure you there was absolutely nothing better in the open-call batch I had to assess – a mindless chore of a process rather than any ‘insider perk’). We even got a higher-profile national final on BBC2 from the Hammersmith Apollo, though technical faults and appalling sound in the venue marred many of the performances. The problem is, that whist none of the songs were truly terrible, not one of them feels like it had the crucial ingredients to make international viewers go “now THAT’S the one I’m going to call up to vote for”. Last year Joe & Jake’s result exposed the gulf between a jury’s considered opinions and the instantaneous appeal needed for televotes and, unsurprisingly, on the latter the song was found wanting. It would have ranked as few viewers’ least favourite, but without appealing enough to be amongst their highest-ranked it misses points almost completely as it falls just outside each country’s top 10.
In Lucie Jones, we have our best hope of those that were on offer. She’s a terrific singer with a likeable personality. The song, though, once again, is found lacking. Personally, I like it, though I think that’s more to do with her than the song itself. With a simple, unfussy performance and by nailing her vocal and delivery it has the potential to bring our best result since Blue’s 11th place with a mid-teens finish, but she’s going to need to bring all her on-stage magic to lift it into the points zone for the voters at home. Oh, I hope we start to get it right soon…
My marks – 7 points