The BBC have unveiled the songs that will compete to represent the UK at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The national final – Eurovision, You Decide – is on Friday evening.
All six performers have TV talent show form thanks to The X Factor, though most didn’t make it to a live show. The two that did were quickly axed, with Danyl Johnson being the supposed cream of the crop, coming sixth in 2009. So, in the order they were played – my thoughts.
Song 1 – Freedom Hearts
Co-written by someone that wrote Icebreaker for Norway last year (Gabriel Alares). You can almost hear the similarities in the way the song builds. It starts off quietly and builds to … something that is akin to a climax in the Emilie DeForest mode, of which more later. There is a “big note” where you can almost see the lighting cue in Kiev. It’s a decent song but it doesn’t have a spark for me. It also doesn’t have a constructed ending – it just stops.
Song 2 – I Wish I Loved You More
More Swedes wrote this one, three of the buggers but even by song two, you can almost hear the brief that has been given to the Songwriters at Camp BBC: “Write something safe”. Well this is safer than safe, and it has all the pre-requisites: good singer, good song, key change. I think I’ll be writing that a lot in these six songs.
Song 3 – Never Give Up On You
And here is the Emillie De Forest-penned bookies favourite, but if I am desperately honest it sounds like the other two songs with a slightly different lyric. I am convinced that it is ahead in the betting (If you want to check the current betting odds, look here.) And that will be because of who wrote it rather than it having any chance of winning the contest. It meanders gently in the same vein as the first two. Unlike the first two, it actually has a decent ending and it does something that a UK song hasn’t done for ages … it builds into a decent little contender. It will be there or thereabouts if it gets to Kiev.
Song 4 – Light Up The World
Finally the uptempo song, courtesy of Danyl. It’s hardly modern or ground-breaking in any way, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the one that the juries will not like but could be televoter-friendly (if any of them actually are). There is, again, the big “Eurovision” note and lighting cues already built into the song, which should make it come across. The “parp” trumpets are a nice touch, and it makes me feel slightly less depressed than the other three. It bounces and the three minutes is over too quickly for my liking, but it has less wrong with it, and more potential therefore, than the other three.
Song 5 – I Don’t Wanna Fight
So, a rock song about peace, or boogie with a drumbeat, if you will. This, to me, is the weakest of the five and possibly the six, and to be honest I can’t get through the three minutes without wanting to shout “Shut up” at the computer screen. Not my bag at all.
Song 6 – What Are We Made Of?
To me, if anything is going to challenge Danyl and Emillie-light in the charge to the top, it’s this one. Sung powerfully by Nate whose voice doesn’t match his babyface. I have to say, this is the kind of male ballad the UK has been crying out for years. If this is “dressed” and performed well, I can see this walking out of the national final and being a decent finisher.
So, overall …
There’s nothing actively awful in here, but the songs touted for a UK reversal of fortune all sound unfinished.
Lyrically they struggle and only one sounds vaguely like it might trouble the current music scene.
So will 2017 will be yet another making up the numbers year for the UK? – I’m not sure. There is plenty to be encouraged by, and not a lot to be embarrassed of, and we certainly won’t be sending the joke entry this year. My worry is are any of them strong enough to be anything other than jury bait, and get the public picking up the phone? Only a couple of them methinks.
Listen for yourself: