Another Thursday, another XTRA Throwback Thursday. Over the coming weeks and months, we will take you on a journey through Europe and beyond, a journey through the history of the contest. For this week’s theme I will be featuring my home country United Kingdom.
Today is a sombre moment for the UK (and in many ways the world) as today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s with this in mind that I also think back twenty years to 1997 and United Kingdom’s last Eurovision win.
Royaume-Uni, douze points
While United Kingdom at Eurovision in the last ten years or so has not had the best reputation, it has enjoyed plenty of success in the past, with twenty top two placings and five wins. Now I would admit that despite being my home country I don’t have an automatic love for the songs that we have brought to Eurovision. The winning songs of old are of course memorable moments in Eurovision’s history but to say I really like these songs as music would be going too far. Still the best of the bunch for me for sure is ‘Love Shine a Light’ by Katrina & the Waves. This was further justified for me when I had the pleasure of seeing it performed in person at BBC’s ‘You Decide’ in 2016.
The ‘Love Love Peace Peace’ nature of the song suits well to Eurovision and that gospel-like clap along chant of the chorus plays well to a live audience. What I really appreciate with the Eurovision performance is the simple quality to the song and performance. Previously the UK had their gimmicks and today we are used to the grand staging. But here we have a great singer with simply the band on stage with her.
The British music industry has a fantastic worldwide reputation and I’m always looking for the UK to present something at Eurovision that shares the same quality of what is presented on any other radio & TV show. The UK are often guilty of trying to find ‘a song for Eurovision’ rather than ‘the best song to represent the UK’. I hope one day we find again that winning song that can be a hit both at home and abroad.
What the others had to say….
Really good choice by Tom! The UK has sent some questionable entries in recent years but that doesn’t take away from their evergreen entries; Love Shine a Light is definitely one of them. I remember hearing this way before I even knew what Eurovision was actually, so I’d guess it’s one of the more successful winners in terms of mainstream exposure – and deservedly so. The anthemic chorus makes me want to sing along everytime I hear it, and it hasn’t aged as badly as other songs from this era (even though I wouldn’t expect to hear a song like it next year in Lisbon). It’s a personal favorite of mine and one of – if not THE – highlights of UK’s Eurovision history for me.
This may sound like an exaggeration to many but I truly believe this as being the definition of a ‘perfect Eurovision entry’. The structure of the song is impeccable, with a verse that ties you in almost instantly and prepares you for it’s big anthemic chorus – perfect in length, lasting long enough to stick firmly in your head. Katrina gave a compelling performance in Dublin, showing Europe that the UK meant business but at the same time, showing her professionalism by knowing her stage limit and not going overboard (like many other countries that year!). A highlight in the UK’s Eurovision history and dare I say it, another one hasn’t come along to proceed it since.
I think the UK has brought a lot of quality to the contest (even is someone looking at the last few years (generally) may think I’m insane. I am a huge fan of plenty of their entries and having to single one out is a hard job but, with Children Of The Universe just missing out, I’d have to say that my top UK entry is the glorious Nicki French with Don’t Play That Song Again. If nothing else, I doubt there is any former contestant that still loves the contest as much as Nicki does. But the song has a je ne sais quoi that gets to me every time.
What do you think of the United Kingdom at Eurovision? What is your favourite entry? Let us know!
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