Welcome to Xtra Insider, our new series which will give you an insight into how well each country was statistically likely to do this year, as well as what the team at ESCXTRA think of your favourite entries into (what would have been) this year’s contest! Today, we analyze and review the United Kingdom!
Yes, this year’s contest has been cancelled…but that doesn’t mean we can’t love the songs! In this series, we’ll review each and every entry that would have taken part in this year’s Eurovision. On top of this, we’re introducing a new analysis section in which we take a look into each country’s history and how likely they would have been to do well this year. Our honest and brutal reviews and analysis will keep you entertained throughout what would’ve been the Eurovision season! We will also each give points using the usual Eurovision points system (12, 10, then 8 down to 1), and create an ESCXTRA leaderboard of the entries!
Today, we’ll be giving analysis and reviews of the United Kingdom’s entry, My Last Breath by James Newman, from Costa, Isaac, Lisa, Luke, Rigmo and Vincent. Let’s get started!
The United Kingdom’s history at Eurovision
The United Kingdom has an illustrious history at Eurovision, but has struggled in the modern era. Participating in all but the first and third editions of the contest, the UK amassed five wins and fifteen runner up positions until 1999. The twenty first Century has, however, been a very different story for the nation whose tongue has become the lingua franca of the contest. The UK has only reached the top 10 twice in the last 21 attempts.Twentieth Century wins from Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Brotherhood of Man, Bucks Fizz and Katrina & The Waves have given way to four last place finishes, beginning with Jemini’s ‘nul points’ of 2003.
This year’s entry
James Newman’s ‘My last breath’ was announced in late February after an internal selection; the BBC charging BMG with the responsibility of providing artist and song for the 2020 contest. This was a new route for UK national selection, and followed four years with national finals. ‘My last breath’ was written by James himself in collaboration with Adam Argyle, Ed Drewett and Iain James.
How does this kind of song tend to do in the contest?
Whilst the song has had warm reception and appreciation from some British Eurovision fans, the critical reviews and the same British fans’ forecasts for the song at Rotterdam were at the lower end. These days, a mid-tempo, middle-of-the-road song may be a safe and harmless bet, with no chance of ridicule. But perhaps also little or no chance of reaching the top ten at a Eurovision Song Contest. One of the songwriting team, Iain James, was partly responsible for Ell and Nikki’s ‘Running Scared’, which claimed a surprise victory under circumstances rather different from those faced by contenders these days. The UK and Lithuania entries from 2019 are comparisons- and they didn’t capture the ears and eyes of the voting public and juries.
I’ve seen a lot of positivity around this entry and I’m happy to see that, because James has a great attitude from what I’ve seen. I’m personally sick of hearing the ‘baby steps’ argument when it comes to the BBC’s lacklustre approach to the contest. With a major label on board I expected something much more than this. Like every British entry for the past three years, this is utterly safe. I cannot fathom why you would select a song so similar to the entry that got you last place…but go figure.
I think this is a good step above British entries of the past few years. It’s not a song written by committee for the singer, that James wrote it himself shows in a positive way. At times it gets anthemic. There’s still some way to go, but (as a British person) this is the first British entry I’ve even liked in the last few years. So it’s a sharp improvement for the BBC.
It’s always a losing game when you start playing with fire, having a song title such as that! Much can be said for the BBC trying hard this year, getting the radio stations on board. Also choosing someone at the start of their career with a song that sounds commercial. ‘My Last [dramatic pause] Breath’ does get stuck in your head and is one of those I can listen to if it comes on. However I wouldn’t actively seek it out.
‘My Last Breath’, a song marvellously apt for a Europe currently ravaged by COVID-19. Unlike the virus however, this is perfectly pleasant, but it’s just too safe, it feels like a song you’d find in the UK’s standard “You Decide” NF…
Out with the old, in with the new(man)! I wish I could say this was a breath of fresh air, but it’s more like smelling the inside of a water bottle after it has been sitting out in the sun for too long. You are not repulsed, but you don’t really crave to breathe more of it in either.
I listened to this song live when doing my groceries at the mall, using my BBC iPlayer App to listen to something else than Radio 4. I was happy to switch back once the song was over. I wasn’t hooked, I couldn’t remember anything about the song (except maybe the “deep-sea diver” line), it’s generic, forgettable, and as often exactly what the BBC shouldn’t do.
Therefore, the United Kingdom scores 120 points in total!
The United Kingdom ties with Armenia with a score of 120. Following the standard Eurovision tiebreak, we look at which country received the most 12 points. This is Armenia, with two sets of 12 points whilst the UK only received one. Therefore, the United Kingdom reaches 9th place!
- Bulgaria – 163
- Russia – 156
- Israel – 148
- Serbia – 139
- Ukraine – 135
- Norway – 134
- Romania – 121
- Armenia – 120
- United Kingdom – 120
- Australia – 117
- Austria – 111
- Belgium – 109
- Czech Republic – 104
- Cyprus – 97
- San Marino – 97
- Albania – 97
- Moldova – 82
- Poland – 76
- Georgia – 72
- Slovenia – 53
Tomorrow, it will be the turn of the Netherlands to be reviewed. For now, take another listen to the United Kingdom’s entry below!
Do you agree with our reviews of the United Kingdom? What are your thoughts on My Last Breath?
Let us know in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA