2020 is an odd year, and Eurovision certainly fell foul of the curse when this years’ contest was cancelled. The first time that the contest had not taken place since its debut in 1956. Yet that hasn’t stopped Eurovision’s flame burning in the UK charts. Here we take a look at that impact these past weeks and what that means for the BBC and its Eurovision future.
Not only did The Eurovision Movie – “The Story of Fire Saga” drop on Netflix, but one of its songs “Húsavík” by Will Ferrell and Molly “My Marienne” Sandén, charted in the Top 100 in the UK charts. In its second week, climbing to 59. Moreover, the accompanying soundtrack has spent a second week in the compilations chart. Only dropping two positions to number 3.
Not only did “Húsavík” chart, but also one entry from the class of 2020, and in the process became a viral sensation on popular video sharing social media platform TikTok. That was Iceland’s entry “Think About Things” by Daði Freyr.
However it bettered “Húsavík” and by some margin. It entered the UK top 40, peaking at 34 and stayed in the chart for an impressive 6 weeks. Before sadly dropping out of the Top 40 at the time of writing. Therefore becoming the longest chart run for a Eurovision entry in the UK since “Euphoria.”
B list at capit… BBC!
One factor could have helped these two songs gain continued traction and that is radio play. Even the two biggest radio stations in the UK playlisted “Húsavík” and “Think About Things”. These being BBC Radio 1, who featured “Think About Things” on their C-List. Meanwhile BBC Radio 2, added both “Husavik” and “Think About Things” to their B-List.
Radio 2 shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s seen as the symbolic home of Eurovision on the Radio. The station has helped host national finals, reveal national final songs, reveal Eurovision entries and with Ken Bruce in the commentary chair, has broadcasted Eurovision on the radio since the UK has taken part. As well as this they launched a pop up radio station BBC Radio 2: Eurovision in 2014. This was hosted by Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters.
BBC radio and Eurovision
Yet what is surprising is BBC Radio 1’s newfound love for Eurovision. Yes, Scott Mills who commentates for the UK at the Semi Final stages is a host. But with its key focus being the 16-34 demographic, the network has largely vetoed any mention of Eurovision since the UK’s heyday in the 90s when Precious’ “Say It Again” was the last Eurovision song to be playlisted by Radio 1 in 1999. Some 21 years ago. The network didn’t even playlist Loreen’s “Euphoria”, and that reached a high of 3 in the UK chart. One of the biggest Eurovision hits in history.
But in 2020 a sea of change was afoot when the BBC announced that James Newman’s “My Last Breath” would not only premier on Radio 2, but also Radio 1. A moment some Eurovision fans thought would never happen.
The issue is that even though the Icelandic entry has seen continued play after the contest. The British entry sadly has not. One thing to consider is that Radio 1 and Radio 2 despite being under the BBC radio conglomerate, it itself micromanaged by various producers that all work totally independent to eachother, so Scott Mills’ show and Ken Bruce’s show have their own production making their own decisions on what plays and when. Also BBC One the main BBC network also has it’s own controller with her own ideas. She in the end must have decided that Eurovision deserved a whole night dedicated to it when it was supposed to have happened this year with special shows. Maybe this needs some joined up thinking and dots need connecting to draw a larger, unified message that Eurovision is deserving of a place at the heart of BBC entertainment.
So why is that? Does the BBC genuinely love the Icelandic song and the song featured in a Netflix film set in Iceland? If that’s the case, why not spread the Eurovision love more broadly, rather than put all the eggs in one basket? Why hasn’t the UK entry seen more play and love? Or is this all for marketing and chasing trends? Will this supposed new found love produce a top 10 result for the UK? Only time will tell.