Eurovision: You Decide 2016 – The Shortlist

Britain goes to the polls to determine its future relationship with Europe. Again. Only this time with less Boris Johnson and more Mel Giedroyc, which can only be a good thing.

It’s been a while since the British public have been trusted to select a song to send to Eurovision by ourselves. The last time we had any say in our entry at all was 2010, when we sent poor Josh Dubovie off to the dumper via Greater Oslo, and even then we were only picking the singer rather than the song. The last time we actually got to pick the song itself was in 2008, where everything went tits up after Terry Wogan used his Wicked Wango Card (Wicked Wogan Card?) to save Andy Abraham from elimination and the great British public decided to send him off to Helsinki with this absolute mess rather than Michelle Gayle with this masterpiece. So while the BBC’s internal selections have thrown up some questionable decisions in recent years (Electro Velvet seemed like lovely people, but Bird’s Eye Potato Waffles was always going to be a millstone around their necks, and the less said about the Engelbert Humperdinck incident the better), it’s not as if we’ve shown much more discretion when left to our own devices.

This year, however, the decision has been put back into our hands and the six shortlisted songs were revealed on Radio 2 this morning. None of them are going to set the world alight, and none of them sound like a winner, but all of them sound better than what we sent last year and at this point I’m willing to accept any step in the right direction, however tentative. Let’s not try to run before we’ve even managed to tie our own shoelaces, let alone walk. Maybe if we pick shrewdly this year and aim for at least making the left-hand side of the scoreboard, then we can look at raising the bar and sending an absolute banger next year. I don’t know about you, but that sounds good to me. (Sorry.)

So without further ado, here are this year’s contenders, in the order they were unveiled by Ken Bruce.

1. Joe & Jake – ‘You’re Not Alone’

Joe & Jake

Apparently these two hail from series four of The Voice UK, which I didn’t really watch in any great detail due to the presence of Rita Ora, so I can’t comment on whether they were any cop on there or not. This song actually got the reveal process off to a good start, because it’s pleasant and hummable in a mid-tempo, slightly forgettable sort of way. It is also, forgive me for saying this, quite homoerotic and every Eurovision needs a dash of same-sex UST somewhere in the running order, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t provide that this year. It’s perhaps a bit too light and inconsequential to be much of a contender, but with the right staging behind it we might get a few more points than usual.
Grade: B+
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: No
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Lithuania
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 18th

2. Bianca – ‘Shine A Little Light’

Bianca

One of the most frequently-used arguments relating to the United Kingdom’s entries for Eurovision is “but why can’t we send someone properly famous?” And while this year’s entries are all mostly unheard-of (even the most famous contender is someone you’ll only really know if you read every page of Smash Hits in the mid-1990s), this one at least has some recognisable names on the songwriting team, with Leona Lewis(!) and Richard Stannard (!!!!) showing up for duty. Despite the slightly uneasy mix of a reggae-lite backing with standard X Factor balladry over the top, this one is my pick of the bunch due to its anthemic chorus which is just begging for a blinding lightshow. One downside: my fiancé pointed out it does sound quite a bit like ‘Children Of The Universe’ and we all know how that one ended. But this was one of the only two songs I was still humming half an hour later.

Grade: A
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: No
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Russia
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 15th

3. Dulcima – ‘When You Go’

Dulcima

Oh dear, it was all going so well. It wouldn’t be a UK Eurovision selection process if there weren’t a boring busker in there somewhere, only this time we’ve got two of them. This one really is some sub-Mumford nonsense and her voice really is kind of shrill and unpleasant. I’ve not managed to listen to it all the way through more than once yet, sadly.

Grade: C-
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: Kind of
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Malta
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 25th

4. Matthew James – ‘A Better Man’

Matthew James

Known to those of us of a certain age and inclination as Matt Pateman from Bad Boys Inc (and honestly, of all the members of that group that I’d most like to see resurface, he’s third on my list at best), Matthew James is bringing us a track that sounds like the third single from a Will Young album campaign. You know, the one that misses the top 40 because everyone who cares has already bought the album at this point, but it still gets a small bit of traction because he made a funny video. If the field turns out to be ballad-heavy again this year, this one has no chance of standing out.

Grade: C-
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: In the sense that it would look like we’d given up, yes
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Us, about 10 years ago
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 26th

5. Darline – ‘Until Tomorrow’

Darline

Continuing the UK’s grand tradition of sending a style of song that was really popular two years ago and convincing ourselves that this means we’ve got our fingers on the Eurovision pulse, Darline’s entry is our bid for a bit of Common Linnets-style country glory. It’s pleasant, sure, and sung sweetly and with sincerity by Cára and Abby, but it does feel a bit featherlight. It’d be a pleasant distraction in an episode of Nashville, presumably sung by Maddie and Daphne as a warm-up number for one of Rayna’s gigs, but I don’t think lightning’s going to strike a second time with this one. A fine song, but not for Eurovision.

Grade: B
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: Kind of, in a “hey kids, what are the cool jams?” sort of way
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Denmark
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 20th

6. Karl William Lund – ‘Miracle’

Karl William Lund

The current favourite, I believe, and the second song this year to basically sound like a direct message to Will Young saying “we know you don’t want to do it, but we’ll get you for Eurovision in the end one way or another”. This one hangs around in the brain, which is good, but I kept expecting it to explode into a proper banger and it never did. With a bit of tempo behind it, this could have been an actual contender, but in its current form it’s not quite there yet. Also, as songs called ‘Miracle’ go, it’s not quite as good as Paula Seling & Ovi’s ‘Miracle’ from 2014, which in turn was not as good as Paula Seling & Ovi’s ‘Playing With Fire’ from 2010, and I don’t like this chain of diminishing returns. (Oh, and he was “discovered on Ryan Seacrest’s website”, apparently. MAKE OF THAT WHAT YOU WILL.)

Grade: B-
Would we embarrass ourselves by sending this?: No
Country most likely to send a song that sounds like this: Azerbaijan in their current underperforming state
Predicted placing at Eurovision if we send it: 19th

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