Thursday, 21 May 2015

"The UK doesn't win because everyone hates us"

I try not to bite when the same old rhetoric is brought out every year.

But I just can't resist it this year. I am biting. You make silly, uninformed, 'Terry Wogan' opinions about my overly camp cousin and I naturally HAVE to respond.

So here it is... my response to why "The UK doesn't win because everyone hates us"

First of all, let's get one thing clear: Europe have every right to hate us. In fact, as a Brit, I'm pretty cocky when it comes to music. I would think Europe is highly envious of us. I mean, Adele, One Direction, Sam Smith, Amy Winehouse, hell even Coldplay. These are all big British stars which have worldwide recognition and even win Grammys.

So let me ask you one simple question, "why would a credible British artist enter Eurovision?"
If you are struggling to come up with an answer then great. No credible artist really enters Eurovision from Britain, simply because "why should they?" If I'm off winning a Grammy, I wouldn't have any need to enter a competition that most of my country deem a joke, because an egotistical has-been stamped his feet when we finished very low down on the scoreboard for most of the 00s. That is Mr Wogan in case you were wondering. I won't lie to you, there have been some truly shocking entries to Eurovision, but the thing most forget is that it is a television show AND a music competition.

Second point: Europe 'needs' the competition. Now I do really sound like the cocky Brit. The entrant for Belgium this year? The winner of the Belgian voice. Popular guy.
The entrant for Sweden this year? A guy who won Melodifestivalen - in case you were wondering, MF is one of the most watched shows in Sweden, and neighbouring countries like Denmark and Norway love it.
Russia have entered Polina Gagarina. Popular girl, credible artist, actress, you name it.
Even Australia can be argued to be taking it seriously. They are sending Guy Sebastian, a current, household name in Oz.
The list could go on folks...
The point I'm trying to make is that so many European countries send popular artists from their countries, and we simply don't. This year we are sending a Mick Jagger impersonator in a duet with a girl who didn't get through the blind auditions of the Voice. Hardly the recipe for European success! And we can hardly say the competition is full of shit songs any more. Every year, we lose more and more 'jokey' songs, with Russian grannies and wailing Albanian radio presenters losing ground. This is reflected in the chart successes of last years entries, which includes a staggeringly high % of Eurovision songs entering our own British charts. And what happens when we do send credibility? Well Andrew Lloyd Webber took us to 5th in 2009, and Blue took us to 11th in 2011. They would have finished much higher if Lee Ryan wasn't such a nonce when they performed to the juries. Arguably, Molly deserved to do better last year. But after all, she did win an award for best 'unsigned' artist a few years before. Those competing for other countries are using Eurovision as their platform to perform, and without sounding like a dick, for many, this is the biggest platform they are ever going to perform on.

Third point: Well this isn't really a point, it's a response to the lousy rhetoric that all the songs are imitations of much better songs that Britain or America has produced. Are you trying to say that they are fraudulently copying previous chart hits? WELL FUCKING OBVIOUSLY THEY ARE NOT. If you believe that, then get your head out of your fucking ass and listen to the top 40 in Britain. Listen to the year-end charts. Listen to every single top 10 hit of the last 15 years. You might find a pattern. Pop music is generally quite generic and that is the reason WE like it. And then every few years, something new and fresh comes on to the scene that we all fall in love with. That is music taste changing. How on earth are Eurovision songs supposed to sound completely different? If they do, they aren't popular. Which means they won't do well. The artists tend to want to do well you know... I will accept that songs sound like other songs, but I won't accept that as a criticism of the competition. You are essentially criticising pop music, and that is a criticism I will take. But not just because its Eurovision.

Fourth point: "It's all political voting and only neighbours give each other points".
Well first of all, DURRRRRR. Of course neighbours give each other points. If I was currently abroad then I would certainly be voting for the UK, because after all I am British. No wonder the amount of Irish and British in Britain and Ireland accordingly feel the need to vote for their own country. We are just unfortunate in that we are an island. There is a reason the former Yugoslavs, the Baltic bloc, and so on vote for each other. Most of these countries have a significant population of neighbouring nationalities.
Second of all, are the British and Irish charts not VERY similar? If so, does that not mean we share a culture, share music taste? And if you are willing to accept that, then apply it to Scandinavia, the Baltics, the Yugoslavs, Greece & Cyprus, former Soviets, and so on, and so on, and so on. I'll let you work out the argument here by yourself (HINT: it might be why they vote for each other in a MUSIC competition).
Finally, yes, I won't disagree that some voting is political. But let's be honest, we are talking about countries voting for countries. That's not really how Eurovision works. It's individuals within a certain boundary voting for the representation of another boundary. If I'm picking up the phone to vote, I'm going to be voting on my favourite. I'm not going to be voting for Germany because I like Merkel's economic strategy. I'm not going to NOT vote for Belarus because they still have a dictatorship. I'm not going to vote for Israel just because I like Jewish people. And I'm not going to vote for Greece because I feel sorry for them. Political votes are made, but it's like benefit scrounging. It's a reality, but it's blown way out of proportion. Accepting the fact that the winners of Eurovision and the poor results of the UK are down to 'political voting' is like saying that Britain as a country is fucked because of immigrants and benefit scroungers. Well Done, you can read the Daily Mail, now scurry along...

There are 40 nations competing this year. If every country gets one win in rotation, then we will be waiting till 2037 to win again. Portugal have been entering since the 60s and have never finished higher than 6th. There are some nations who have never even qualified for the final, yet we get an automatic berth to compete in it. Countries like Liechtenstein and Kosovo are trying quite hard to find a way of competing, but are restricted because of funding and the UN not recognizing Kosovo as an independent country. And yet we're moaning that we shouldn't be in the competition because everyone hates us and we will never win. The opportunity to compete should be taken as a privilege, considering the competition was created in Western Europe to demonstrate liberty and celebrate culture. Let's make it clear, we will never win again unless we change our attitude to it.

"So why don't we just withdraw?"
Yeah right. The BBC are going to withdraw from Eurovision because we don't win. It costs around £350,000 to enter this year. And it DOMINATES Saturday TV ratings. £350,000 to dominate Saturday TV night? That is the easiest, cheapest decision the chiefs at the Beebs have to make. A single episode of the Voice or Doctor Who costs about 3x that amount. If the BBC gave it up, ITV would snap it up quicker than you could say Engelbert Humperdinck.

I don't care that the UK will never win again. Every year I get hopeful that we will send something fun. I eagerly anticipated the BBC Red Button release of our entry (yeah that's right, most entrants have big live TV shows in primetime slots and we tell the nation our song by the red button) and was a bit disappointed that we are sending something that might as well be called BRITAIN LOVES CHEESE. I still love the song, because it is fun, but come on, we will never win. And yet I am a huge fan of the contest. It doesn't waiver my interest because it's still the campest thing I get to embrace in my life. I love football, had a bitch when England were knocked out the WC, but grew some balls and got over it. I enjoyed the rest of the World Cup even without England in it. The same should apply to Eurovision. Just sit back, relax and enjoy it. Mock it. Laugh at the stupidness. Cringe at the hosts' humour. Vote for your favourite. Feel proud to be British. But don't moan about something once a year because you might not win. Put your toys back in the pram and grow up. We can't win everything, we are not living under the rule of Queen Victoria with an empire where the sun never sets, and Europe might just hate us...but only because we think so much of our bloody selves.

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