From the dizzy heights of Bucks Fizz and Katrina to the dismal low that was national disaster Jemini, the UK has had a tumultuous relationship with the Eurovision Song Contest. But what are our chances of winning this year? Drag queen extraordinaire Lola Lasagne gives her verdict.
Saturday 3 May 1997. I’m on stage in Brighton. A queen rushes in and screams, “We’ve only gone and fucking won Eurovision!” Twenty years ago. And then it all went wrong.
Hard to believe that in a contest we dominated for 40 years, with five wins and 14 runner up places, that we should steadily become known as the ‘joke nation’, there to make up the numbers despite being one of the revered ‘top five’ (otherwise known as the idiots with the money with which the contest needs to stage it).
In the 19 years since Katrina and her Waves shone a light to victory, we’ve only been in the top 10 three times.
In 1998 we were second and robbed, quite frankly, with the stonking Where Are You by Imaani.
Then in 2002 we came third with the underrated Come Back by Jessica Garlick. And a splendid fifth came with It’s My Time by Jade Ewen. And despite being composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the legendary Diane Warren, it clearly wasn’t for Ms Ewen, as she then joined the Sugababes. Thankfully she’s doing a proper job in the West End now, with Aladdin.
You can’t say that we don’t try. It’s the British way. Like any UK tennis player before Andy Murray came along and did it properly. But we still don’t get it right. The public were asked to choose our entry. They chose Javine, Scooch and Andy Abraham. So the BBC had a go and chose Englebert Humperdinck, Bonnie Tyler and Electro Velvet. Of course, when we get to the Final we face the rest of Europe. Poor Englebert, despite being the oldest ever contestant, was up against the dancing grannies from Russia.
In 2006, Daz Sampson (yeah, I don’t remember him either) lost out to a Finnish heavy metal band. In 2011, the international pop band Blue finished behind Jedward. And in 2003 we sent Jemini and Europe kept all the points for themselves. Early indications of what Brexit may hold for us.
Speaking of which, will our country’s decision to leave the EU fare us any better this year? It’s been said that the contest has become political over the years and neighbouring countries voting has certainly suggested that, with everyone hating us. But when you send Josh Dubovie with That Sounds Good To Me the hate is justified. Probably because we had no sense of irony in 2010.
So, this year’s event. What’s going to happen? Italy is a hot favourite. There’s a man in a suit, four backing singers who look like early victims in a slasher movie, and a dancing gorilla. OK…
Sweden have gone for five male models on treadmills. Bulgaria’s song is called Beautiful Mess. And it is.
Ireland has a young man Dying To Try but after a listen I was trying to die.
France’s presidential election was more successful then their song choice.
And Romania has the musical equivalent of Katie Hopkins – irritating, repetitive, shit.
So that leaves the UK’s entry with Lucie Jones and Never Give Up On You. Now don’t tell everyone, but I think this has a bloody good chance of doing well. I like a ballad, as does Europe. But this is Eurovision and it all depends on the live show, and how drunk Europe is when it votes. So who bloody knows! What I do know though is that you’ll have the best time with me and Titti La Camp watching the show this Saturday at the Two Brewers, so see you there!