So now that we’ve had a week to think about it, we have to ask ourselves the question: just how do we feel about the ‘legend’ that is Bonnie Tyler doing it for the UK in Malmo? Well it’s been a week of mixed feelings, if we’re being honest – ranging from disappointment at the BBC once again foisting a bygone name on us, through to annoyance when comparing it to what the rest of Europe are doing (i.e making an effort) before, ultimately, acceptance (well we can’t do anything about it so we might as well just live with it).
On the plus side the song, Believe In Me, isn’t actually nearly as bad as it could have been – although to be fair when the best thing you can find to say about a song is ‘pleasant’, ‘bland’, ‘inoffensive’ or, heaven forbid, ‘nice’, then it’s potentially a bad sign – after all, there are certainly many worse songs in this year’s line-up, but those which are do at least display the sort of bombastic, so-bad-it’s-actually-good charm which is more likely to get them noticed on the night. And doing ‘inoffensive’ has never exactly stood the United Kingdom in good stead, given that the road to Eurovision glory for le Royaume-Uni is littered with the remains of those acts who played it really, really safe. The Hump, for one. James Fox for another. And all those random pastel-suited mid-80s singers we’ve conveniently forgotten.
That aside there is always the possibility that Bonita’s reputation could score her a few points from assorted countries – she’s certainly well-known enough in France and Germany (where she has recently been on tour) and parts of Eastern Europe, while her name also tends to spark instant recognition also – most people who weren’t old enough to remember Total Eclipse Of The Heart before its Mastercard ad revival at least seem to have heard her name, even if it’s accompanied by much scratching of the head and looking a bit puzzled while they try to figure out if it’s someone their mum liked. And under the new system of selecting the running order we should be in for a decent spot in the line-up, after being on first in 2012 all but ended what slim chance we had of a decent result.
But that’s to bypass the main issue here, which is to ponder what the BBC is playing at, exactly, when it comes to selecting such artists from the past to compete in a multinational singing competition populated, for the most part, by CURRENT singers. Having failed so spectacularly with Engelbert in 2012, you’d have thought the Beeb would have learned from its mistakes, taken a look at what the rest of Europe was up to and followed suit. Not so. Granted, Bonnie is younger than The Hump, but only by 15 years, which hardly makes her some fresh young talent out to wow the continent with her singing prowess. And the decision to field someone who, while well-known, hasn’t actually graced the charts since 1995, is for want of a better word baffling.
It may of course turn out that the BBC plumped for Bonnie after being turned down by other artists – but if that happens to be the case then they only have themselves to blame, given the number of acts who have expressed an interest in Eurovision or offered their services in recent years. Hurts, a firm fan favourite and creators of the ace new track Miracle (now wouldn’t that have been a good entry for Malmo?) have offered and were rejected, while rumour has it Pixie Lott was all set to sign last year until the decision was vetoed at the last minute. OK so she may well have mewled like a frightened kitten on stage and scored even less points than The Hump, but at least it would have shown we were making an effort to send someone more relevant to current audiences. Others who have hinted they would be interested have included the Pet Shop Boys, Scissor Sisters (we have Ana Matronic commentating on the semi-finals this year but why isn’t she on stage for us instead??) and, on an almost annual basis, Mika. Meanwhile the great British public continues to show just how big a joke they regard the contest as by suggesting we should send Rylan Clark or Diva Fever. No we shouldn’t.
If on the other hand Bonnie was chosen over the plethora of available artists who have indicated that they would do Eurovision, then that’s a serious case of misjudgment – or failing to understand the evolution of the contest – on the part of the BBC. Not only is the whole business of sending a past-it artist or a sub-standard song and then blaming its failure on the fact that ‘Europe doesn’t like us’ getting very tiresome, but there is the danger that the more these established artists take on the Eurovision challenge and fail, the less chance the Beeb will have of persuading anybody newer or younger or fresher to step up to the plate. And if that happens then we’ll clearly be doomed to sending once-popular hitmakers from a long-gone era while Sweden continue to send acts like Loreen.
At the end of the day we have nothing personal against Ms Tyler. We know she’ll try and do the UK proud and you know that whatever happens we’ll be sat there on the night waving our Union Jacks and trying not to look too despondent. And if she does defy our expectations and end up on the left hand side of the scoreboard we will happily throw up our hands and admit we were wrong. But we’ll be honest, we’re not getting our hopes up.