The missing 'wow' factor is why UK bombed at Eurovision 2021

THE UK’s Eurovision journey reached a lowpoint this weekend, as James Newman’s Embers failed to set the world alight and was awarded a humiliating ‘nil point’.   

It’s a far cry from the euphoria of 1997, when Katrina and the Waves swept to victory with Love Shine A Light.

Since then, the UK has often struggled to score in double figures and this weekend’s humiliating defeat – the second zero score in the competition’s history – left Brits fuming about ‘political’ scoring and demanding we should pull out for good.

But Katrina Leskanich, lead singer of Katrina and the Waves, argues that a better song and performer are the key to a Eurovision revival.

“When Katrina and the Waves represented the UK in the Eurovision, 24 years ago, I felt my performance was strong and the audience reaction was positive but people around us just kept saying ‘the UK cannot win because of political voting’.

Yet we won by the biggest margin ever and I felt euphoric. So while people might say this weekend’s defeat is down to politics,  I don’t believe in political voting – apart from Greece and Cyprus, but everyone is aware of that one. 

It’s unreasonable to suggest so many countries would have an agenda against the UK when so many musical artists from here are beloved the world over and acknowledged for their brilliance.  We just have a blind spot with this competition.

Over the years, we have submitted quite a few inexperienced artists who just couldn’t deliver the magic on the night. And most of the songs have been mediocre.

Watching the show last night, I thought the competition was fierce and most of the artists delivered performances that showed them to be accomplished singers and live performers. 

I believe James Newman is considered a great songwriter but perhaps as a strong charismatic front man and confident singer he was misplaced.

What we need to to do is ask an act with supreme confidence, stage experience and a track record for hits who knows how to own the stage and make a dramatic impact, then match them with an amazing song.  

Make sure they look great and have sex appeal or a gimmick that everyone is talking about. And, of course, that they can sing in time and in tune.

I had already performed over 2,000 shows before I set foot on the Eurovision stage. This was invaluable experience and gave me the necessary confidence. 

We also had an anthemic, positive, feel good song with a great beat and a killer chorus.  On top of that we had that certain star quality, charisma and showbiz razzamatazz. 

The band had been together for 20 years and we’d made a lot of albums together and we had a great team of the very best in the business, from our backing singers to our record producer. 

Other countries are putting forward known performers as well as more adventurous acts, and great songs. 

You have to be obvious and larger than life, bold and confident, own the song and the stage.

I loved Shum by Go_A from the Ukraine. I thought that both the song and the performance were excellent.  

Go_A had strong visuals and a confident singer who was both dynamic and energetic. It was a very upbeat song that resonated with the audience. 

I was a bit surprised Italy won. Rock songs don’t usually win Eurovision with the exception of Lordi from Finland who sang Hard Rock Hallelujah, in 2006.

But Maneskin were sexy, confident, energetic and fun and they looked great and it seemed to be what everyone was looking for from the night.

Known acts in the UK are reluctant to come on board for fear of failing or being considered ‘cheesy’.

You need a lot of balls to face potential failure on a grand stage but if the right ingredients are present it does work and it’s a great platform to get your music out there on a global scale.

But the song is also crucial. 

Even if we were represented by Adele who is known and loved and has a multitude of fans from other countries, they would only vote for her IF HER SONG WAS GOOD ENOUGH!!!!!   And by that, I mean, you can’t just send Adele with an album track.

I don’t believe the UK’s ‘nil points’ is part of a Brexit backlash. If that is so then what is the excuse for all the poor scores for the UK pre-Brexit?

The new points system, which shares votes between the country’s panel and the public, is brutal but fair.

If we keep submitting acts that lack the ‘wow factor’ we have no chance of winning.”

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