Quick: hum two bars from Englebert’s song at Eurovision. Ok, one bar? One note? Englebert! The guy who performed first during the final. No. He didn’t sing “Forgettable.” He sang “Love Will Set You Free.”

Despite what plenty of Brits will tell you, the U.K. did not lose because of bloc voting. It did not lose because everyone hates Britons (they don’t). It did not lose because Engelbert went first (even if he had sung last the song would have been forgotten by the time voting opened). Britain lost because Engelbert’s song was uninspired and his staging mediocre. It was the perfect performance for a nightclub: pleasant enough, but not sufficiently interesting to grab your attention.

Britain, which finished 25th, ahead of only Norway, did as well as it did because Tooji’s entry was equally forgettable and Ireland threw the U.K. a bunch of points, either because of their cultural affinity, or because young viewers had fallen asleep and everyone over 70 voted for the one name they recognized.

WATCH:

But the blame does not rest with the Hump himself. He was set up to fail. The blame rests with the BBC, which fields Britain’s contestant every year. With the glaring exception of Jade Ewen, who viewers chose in a national selection and who went on to place fifth in 2009, the bigwigs in London seem determined to lose—and to lose spectacularly. It’s either has-beens or never-weres, with both of them singing generic, uninspired pop. (Hello, Josh Dubovie!) I doubt that even the Beatles in their prime could have won with the turkeys the U.K.’s performers have been saddled with.

Why lousy songs and sub-par performers? I think it’s because Britain is scared to truly compete. What if Britain gets serious about Eurovision, puts everything they have into finding the best act in the country, and they still finish in the cellar? Then no matter how much you can point to British dominance of commercial pop, the U.K. will be held up to be a loser musically. Better to put up acts you know will lose so you can use that as a defense.

Until Britain is willing to put their ass on the line and create a system like Sweden’s to produce an entry that is compelling, they will remain a joke. The question will remain one of whether they will be last or just a couple of spots above last. Meanwhile all the articles about “Eurovision is a joke, who cares”, followed by “how dare they not rank us first, don’t they know we dominate pop”, just make Britain look pathetic. The U.K. starts to look like America does when it loses something it expected to win – and that’s not a pretty sight.

Oh, and Simon Cowell is not your savior – he’ll deliver an act that can sell records, but not win Eurovision. Those are two very different things.

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Anthony
Anthony
8 years ago

I think the main reason Engelbert Humperdinck only managed 25th is mainly the way the entry is promoted. Winner Loreen has spent MONTHS promoting “Euphoria” and was already a number 1 hit across several countries in Europe before the Eurovision Song Contest has even started. Whereas Engelbert’s entry “Love Will Set You Free” has struggled to even make it anywhere near the U.K. top 40 chart. The only proper promotion he’s done is a few British TV appearances performing the song. This is simply unacceptable and the U.K. have already shot themselves in the foot for doing this. It’s the… Read more »

MF
MF
8 years ago

I am one of those who like Engelbert Humperdinck, but I did not think the song was good enough and also his voice is not what was when he was in his 30s, 40s and even 50s. I’m tempted to watch on youtube his 30-50s time – yes, I know it sounds mean, but he was at his best during this time: both voice and looks! I think he still looks great for his age (he even lost quite a number of pounds for Eurovision) and he’s a great entertainer. He deserved better than 25th place, but he still has… Read more »

Yas
Yas
8 years ago

I’m from the UK, and I liked the song. It was nice. That was it though. I did expect it to do better. But that’s coming from a person whose favourite was Trackshittaz. The Eurovision Song Contest isn’t taken seriously in the UK. They think it’s just cheesy Euro-trash. They don’t watch it. Most people don’t actually know that it’s on unless someone who’s into it reminds them. And even then they won’t watch it because they believe that it’s cheesy Euro-trash. So when the UK does bad, most people don’t know why and they assume that it’s block voting… Read more »

Anthony
Anthony
8 years ago

@Emma. The BBC were on the right track when they chose Blue last year. Unfortunately the performance was a disaster. Blue ended up overdoing the actual song itself by making it slightly different to the studio version, which might explain why they flopped with the juries. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! @David. The UK’s attitude towards the Eurovision Song Contest, in terms of football since Brits love to talk about it so much, will be the equivalent of seeing England crash out of Euro 2012 and start blaming that everyone else cheated. The United Kingdom really do behave… Read more »

Zolan
Zolan
8 years ago

@David. You have said essentially what I have thought, but not felt in a position to say before as an outsider: The UK is gutless. They are afraid to enter anything they really believe in, for the reasons you give and more. There is always a backdoor so they can distance themselves, combined, in many cases, with an insincere claim to worthiness intended for straw-man justification. @Emma. Yes, Blue might have been an exception. Shame they didn’t come through. I’m fully on board with Ewan Spence (escinsight.com) on this one. I want to see entries that represent the living UK… Read more »

Emma
Emma
8 years ago

With all fairness, sending Blue last year was not half-assed and uninspired and they had a good, anthemic song–and it showed in the televoting results (5th, just behind heavy hitters Az, Sve, Uk, and Grc), it was a faulty performance in front of the juries that did them in. Blue wasn’t sent in to lose–BBC was trying hard there and they got close to top 10. Now if they can just find a balance between *will generate televotes* and *will not underperform and face wrath of juries*… Agree that Sweden’s and to a lesser extent, Norway’s and Denmark’s NFs are… Read more »

Anthony Granger
Anthony Granger
8 years ago

The United Kingdom is not just “England”, unless you want to offend Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people I would recommened your reword the article.