At the end of national selection season each spring, many fans write off certain acts as ‘dead on arrival’. But this year — as in years past — a number of these acts put their months of rehearsals ahead of Eurovision to good use, steering their sinking ships away from danger. Whether the changes come in the form of major revamps or minor fixes to styling and song, certain stars took many of us by surprise inside Kiev’s International Exhibition Centre.

Belgium’s Blanche overcame her nerves to deliver a performance tinged with vulnerability that propelled her to the top 4. After a lukewarm response to her song, Georgia’s Tamara Gachechiladze brought the fire (literally) to heat up her stage show and almost qualify for the final. And the Czech Republic’s Martina Bárta managed to lift “My Turn” from a dated snoozefest to an inspirational jazz ballad.

But one lady managed to maintain a constant upward trajectory from song release to grand final performance, and oversaw one of the most improved acts in recent memory. After receiving 5,532 votes, we are pleased to announce that the United Kingdom’s Lucie Jones has won the Vision Music Award 2017 for Most Improved.

Things didn’t look great after the finalists for Eurovision: You Decide were revealed in January. With the studio version often described as boring and monotonous, many fans looked towards Lucie’s competitors to predict who would be flying the Union Jack in Kiev. Reviewing at the time, wiwiblogger William wrote:

The song may have a songwriter with the last name “De Forest”, but that doesn’t make it a good song. Nor does it give it shape or swell or a memorable (or even identifiable) melody. I understand stripped back. But this lacks so much – texture, drive, direction — that Lucie is virtually naked. She may never give up on this song, but I already have.

However, over the coming months many of us began to slowly eat our words.

After an emotional national final performance, Lucie cruised to victory, proving that she had the pipes to transform the song into something memorable and impactful. She was a rare gem who sounded better live than in the studio.

A revamp added subtle electro elements, helping pull the song into 2017 while dusting off the excessive musical theatre feel. Lucie’s tweaked instrumentation created an atmosphere that many began to connect with, while still keeping Lucie’s flawless vocals at the centre of the song.

Then came Lucie’s first rehearsal inside the International Exhibition Centre. Singing in front of a set of mirrors that helped produce a stunning starscape across the whole stage, Lucie blew Eurofans away with the beauty of the staging. The UK began to climb the odds table, even reaching as high as 5th favourite to win three days before the grand final. Hype began to build that Lucie could provide the UK with its first top 10 finish since 2009, with many who had criticised the song earlier in the year now placing it among their favourites (or even their top pick).

Although the UK managed to come top 10 with the jury, Lucie ended up 15th overall. Many people now claim “Never Give Up On You” was one of the most wronged entries of the year; a remarkable feat considering how many people wrote the song off completely upon first listen.

Lucie joins a storied list of Eurovision acts whose fortunes vastly improved from the time they revealed their song to the time they performed it live at Eurovision. Previous winners include Belgium’s Laura Tesoro (2016), Georgia’s Nina Sublatti (2015), Ukraine’s Mariya Yaremchuk (2014) and San Marino’s Valentina Monetta (2013).

Most Improved 2017: Full Results

  1. United Kingdom’s Lucie Jones – 1,805 votes, 32.63%
  2. Moldova’s SunStroke Project – 1,167 votes, 21.1%
  3. Belgium’s Blanche – 1,076 votes, 19.45%
  4. Georgia’s Tamara Gachechiladze – 933 votes, 16.87%
  5. Czech Republic’s Martina Bárta – 551 votes, 9.96%

Vision Music Awards 2017: The Nominees

This award is just one of a dozen awards we have launched as part of the Vision Music Awards 2017 (VMAs).

Our 13 categories — from best dressed to most wronged at ESC — identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.

You can watch the nominations video below, or you can also read more about the awards here.

Vote in more of our Eurovision Polls

Photo: Andres Putting (EBU/Eurovision.tv)

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Ambrose
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Ambrose

I just hope that people that like this song, don’t say Croatia was cheesy. If you think Croatia was cheesy, but you like ‘Never give up on you’…..think again.

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

Yeah, totally agree. However I would swap Czech’s song with Croatia. I placed UK around fifteen and then I’ve marked for myself that it may come up there and it totally did – my most precised prediction of mid-results to date. Nothing to complain about staging, it did fit revamped version, adding some atmosphere of suspense. Then, while she was really accurate in selections, in Final watching her expressions was too much, gifs are there. Vocally she was flawless. And one major mistake as for me was to add pyrotechnics in this dramatic song. Hell why?! I couldn’t even see… Read more »

AngieP
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AngieP

Personally, I’m between Moldova and U.K. I expected Sunstroke Project to do well, but not so well.

On the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of Lucie’s song, and before the rehearsals I doubted a good place in the scoreboard. However, the performance was outstanding! Simple yet beautiful! Seriously!

So I guess it’s the most improved song.

Joriace777
Guest
Joriace777

Moldova’s song played during Europe Basket Cup big final match in Istanbul.

Fatima
Guest
Fatima

These days at Eurovision it’s not enough to improve on the night, you have to have something special to begin with.

Daggu
Guest
Daggu

It was deserved. Even though, Moldova was really unexpected, they weren’t ranked low ever. Lucie is the opposite. Since the very beginning, I will never give up on you was judged as a really decent song, to the point that it wouldn’t qualify to the final in eurovision, if it was in semi. After that, we heard the song live, and britain chose it. It was better then before. After that, came the revamp, improving the song, and making it more Eurovision friendly. And then the staging, was just mindblowing. When I saw it with my girlfriend, we decided to… Read more »

Charli Cheer Up
Guest
Charli Cheer Up

I was really blown away by the modern concept of the staging. The idea of Lucie as a starship soaring through outer space looking for someone was a take on the song’s message of never losing hope. Hopefully the BBC can build on this experience for next year’s entry. I pray that they don’t pull another Electro Velvet or That Sounds Good To Me after another successful comeback.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Tea. It went from being in my bottom 5 to reaching top ten in my final list.

Stan
Guest
Stan

but what are those facial expressions about….

Charli Cheer Up
Guest
Charli Cheer Up

What about them? she had those on the NF performance and ppl loved the way she expressed the emotion so she kept it for the grand final version 🙂

Sandra
Guest
Sandra

I haven’t seen the nf – but are you telling me people actually liked her expressions? Don’t get me wrong – she had one of the best vocals if not the best vocals, but she looked like someone farted on the stage, it was very distracting. Hilarious, but distracting.

Azaad
Guest
Azaad

She is a musical theatre actress rather than a singer. So that’s likely why.

Nickc
Guest
Nickc

I actually prefer the dark, minimalistic staging in the national final….

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

Huge improvement. The first version of her song was bad. But she turned it into magic. LOVE!

ts
Guest
ts

Well done Lucie, a well deserved victory:)