The United Kingdom hasn’t has the best of luck at Eurovision in recent years, finishing near the very bottom of the scoreboard four of the past five years. But now it appears that the BBC have a plan to turn that around. The UK broadcaster today announced a partnership with music company BMG to select the British act for Eurovision 2020.
The BBC’s has now confirmed the end of Eurovision: You Decide. The national final format was brought back in 2016 and has been used to select the last four UK Eurovision acts — with disappointing results.
But all that could be about to change. The BBC has confirmed that it will select its act for Eurovision 2020 in partnership with the music company BMG.
The UK broadcaster says it approached a number of record labels but it was BMG’s proposal that impressed the BBC the most. The BBC says that BMG shared the vision of “selecting a song with broad international appeal and securing an artist who embodies the spirit and values of the Eurovision Song Contest.”
But details are scant of just what this partnership will involve. The announcement only says that “BBC Studios will be working alongside BMG’s UK music publishing and frontline recordings team based in London to select the United Kingdom’s Eurovision 2020 entry.”
The act will be internally selected, rather than using a national final again. When an act will be announced remains unclear. The past three UK internal selection – Electro Velvet, Molly Smitten-Downes and Bonnie Tyler – were all made in March, which if repeated means UK fans are in for a wait.
BMG is a music publisher that already has winning Eurovision connections. It was the publisher of Måns Zelmerlöw’s “Heroes” and signed Netta to a publishing deal after her win with “Toy”.
Whatever it planned, it sounds like a big change for the BBC and UK at Eurovision. BBC Studios creative director Kate Phillips said, “This collaboration with BMG, who have access to world class songwriters, is a genuinely exciting prospect. I am certain that together we can find the best song and artist possible for 2020.”
Former Eurovision Music Consultant Greig Watts has recently left his role at the BBC.
The new format, using BMG’s repertoire of established artists, will put a hurdle between Eurovision and the dozens of pub bands, bedroom producers and enthusiastic amateurs who previously submitted entries to the national final.
The news may come as a relief to UK fans who for many years have been frustrated with the UK’s poor results at Eurovision. In the past decade, the best British Eurovision result was in 2011 when boy band Blue placed 11th in the grand final with “I Can”.
But the past decade has also been plagued by six finishes near the bottom of the scoreboard, including two last-place finishes. But Lucie Jones managed a respectable 15th place in 2017 with the power ballad “Never Give Up on You”.
The BBC internally selected their act from 2011 to 2015. But following Electro Velvet’s disappointing “Still in Love with You” in 2015, the UK brought back a national final format from 2016 onwards.
But while Eurovision: You Decide was embraced by fans, it was also criticised. Many felt that the standard of entries wasn’t high enough, while others noted that the winners tended to be artists with a minor reality TV background, regardless of the song quality.
Others feel that Eurovision fans should be given the chance to be involved with selecting the song. The most recent national final winner, Michael Rice, finished last with his uplifting ballad “Bigger Than Us”.
But whatever the BBC’s new format turns out to involve, fans will hope that it will result in an act who can do the UK proud in Rotterdam. And, as fans have also noted, the last time the Netherlands won Eurovision back in 1975, the UK won the following year. Will history repeat?
What do you think of the BBC’s new selection plans? Should they stick with the national final? Or is internal selection the way to get the UK back on top? Tell us your thoughts below.