The Wiwi Jury — our in-house team of music unprofessionals — is reviewing and rating the 39 competing songs in Eurovision 2021. Next we take a look at the UK where James Newman has “Embers”. Did his song have enough to start a fire? Read on to find out!
James Newman – “Embers”
Lucy: Never in my time of being a British eurofan have I heard a home entry so in tune with what is popular in the UK today. James Newman has brought the popular and exciting brand of pop he is known to be a songwriting master of with great success — a fantastic move compared to last year’s “My Last Breath”. This would be right at home on the biggest TV shows over here such as Love Island due to the bold summer vibes. It’s clear the BBC is ready to turn things around by being authentic to the artist. James’ vocals are always on point live, so I’m very excited to see what staging he brings to Rotterdam to go with them. The best Blighty has provided in a good while!
Oliver: James is a great songwriter and he has a brilliant voice. There’s a real joy behind this track that really comes through and there’s no doubt this will become a Eurovision club circuit dancefloor staple. But for all its strengths, the song isn’t a roaring fire. As its name suggests, “Embers” is the dwindling remains of a once-great source of heat. Still burning, but not raising temperatures. The brass section could be punchier, and if anything, the chorus feels a little wordy. By UK standards, this is credible, inoffensive and overall enjoyable. But James needs to deliver an extra blast of fuego to make this song really pop.
Pablo: Welcome to the fun side, UK! “Embers” is exactly what they needed in Eurovision; good quality, clean sounding fun that feels organic to the British music scene. James’ voice fits perfectly with the brass sound, it’s not uptempo for the sake of it, and the earnest energy it transmits feels extremely wholesome. If done right, this can storm up the charts all across Europe and then some, and I am so happy that the UK has cracked the code: shaking off the pretensions and just go out there with a bang!
Diego: Light up the room? Here’s the thing; “Embers” sounds like music to disperse a party crowd with. If your party is getting too hot to handle, play “Embers” to reduce the guest list in half. The song may have potential, but it sounds unfinished. Also, the bridge is basic — with all the burning coal it promises, I expect it to explode, but it does the opposite. It actually cools off! Nonetheless, James Newman’s deep, raspy voice is one that I find to be particularly delightful.
Sebastian: Who would have thought it. The UK have actually injected life into the Eurovision Song Contest. “Embers” is a fired-up, energetic change of pace to James Newman’s last entry, and seems to suit his voice and energy to a tee. Listening to “Embers” gets you ready for summer vibes, which is a feeling seemingly absent in this year’s Eurovision contenders. My only gripe would be a slightly lacklustre, dated sound to the production – perhaps the brass needs to sound less manufactured, and the base turned up. In any event, it’s a solid effort from the UK.
James Newman – “Embers” rankings
In the Wiwi Jury we have 24 jurors but only have room for five reviews. The remaining scores are below:
We have removed the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. This is to remove outliers and potential bias. We have removed a low of 2.5 and a high of 9.
Wiwi Jury verdict: 6.82/10
What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!
I was very surprised by this song! Its that one pop, summer-vibe and chill music we all need. Though in saying that, it is average at best. Best wishes to James and to the UK!
It’s constantly being played on Radio 2 which is the most listened to station in the uk
I already know that the song won’t win. But who cares. It’s a huge improvement on previous entries but that’s not hard considering how bad they have been over the last 2 decades. It will be a good song on the night and i’m sure James will perform it well but amongst the political voting it’s probable that we will be either mid table at best or just avoiding last place. Good luck James!
James is a credible artist….vocally and when it comes to his songwriting. Those who keep asking for the UK to send a credible artist clearly can’t see one when they get one. Just because he personally hasn’t been the main vocalist on a number 1 doesn’t make him any less successful as James’s catalogue of success has seen his work score multiple number 1s across the globe, so James isn’t the issue. The song itsself I really enjoy. I can totally understand just why people might roll their eyes at this because it’s a sound that is incredibly familiar on… Read more »
Just want to say that whenever I hear James sing, it gives me goosebumps. Such a soulful singer, and talent off the frickin scale! Let’s not forget he has written this as well. More than can be said for some of the other over-produced acts in this year’s ESC. Massive respect from me! Come on, James!
F-sharp major! Six sharps; songwriters, what were you on? 😀 Ignoring the plight of the band (who are playing in a ridiculous key), this song is cheerful and is great to jump around to. The “Drop” with the band reminds me of the music for an advertisement, and I think parts of this song could make a fortune using it for that, but I digress. I can’t wait to see James jumping all over the stage for three minutes, and there will be (safe) fireworks, I would imagine. This won’t win of course, but at least the UK is sending… Read more »
He’s super, but there’s not enough (yet) to make me want to pick up the phone. I can think of 10 other countries who are doing something more memorable and original this year, so it won’t get even one point from me as things stand.
Rather than focussing on celebrities to host their coverage, the BBC ought to be looking at entries like those from Italy, Lithuania or Ukraine and think “who can we get to do something like that?”
UNITED KINGDOM – The UK brought a song which is well received by fans, and we should encourage them to do it more often. This feels current, radio-friendly, and nice to dance along to. This is kinda low-key for a big party, but it fits perfectly with more chill parties we are used to these days. It’s a nice song, no doubt about that. However, I don’t feel like it builds-up to anything. It creates a mood, stays in it, and feels cozy for three minutes. The brass drop is the most interesting part in the song. The title feels… Read more »
BANGER UK BANGER WTH HAVE U DONE UK
I mean it’s alright, it’s dancey and and it’s definitely an improvement from most UK entries but also sounds a bit like some generic swedish produced song u hear on the radio that makes u think where did I hear this before and then forget about it
I’m a little late to the party, but here’s what I have to say: As many others, I’m sorry to diagnose “Embers” with an issue that’s been known to characterise recent British entries. It’s pleasant, but never goes beyond ‘pleasant’ – fun while it lasts, forgotten as soon as its over. James’ entry offers nothing for your memory to grab onto. The lyrics are emblematic of this problem, being cheery and quite literally ‘bright’, yet also unremarkable and outwardly impersonal. James Newman is a likeable and congenial performer, gifted with one of the most distinct voices in the contest, and… Read more »
I completely agree. It’s a weak song again from UK. Why can’t we get well – established, successful performers to represent UK?
If we submit mediocre, we can expect a mediocre result (at best). I’m sure most other participating countries now expect UK to perform and score badly.
Time for UK to sort out the selection of artist and song.
It’s a step in the right direction for the UK but it’s not as good as everyone is pretending it to be. I can enjoy it but nothing in it really grabs my attetion. A decent effort by James Newman nonetheless but I doubt it can get the UK in the top 15. 6/10 The UK falls down to my 29th place. 2. Ireland (8.25) 6. Spain (7.5) 7. Finland (7.5) 8. Sweden (7.25) 11. Czech Republic (7.25) 12. Italy (7.25) 14. Ukraine (7) 15. Greece (7) 17. Belgium (6.75) 18. Cyprus (6.75) 19. Norway (6.75) 22. Slovenia (6.25) 23.… Read more »
It’s just as generic as Sweden’s but y’all are celebrating it because the UK doesn’t suck for once :/ But not being awful doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good nor top 10 material as I’ve seen many people say this is actually in their top 10
Actually, if it was Norway and Sweden it would’ve been in the top 15 in betting odds.
It would’ve and that’s my point, just cause Sweden is overrated, should I overrate this as well? It makes no sense, I know Sweden will be in the top 2 with the juries with one of the worst songs this year, but that doesn’t change how this isn’t good either :/
same with san marino
I actually do agree with you, Adrenalina is good, but top 18 at best, and only because I want her to get a better result than Serhat, otherwise I would’ve been ok with a bottom 8 finish in the grand final. It’s grand final material for sure but that’s about it, but because it’s San Marino’s first good song probably since forever, people are putting it at #1 and that’s insane
I cannot understand all the positive vibes for this song. I fully appreciate James as an artist and what a top bloke he is……no issues at all with him. The song is auto-tuned to a ridiculous level. It’s basically a cast off from a Sigala album. In fact the Becky Hill collaboration with Sagala is very similar to this effort. The feeling from certain sections of the Eurovision bubble is having this as a top ten contender. Sorry, but I can’t see that happening. This song hasn’t received one single vote from the online voting yet. Yes, it’s still early… Read more »
It hasnt got any votes from the OGAE polls but it has quite a few top 10 scores on the Euro Jury online poll.
Auto tuned? Have you not heard this man sing live!? Sounds exactly like the studio version
This has been the best UK entry in quite some time. My only critique is that the pre-chrous feels a bit too stretched and actually detracts from the build. His vocal is good. The chorus is really really good. I hope we have a good jury placement and a decent Televote this year . Predict a Lucy Jones kind of placement.
Thinking about how this will fare, should this song set a positive president for future UK entries? Will BMG still be involved if this doesn’t get a great result?
Good question but as usual we will never find out until later this year. I wish WIWIBLOGGS were more into the UK process and perhaps had interviewed the BBC team for their plans. It can;t be difficult for Williams knowing he works for BBC…
This time, nobody will be able to complain that the UK is bringing something that would never chart there. “Embers” still isn’t the game-changer we keep demanding from them, but it’s a solid step in the right direction. Some may say James doesn’t seem the right guy for this kind of song, but I appreciate the contrast brought by his raspy tone. Does he also have the charisma to make it work? The UK has been timid with staging, but it’s time to follow the lyrics and light up the room. 6.5/10
I think John Newman might be a better fit
John would fit it perfectly, that’s true. I just watched James performing in a BBC Show and he’s very likeable. But he also looks a little shy, not as a stage fright symptom, but in a relatable way. So I say the delegation should stage it selling him as the guy next door who has a cool voice. That person that surprises everybody about his skills when they go on a talent show. If they try to give him much choreography, it will be weird. Let the party happen around him.
Everything about this is okay, but not more. The verses build towards something but the chorus falls a bit flat for me, at least in the studio version. Maybe he can elevate live, cuz that chorus needs to be more than just an ember.
I really like it, it’s so fun and makes me want to dance. It’s currently my number 4 but I think it’ll drop lower next time I review the entries.
I hate when Brits say ‘If Sweden sent Embers it would be top 10’… but let’s face the fact here, Sweden would NEVER send a song like Embers to Eurovision, nor would most other countries. One Touch by Kadiatou in Melodifestivalen this year was similar to Embers, however, it was MUCH more polished, and yet it still came last in the semi-final. Armenia had a song called You and I by Asmik Shiroyan in their national selection in 2018 and it’s almost identical to Embers, yet it came 6th out of 10. The problem isn’t politics or European countries hating… Read more »
Funnily enough, I loved Asmiks song, so it’s no surprise that I actually enjoy ‘Embers’! Glad someone else remembers ‘You And I’.
Yea but the Swedish song this year is very average, nothing fresh or modern.
A good voice doesn’t mean much. Remember UK 2017. Excellent performance but song was forgettable.
Why do you disagree? Just curious 🙂
James has an amazing voice but this is a type of song that vocal abilities don’t matter, it’s mostly about the staging for this type of song.
re; UK 2017 we had an amazing artist with the best staging the UK had since forever but the song was not memorable..
I like James so much, he is such a nice and humble guy. He deserves the best!
Embers is a nice contemporary song but i feel that is missing something and i just don’t think it will make people vote for it among other uptempo songs. I hope i am wrong because i want to see UK doing well.
Fingers crossed staging will be awesome!
Embers is really sorely lacking, I cringe when I listen to the opening lyrics and it goes downhill from there. It’s beyond me how a country like the UK which has a huge music industry and has set many trends over the years can come up with such dross. If this had to qualify from a semi final it would fail. I predict bottom 5 fir this.
I’m honestly not trying to be smart allecky in any way but this song is very much in line with music that is seen in the British charts (particularly 2013-2017). I think it should do ok, i’m hoping the staging will be good.
It’s really growing on me, the beat drop gets stuck in my head it’s lightens the mood.
UK needs to keep this up and push it further in the coming years.
Upbeat, not boring like the last few entries.
Wiwi Juries’ current TOP 26 Ireland (7.7) (=) Italy (7.7) Cyprus (7.45) Finland (7.34) Ukraine (7.32) Russia (7.18) Sweden (7.14) Greece (6.82) (=) United Kingdom (6.82) Croatia (6.75) Azerbaijan (6.57) Israel (6.45) Latvia (6.34) Belgium (6.16) (=) Czech Republic (6.16) Serbia (6.09) Albania (5.89) (=) Norway (5.89) Spain (5.34) Germany (5.14) Estonia (5.07) Austria (4.89) Denmark (4.84) (=) Slovenia (4.84) Portugal (4.32) North Macedonia (4.05) My personal TOP 26 Italy (My 2nd) Greece (My 4th) Ukraine (My 7th) Belgium (My 10th) Finland (My 11th) Estonia (My 12th) Russia (My 13th) Serbia (My 14th) United Kingdom (My 15th) Cyprus (My 17th)… Read more »
Italy got the most 10s, so that breaks the tie at the top…says 1991.
For the exact same score by jury ties are broken by preferential voting.
I liked «My last breath». I am indifferent to «Embers», and I will be surprised if it does well. 4/10
The UK is slept on this year big time! How can the bookies put this in the 23-25th range is completely laughable. James will provide one of the biggest staging moments of the year, this will do especially well with the Jury’s and will make some traction with the Televote, is this a winner? No. However, this WILL provide the UK it’s best result since Blue in 2011, it ticks many if not all boxes for jury respect, and that alone will give the UK a very high probability of finishing within the Top 13. People just hate on the… Read more »
As a Brit myself i get really annoyed when i see people saying “oh Europe hates us because of Brexit or any other reason”. Most British Eurovision fans know that we have scored badly because we have sent rubbish songs. We have been at the bottom of the scoreboard long before Brexit came along. Its a few so called celebrities who like to constantly bring up Brexit and the people who only tune in for the Saturday night final and see Britain in the bottom and start the whole “europe hates us” thing off gain.I truly hope James does well,… Read more »
Yes, Europe likes Dua Lipa, Sam Smith, Leona Lewis, the Queen, Emy Winehouse etc.
I was delighted when this was unveiled, and thought it’s much more suitable for the contest than MLB, which I liked but was too tame. I’m hoping it’ll be drawn in the second half of the show, and cones after a slow song. I trust the staging team can make something that will burst out of the screen and make an impression.
James was on the Saturday Mash-up this morning, has anybody seen it? Is he much of a performer?
I saw him in mash up, not bad performance but he seemed to be a bit out of breath in some parts.
Just seen James do an acoustic version of embers in the Adriatic Pre Party and he sang really well
the mashup performance is up on youtube. Costume. He’s wearing my grandad’s shirt. He’s still dad dancing with a few choreogrphed mic leans thrown in for good measure. Vocally 7 out of ten. bit off in places and lacking that much needed thrust where it counts. Worst part was he sang the song with squinty eyes so there was no real connection with the camera / audience for the whole 3 mins. That’s a big vote loser. I’m sure James is a nice guy, but there’s no natural stage presence there. Equally as flat as Michael Rice I’ve bigged up… Read more »
20-25th in final and everyone know that.
Only because everyone hates the uk if that song was Moldovan it would finish top 5 . Perhaps we should do blind songs and see where the uk finish then .
Smh, Britain haven’t done well because they sent bad songs, it’s not politically related at all.
No one hates UK. We’ve seen countries like Germany and Azerbaijan winning and without a doubt they are not ‘loved’ by the public more than UK.
BBC puts zero effort, there is a campaign to associate the contest with drag queens and the race show, and no serious writers make the effort to take it seriously.
Moldova has flopped many times in ESC.
I love this song so much but the sad thing is I’m not sure many countries are gonna put it into the top 10 for it to get many points. Huge improvement from us and I hope we get an amazing result tho. In my top 12 7.5/10
First contest since Brexit and Europe hates our vaccine success. We’ll be down in our usual spot for sure.
Similarly so many not wanting Israel to qualify either.
The only difference is that Israel’s song is decent, whilst the UK’s song isn’t.
I hate Brexit. I will be voting for the UK.
Is not Europe who hates brits is brits who hates Europe and for what they stand for.Sick and tired of brits using brexit or anything for that matter.grow a pair and send something decent every year .Sending jokes entry is how you will be treated.James Newman has a good decent song so don`t ruin that for him.
We don’t hate Europe, so please don’t try to speak for us in that regard.
I live in UK so please don
t tell me that brits dont hate EUROPE .Insults from politicians and not only speaks volumes.
Im a Brit and i dont hate Europe so you can count me out your “brits hate Europe” speech, thank you very much!!!
Okay 48 % of the brits are not xenophobes.
Your argument is flawed because it’s completely reliant on assumptions and generalisations. Additionally, you’re speaking about us like we’re not part of Europe because of Brexit, which we ARE. I voted for Brexit and I’m proud of it. I love Europe and it doesn’t make me xenophobic in the slightest. I just want a different political relationship with the rest of the continent. But finally, none of that should matter here, because EUROVISION IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT POLITICS. So stop making it political.
Well done Nathan 100% correct
LOL, voted down for saying i DONT hate Europe, thats just hilarious!!!
Do politicians represent the masses? Absolutely not. That’s why we have such poor turnout at our elections. I have a wide circle of friends from all over the uk and due to my work I have many work acquaintances and I don’t know a single Europe hating person. Yes some may be indifferent but none hate
Embers isn’t a decent song… it’s simply not good.
Europe has moved on from brexit, its certain well known commentators in the uk (if your British, you’ll know who I mean) who can’t get over it. Europe has accepted it and respected it, but certain people in the uk have built their entire career around brexit and have nothing left to do but lament about the EU. The vaccine success for uk was about 1 month ahead of ours, we are catching up fast so that’s not an issue either. Basically what I’m trying to say is: send a good song and it will do well. UK have done… Read more »
laughing at vaccine success. What about the highest death rate in Europe? BoJo not giving a damn about the people dying and insisting on not implementing a lockdown on time?? I am sure Europe is jealous of that achievement!
Brexit means nothing. We’ve seen countries that have been in wars voting for each other, in Eurovision everything is possible.
“so many not wanting Israel to qualify either”—> LMAO did you forget which country won in Eurovision 2018?? another myth about Europe hating Israel and not voting for Israel was destroyed.
You’re embarrassing us. Keep the politics out of Eurovision.
It’s one of the most generic and outdated entries this year. If a computer gathered the UK Top 40 list from 2016 and generated them all into one song – it would be Embers. The generic dance track with trumpets has been DONE TO DEATH in the UK from 2014-2017. There’s a reason why this song hasn’t gained any attention with the general UK audience, and that’s simply because it’s not a good song. In comparison, across the pond in Ireland, their song actually did capture the attention of the general Irish audience and landed 3rd on the Irish Homegrown… Read more »
The reason is becasue legally BBC can’t promote the song, not because it’s bad
That’s not true at all. The BBC can promote the song, it has a big PR team, but each channel/station is editorially independent. The controller of BBC One cannot force the controller of Radio 1 to put it on the playlist. If Radio 1 doesn’t like it, it won’t get played and if it won’t get played on Radio 1, don’t expect it to be a hit. Personally, I really like it and I think it has chances of landing mid table later this month – not bottom of the pile – and there is no doubt it is a… Read more »
Interestingly BBC radio 2 hasn’t stopped playing it, and this station has a bigger audience generally than radio 1, so I think it has been reasonably well promoted. I agree it could have been on a few more TV shows such as Graham Norton before his series ended, maybe the one show, but there’s still time for that
It’s a bad song
I’m not sure this song will get the UK out of the bottom 6 unfortunately because it’s not a stand out act at least for the audio track only, but maybe with the performance something will change.
You’re 100% right. The song is outdated and generic, a recipe for failure. I’d be surprised if this song wasn’t near the bottom.
I think you have made your point Eros!! Far better then many entries and the best from the UK in a long time and the majority agree on this, of course not for everyone as I am sure your countries song isn’t peace.
The song is not outdated, stop labelling songs you don’t like as outdated.
It’s a contemporary track but it does not stick to your head to make you want to vote for it. I’d choose a different artist and not James unfortunately.
I actually think that televoters might have UK in the top 15, but I’m unsure about the juries
Perhaps, but I would guess more likely the other way around. A Joe and Jake type result, mind you that was before Brexit!
Joe and Jake was an entry mostly suited for Junior Eurovision. Very amateurish so obvs u shouldn’t expect a better result in a competitive final. Brexit had nothing to do with this.
Yet the Maltese jury gave them 12 points. I suggest you check how many points the UK has received from Malta since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 (the month after contest).
So what if the Maltese jury gave them 12pts? The Maltese jury has been giving Azerbaijan 12pts for like 3 years in a row between 2010-2014, why did you even mention them as an example?? How is it relevant with Brexit?
As if the UK was doing better pre-Brexit…
It seems Malta is no longer such a “friend” of UK; since 2016.
Embers is a really catchy song and (joined by Senhit), James surprised me positively. This is really a song that I could hear anyways. I give is an 8/10
I never thought I’d see the day that the UK wasn’t scraping the barrel for points from the WiwiJury but here we are!! This should be in the top 20 no matter what. Arguably the best inoffensive pop song in the contest and summer 2021 ready. Go James and thank you BBC for not embarrassing us this year!! (8.5/10)
21. UK – James Newman – Embers – 6.5/10 – a toe-tapping bop from James that is so light and happy-go-lucky. It spreads a big, warm, smile across my face. I am not a massive fan of brass in pop songs but here it is used in a gentle, bouncy manner which complements the beat nicely. There is a club bass line lurking in there somewhere which I would like to have been more prominent. But all in all, a pretty good effort.
I think that everyone should tell why gives for example 8,5 and 2,5 etc. Because we actually don’t know if some of them rate lower songs that they know that have the potential to be higher than their favourite ones and that’s worrying me
No matter what some may say, this is NOT a bad song. This time the UK doesn’t deserve to finish at the bottom.
it won’t finish last, there is Spain and Germany to fight for the spot.
Finally the United Kingdom have given us something that isn’t kitsch, dated and corny. They finally have given us something that is very representative of the UK music scene. Just listen to the UK charts on Spotify and Embers would fit in there quite nicely. It’s very Rudimental or Sigala sounding and that works in their favour I think. James is also charismatic and very down to earth, one of the most likeable personalities competing this year. I’m going to say it, this is my favorite UK entry since Molly in 2014. I hope UK does well this year, as… Read more »
There was a relief when this song dropped, that it wasn’t another Scooch, Mr Du Bovie or Electric Velvet. Unfortunately those aren’t the comparisons. UK is up against 25 other songs in the final, many of which are superior to this offering. Nice song easy on the ear but maybe one which few people will pick up the phone for. Will he dance? I’m worried. I’d say highest this could get is 18, more likely 20 to 23.
woah this is higher than i expected. it’s definitely one of the best uk entries we’ve had in a while but to me it’s still kinda average. i hope we do better than we usually do tho this doesn’t deserve bottom 5
32. United Kingdom: “My last breath” last year was in my personal top 10. This just doesn’t do the trick for me. It’s a bit generic imo.
18) United Kingdom –
It’s been a hot minute since I last really wanted us to do well, and I think this entry *could* see us on the left side of the board. The whole thing is so inherently British and it’s pretty current, so I think people will warm to it a lot more than our previous attempts. James is also a really likeable guy and I’m willing him on to give us our best result in a while. 7/10
I hope that “Embers” will be staged and sung nicely and get a decent result. It’s a respectable song, and it doing well might show some Brits that Eurovision isn’t something ridiculous and camp only.
Some people are way too harsh on this. This shaming of commercial pop lately is quite annoying…