Thursday, 1 October 2015

We are still going to lose Eurovision

So a couple of days ago, everyone who thinks that the Eurovision contest is important got all excited about headlines like this one that implied that the Great British Public (known connoisseurs of good musical taste) were actually going to have something to do with the selection of the song that will represent us to Europe. Yup, for a brief few seconds we actually thought that we might get to find and pick a blinder of an act (rather than raid the colonies for a ringer) that could go forth to Johnny Foreigner and show them what the British Music scene has to offer (from a selection of acts that don't want to risk the career suicide of 'nil pois').

Only it's not going to help at all, in any way, due to two major reasons. Firstly, the songs entered (of which I assume there will be many containing nothing but expletives) have to go through the OGAE, i.e. the largest collection of people in this country who have sat through every Eurovision ever, including the secret ones where Wogan started demanding whisky and launch codes. These are people who have bought into the chintz of Eurovision to the point of being willing to spend £15.00 a year in the internet age to get a magazine about one of the most heavily promoted and publicised events out there. They are indoctrinated into and educated in the ways of Eurovision, the voting cycles and the tactics, the politics and the power-plays. Fundamentally, these are the people who would tell Lordi to turn it down or be worried that Conchita Wurst would upset the Russians too much, so the chances of an outsider or oddball choice is instantly gone as they focus on what will get "The Win".

So once anything that is either new, exciting, or edgy (i.e. most of the music coming from anything even vaguely not-top-30) is binned, we get the barrier of  "a professional panel and the public". The first bit sounds nice, but then you remember that professional panels were also why Electro Velvet, Scooch, Daz Sampson, Blue and other such aberrations were allowed to ever be thought "a good thing". Plus, because it'll be on the BBC and thus the decision process will be gunning for TV viewer eyes, it means the panel will include "names" like the git-demon Wil.I.Am, who will be going out of their way to make 'bold decisions' to promote their own agenda, rather than thinking "can we win this?" And then "the public" roll in, specifically the aforementioned TV viewing public. The kind of people who watch the X-Factor or The Voice for "the drama", which basically means someone having a good sob story or being attractive in a trying-hard way. Talent, beyond a certain base level, won't be the issue - it'll be about likeability.

So, after several months of being promised that we might actually win this time and that it's really going to be different, we are going to get something that is scientifically selected to win last year's event, that has been vetted by people more interested in their own next album, and then approved by people who fundamentally wanted to watch Eastenders but with a bit more of a tune. And then folks will wonder why we hit the bottom and ask if we can just bring in a ringer again.

Of course it's easy (and fun) to mock, Eurovision is an easy target for awfulness  But there is a way that this could all be fixed and it's an incredibly easy one: actually let the public decide. Have an open list, have anyone be able to enter a song if they want, and then let people vote directly from that list. Have one big show where you announce the winner if you want, and then have the experts work with them to spruce up whatever it is they are going play to the absolute peak of it's potential (you can make a documentary out of it if you want). But make it actually picked by the public, actually representative of the British Public. Because if we lose, it will be on our own terms - but if we win, it will be something we can actually be proud of for more than five minutes.

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