Five reasons why the United Kingdom failed at Eurovision 2015

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 result scoreboard

British viewers had high hopes that Electro Velvet would be able to achieve a decent Eurovision Song Contest result this weekend in Vienna, but alas it wasn’t to be as the United Kingdom failed at Eurovision yet again, finishing 24th with just five points. In truth, hopes were based on good will for Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholls who had been hand picked to sing ‘Still In Love With You’ by an internal selection panel responsible for the United Kingdom’s Eurovision Song Contest entry. Electro Velvet’s song had proved popular with Eurovision fans and they worked tirelessly to support their entry in Vienna.

Electro Velvet Eurovision Song Contest 2015 United Kingdom Rehearsal

Image: Elena Volatova

It quickly became clear that compared to other delegations, the BBC effort lacked cohesion, understanding and leadership. Whilst entries such as the eventual winner from Sweden had been tried, tested, perfected and locked down through the course of a six week selection show, Electro Velvet had their first run through of the staging five days before performing for international juries, with preparation like that, it’s no wonder that the United Kingdom failed at Eurovision once again this year.

Once again, the juries and European public failed to connect with what the United Kingdom presented as a representation of our world leading music industry. But that exactly went wrong? Here are five reasons that the United Kingdom bombed at Eurovision once again.

1. The Eurovision staging for the United Kingdom entry was weak and out-dated

Electro Velvet’s stage prop was a pair of symmetrical stair cases used to walk down at the start of the song and for backing dancers to backflip from during the performance.

We used the same trick back in 2009 when Jade Ewan walked down a staircase (getting accidentally elbowed by a violinist in the process. At least we had Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber at a piano waiting for her at the end of her descent and he pulled in some votes.

Electro Velvet were dressed in illuminating outfits similar to those worn by Austria in 2012 when they came last in the Eurovision semi final. The staging was slammed by commentators around Europe as well as fans in the UK who liked Electro Velvet and their song Still In Love With You. Read about the problems with the initial Eurovision stage rehearsals here.

 2. The United Kingdom Eurovision act was unpolished and chaotic

The problem that the United Kingdom has as a prequalified Eurovision finalist is that the team only get two technical rehearsals and three dress rehearsals before the final. Semi finalists get six dress rehearsals and a live televised performance. It means that we’re less prepared and stage fright becomes a problem. It happened to France as well, Lisa Angell missed her queue and never recovered. She finished with 4 points, one less than the United Kingdom.

As mentioned above, it does not bode well for competitive success to have the least stage time of any act in the show. But as the Swedish song was performed four times in live competitive national selection shows, and ten times to full arena crowds in full dress rehearals at Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest semi final, any weaknesses in the camera angles were weeded out and additional performance-enhancing features could be added if and when needed. Electro Velvet never had the opportunity to perform two consecutive run-throughs of ‘Still in Love With You’ without changes to routine, costume, camera angles or sound. You can see six versions of Mans Zelmerlow’s live performances here:

3. Europe resents don’t get Graham Norton’s Eurovision jibes

Graham Norton Eurovision RudeYou don’t get three minutes to win points on the Eurovision stage, that’s just the maximum length that the songs can be. You also get time before and after the performance where the commentators in each country get to give information. That’s where Graham Norton and formerly Terry Wogan will often poke fun and make jokes about many of the entries. It is clear that many other countries hold grudges about this and down the UK entries in response.

Terry Wogan’s comments about former Danish presenters as “Dr Death and the Tooth Fairy” and Graham Norton’s “And now for some bad news, next up is Albania” have both caused diplomatic incidents with Ambassadors being summoned to explain their comments.

Whilst the BBC need a popular mainstream commentator to draw in a decent UK audience share, the flip side is negative comments about other countries’ acts means that we’re being seen negatively as a nation and it does play a part in why we’re not getting the result we might otherwise get for the United Kingdom entry.

 4. Bad luck didn’t help Electro Velvet at Eurovision Song Contest

There’s no doubt that singing fifth in the running order cost the United Kingdom. The Eurovision result is made up of 50% televote and 50% jury vote. Although Italy won the televote convincingly, they were the last country to sing before the televoting window opened. It’s more than likely that half the people that voted for Italy weren’t watching when Sweden performed over an hour earlier.

The running order is selected by the Eurovision host broadcaster but each country gets to draw whether they’re in the first or second half of the show. Bianca Nicholls drew for the United Kingdom and it was a first half draw.

5. The team responsible for the United Kingdom Eurovision Song Contest entry is just not good enough

At the end of the day, the Eurovision Song Contest is a competition where people vote for the best song on the night. To be the best song, you need a memorable performance by a strong vocalist and staging that keeps it in voters’ minds when the voting window opens. The United Kingdom simply didn’t deliver.

Electro Velvet were competing against acts like winner Mans Zelmerlow, second Place Polina Gagarina and third place Il Volo – all of whom regularly perform on -television and to large sell-out areas and stadia. Prior to Eurovision, their largest live performance was being the warm-up act at the Eurovision 60th event at the Hammersmith Apollo.

The United Kingdom is in danger of losing it’s crown as the home of music production to Sweden and Eurovision is going the same way. Sweden sends one of its biggest current stars every year, as do many countries. BBC has repeatedly taken fallen stars (Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler most recently) or unsigned acts (Molly last year, Electro Velvet this year). That’s coupled with either out-dated or untested plans for how to stage the entry.

There is a multitude of current talent in the United Kingdom that could deliver a good result and an equal amount of expertise in how to stage it. If the BBC have any chance of delivering a solid Eurovision performance and give the United Kingdom a chance of winning or even a decent Eurovision result in future, they need to create a team with that experience and enter Eurovision competitively. That’s what Australia did on their debut this year and they won a highly impressive fifth place.

This year, it seems we were doomed from before the song was chosen. As Mans Zelmerlow soars into the top 10 of the UK charts and passes 6 million YouTube views of his winning performance (more than a million a day), the BBC need to understand why they only won 5 points, 360 less than Sweden.


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