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How to win Eurovision

An excellent evening courtesy of the Royal Television Society – thanks to them for organizing and running the event – on ‘How to Win Eurovision’. The event was held at the iconic 100 Club. The ‘green room’ is pure rock’n’roll, with scrawlings on the wall from hundreds of aspirant bands. Most of them never made it, but it must have been a character-defining adventure trying.

I was on a panel with the BBC’s witty Paddy O’Connell and SuRie, who sang for us in 2018. Our (excellent) chair was podcaster Steve Holden. The main theme to emerge from the discussions was the importance of authenticity – a subject dear to the heart of the bands who had written all over our dressing room wall. Eurovision has been moving in this direction for a while, with five out of the last six winners coming from artists who wrote, or co-wrote, their own material. SuRie was very polite about it, but I sense she felt held back by having to sing someone else’s song back in 2018 – though she loved the whole business of being in the contest, with all its history, and in representing the UK. The BBC was behind the trend on this one. Never mind, we are up with it now. There was a genuine sense, on the panel and in the audience, that the UK had turned a corner in the contest, and was now taking it seriously. Sam Ryder’s record label really got behind him – and look at the results! Maybe one day, ‘Eurovision: you decide’ will be followed with the enthusiasm with which we follow other talent contests and the Swedes follow Melodifestivalen. (For the moment, we agreed, best leave it to people like TaP Music, who did such a good job with Sam.)

After that, SuRie sat down at the piano and played three songs for us. Her version of Cornelia Jakobs’ ‘Hold Me Closer’ was spine-tinglingly good. She is a real class act, with much more to her than her appearance on Eurovision let her demonstrate – such a shame, as the contest is supposed to do the opposite, and give people a stage to blossom on.

To round the evening off, we were serenaded by the delightful Abalicious, who reminded us what superb songwriters and performers the 1974 winners were. How do you win Eurovision? Ultimately the answer is ‘write something bloody good, and perform it superbly’.


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