Rylan Clark

Rylan Clark – We can do better

It’s the great bugbear of the British Eurovision fan – why is the BBC team, presented with the vast talents of the UK music industry, seemingly incapable of putting together a viable package to represent our sceptred isle? Between 1957 and 2002 we never once finished lower than 16th in the contest. Between 2003 and 2013, we’ve only crawled higher than that position twice.

Three times in the past ten years we’ve finished dead last, and while internal selections have at least banished the unedifying spectres of “fun for Europe” novelties like Daz Sampson and Scooch, the recent parade of dated songs and pensionable singers have failed to improve our scores. It is, by any standards, a dismal state of affairs.

As we enter the new year, the rumour mill has started to buzz once again – although even the most optimistic fans seem to have all but given up hope. Will it be Geri Halliwell, most recently in the press for releasing a single that missed the top 400 in Australia? Or Rylan Clark, token X Factor joke act turned Celebrity Big Brother host?  The standard joke is that after Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck, the only logical conclusion is to wheel out Dame Vera Lynn.

I actually sympathise with the people tasked with making these decisions. The expectations of hardcore Eurovision fans are often sadly at odds with the reality of the contest’s standing in the UK. If you’re young, trendy and sitting at number one on the singles charts, you have little to gain and potentially much to lose by committing to Eurovision. Even if an artist like Adele, Ellie Goulding or Olly Murs was game for a go, their record companies would almost certainly veto the idea for fear of a disaster (or even a success, such is the contempt with which many industry insiders seem to hold the contest) killing their street cred.

However, there is a middle ground between stadium-packers and Butlins reserves, and I wonder how often the powers that be explore it. With the full understanding that there are potentially many behind-the-scenes complications that have led to the disastrous decision-making of recent years, I humbly present a list of artists who I genuinely think could both be convinced to appear, and would have the potential to do our country proud. Would they all say yes? I have no idea. Probably not. But one of them might, and they’re all better than Bonnie.

Beverley Knight

Beverley Knight

One of the UK’s finest female vocalists, Beverley Knight is such a logical choice for Eurovision that I’m amazed she’s apparently never been considered. At 40, and seven years removed from her last hit single, she’s comfortably entered Radio 2 territory, but is still young and dynamic enough to field a modern song without seeming like a relic from another era. She delivered a stirring performance at the Paralympics, showcasing both her impressive vocal chops and her status as a minor national treasure. Nevertheless, her career could certainly benefit from a bit of a boost, and with her days at commercial radio far behind her, Eurovision could be an attractive proposition for her. She certainly wouldn’t embarrass herself, and even if she failed to meet expectations, she has enough goodwill that I doubt her career would be especially harmed by the experience.

Misha B/Amelia Lily

Amelia Lily & Misha B

These two season eight X Factor finalists both launched to high expectations in 2012, but have subsequently struggled. Amelia is the more high-profile of the two, she had a big hit with You Bring Me Joy – which also saw some chart action in Europe and scored two subsequent top forty singles, while Misha B is a more dynamic live performer who so far hasn’t quite connected with the public. Both had albums all ready to go early last year, but neither have seen the light of day and the window of opportunity seems to be closing. Surely between them, one of them has a viable song?

KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall

Scottish singer-songwriter Tunstall scored a brace of huge radio hits and even cracked America with her 2004 album Eye to the Telescope. She’s released several highly praised albums since, but her profile has faded significantly. She’d be a relatively credible choice for Eurovision, but she certainly knows her way around a catchy tune. The juries would love her.

The Feeling

The Feeling

Another briefly inescapable act whose status has fallen somewhat. The Feeling are excellent pop songsmiths who have always followed their own path rather than chasing credibility. Their love of simple, sincere, well-constructed pop music has inevitably seen them prematurely banished to the Radio 2 hinterlands. Their 2013 album Boy Cried Wolf was widely hailed as their best ever, but passed most listeners by. A Eurovision appearance could give their profile a much-needed boost and remind the public just how good they can be.

Clare Maguire

Clare Maguire

Another talented Scot, Clare Maguire scored a top ten hit with her debut album Light After Dark, but despite strong reviews she’s still waiting for her breakout hit. Given the success of Norway’s Margaret Berger in the 2013 contest, Maguire’s witchy, atmospheric style could really make her stand out from the crowd.

Marina & The Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds

On hits like Prima Donna and Hollywood, Marina Diamandis has made a career out of exploring the conflict between high art and low culture, and what better platform for such ‘but is it art?’ noodlings could there be than Eurovision? She’s a fan too, she’s even tweeted about Sweden’s pre-qualifying contest Melodifestivalen. Plus with her Hellenic roots, she’d be virtually guaranteed a few points from Greece and Cyprus.

So there you have it. Seven not-too-famous-to-be-realistic but far from embarrassing potential UK Eurovision entrants. Admittedly some would probably eat bugs in the Celebrity Jungle before even dreaming of risking Eurovision, but I’d be very surprised if all seven of these acts would dismiss the notion out of hand. So come on BBC, unless you’ve already got an iron-clad contract with Samantha Fox, there’s still time to take the high road.