Eurovision Song Contest 2019: BBC reveals this year's hopefuls

Six contestants will battle it out to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel this May.

The hopefuls, mostly drawn from the ranks of TV reality shows, were unveiled on BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday.

They include Michael Rice, who won BBC singing competition All Together Now last year, and 2017 X Factor competitor Holly Tandy.

Unusually, the six contestants share three songs – each putting their own spin on one of the potential entries.

The public will choose who goes through to the final in a live TV show, Eurovision: You Decide, on Friday, 8 February.

Last year, the UK fared particularly badly – with singer SuRie finishing 24th out of 26.

Her performance was interrupted by a stage invader, who grabbed her microphone and shouted slogans about the media.

The contest was eventually won by Israeli singer Netta with her quirky song Toy, which encouraged people to celebrate their differences.

Here’s a guide to the UK’s hopefuls for Tel Aviv in 2019.

Bigger Than Us sung by Holly Tandy and Michael Rice

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Who are they? Holly Tandy, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, took part in The X Factor in 2017 when she was just 16. Nicole Scherzinger praised her “big voice”, but she struggled in the live shows, eventually finishing seventh. She has a nice hat.

Hartlepool busker Michael Rice won All Together Now – that’s the singing contest with 100 judges (and Geri Halliwell) – in 2018. He was working on his debut single when the opportunity to enter Eurovision came along.

Is the song any good? Kind of. It’s a cliche-ridden love ballad whose verses owe a sizeable melodic debt to Bonnie Raitt’s infinitely superior I Can’t Make You Love Me.

How do the two versions differ? Michael has made it into a piano ballad that showcases his soulful vocals. It goes a bit haywire at the end with an OTT gospel choir and an unnecessary key change.

Holly’s version is more up-tempo with a pleasant acoustic guitar and that weird “ghost cat” noise that’s been on every pop single since Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean. For good measure, she’s thrown in a handclap-assisted breakdown for the final chorus, which could play well in front of an audience.

Who wrote it? The four writers include Eurovision veterans Laurell Barker and Jonas Thander – who also played saxophone on Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

Key lyric: I can feel the Universe when I’m feeling you breathe.”

The verdict: Cinq points.

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Freaks by Jordan Clarke and Maid

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Who are they? Jordan Clarke competed in series seven of Britain’s Got Talent as part of the band Luminites, reaching the semi-final; and later played with short-lived pop band Chasing Midnight. He’s been making music solo since they split.

Maid are a newly-formed girl group consisting of the ornately-named Miracle Chance, Kat Kleve and Blythe Jandoo. They met at drama school and have stage credits including Starlight Express, The Wizard of Oz and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Blythe will also appear in Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of Aladdin later this year.

What about the song? Freaks picks up on the pop trend of celebrating people’s differences – with the twist that the lyrics are totally bananas. “I don’t see the difference between me, you, your, tu or moi, vous,” it observes, obliterating all the grammar lessons we were taught in French class.

How do the two versions differ? Jordan gives Freaks a pop twist with sprightly piano chords and a chugging beat that recalls Take That’s Shine. Your mum will like it.

Maid describe their version as “ethereal and dark” – and they deliver some impressive harmonies. But the arrangement is too intricate for a Eurovision audience who prefer their songs to come with clucking chickens.

Who wrote it? This one has a good pedigree: Rick Parkhouse and George Tizzard have written and produced songs for Take That, Cheryl, James Arthur, 5 Seconds of Summer and (this is not a joke) Green Day.

Key lyric: It’s a toss-up between “I’ve been locked in a locker, I was picked last at soccer” and “We could all be disciples, and we’ll write our own bibles“.

The verdict: Deux points

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Sweet Lies by Kerrie-Anne and Anisa

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Who are they? Former teacher Kerrie-Anne Phillips took part in The X Factor in 2015. She was mentored by Simon Cowell, but was eliminated at the judges’ houses stage.

Anisa Moghaddam was named by the BBC Asian Network as one of its Future Sounds in 2016. She’s since supported Ne-Yo, Brandy and James Arthur in concert and recorded a track, Music, with Wretch 32.

What about the song? Sweet Lies finds Anisa and Kerrie-Anne papering over the cracks of a crumbling relationship.

How have they interpreted it? Kerrie-Anne takes the heartbreak and turns it into a Gloria Gaynor-style dance anthem full of house piano and bass drops.

Anisa goes in the opposite direction, delivering a stripped-back ballad that clearly draws inspiration from Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill.

Who wrote it? Among the song’s three writers is Lise Cabble, whose song Only Teardrops helped Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest win Eurovision 2013.

Key lyric: Our love is paper thin/I need you skin to skin.

The verdict: Dix points.

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