On the night we choose our next cannon fodder to finish 22nd, a brief reminder that with our travails in Europe (as in life), the UK weren't always so bad. Here's a brief look at our best Eurovision entries (with Lulu - obviously - banned).
10. A Message To Your Heart – Samantha Janus
As a performance, this is obviously terrible, but I have a soft spot for the song. Lyrically it attempts to solve the world’s ills…poverty, inequality, the environment, in three minutes (choice lyrics: Every day is a compromise….for a grain of corn”). Great Belinda Carlisle-lite ‘breakdown” middle eight bit, very literal choreography and she tries, poor lass. Performed at the Rome contest in 1991 which was (my sources tell me) – in true Italian style – completely shambolic, disorganised and massively overran its schedule. There by the grace of God you go, Samantha.
9. Come Back – Jessica Garlick
Yes…..half-decent songs. Come back please! Our most recent song in the top 3 ( a mere 17 years ago) which proves how generally terrible we’ve been since. Although obviously hampered by the Eurovision curse of being performed second on the night (FROM WHICH NO ACT HAS EVER WON!) Also, this was the last time we’ve come close to sniffing the trophy. As a song. it’s a pretty decent slowie which ex-Pop Idol Garlick belts out with aplomb. Girl can sing. And there’s more Union Jack flag waving during this performance than last night of the Proms.
Costume vibe: slutty Pocahontas after being mauled by a pack of dogs
8. Love Shine A Light – Katrina and the Waves
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Riding on a wave of post New Labour election goodwill, this is a decent – if slightly predictable – call to arms for love to conquer all. Katrina’s pointed collar pantsuit and highlights are painfully “mid 90’s newsreader perched on the edge of a desk” circa. Natasha Kaplinksy.
7. Puppet On a String – Sandie Shaw
They just keep on coming. Sandie has been our only cool winner, let’s face it. Despite her apparently hating the song, the ‘rinky-dink’ nursery rhyme style of the song set the blueprint for a good couple of years. Note iconic “microphone not working” start to the performance, a la McCartney at Live Aid.
6. Knock Knock, Who’s There – Mary Hopkin
This sits firmly in twee, folky, New Seekers territory, and is really quite charming if you can get past the odd “dressed as an old Spanish lady in mourning” garb they dressed poor Mary in. There’s a nice double look to the camera one for ‘knock knock’ and to camera two for 'who’s there’. So she answers her own question really. Who’s there? Duh, it’s the second cameraman, Mary.
5. Lonely Symphony – Frances Ruffelle
We were kind of alright in the 90’s. Frances Ruffelle, doyen of musical theatre, slinks her way through this boring-verse-but-quite-good-chorus tune which did respectful business as a top ten finisher. Not sure about the crown of thorns headdress and velvet get up though . This isn’t The Wicker Man, Frances. The backing singers make up for her static performance by laughingly overplaying their hand throughout.
4. Congratulations – Cliff Richard
At number 4….Sir Cliff. Strange, as I thought he usually went straight in at number 2?
I mean WHAT. AN. INTRO though. It’s the “Seven Nation Army” of Eurovision intros…you know exactly what it is in seconds.
3. Ooh Ah…Just a Little Bit – Gina G
Despite some “tuning problems”, Gina really gives it her all, cleverly distracting us from any vocal shortcomings with a dress that is so short it’s practically inverted. Cynics amongst you may say that this is a little too obviously pre-programmed to be a winner, and maybe suffered on the night as a result. But it’s a total full on bop, still given a run out at discos up and down the land, and the last Eurovision song to be a proper chart botherer. Eurovision factoid: 1996 was the last year that each song had to be nominally “performed” by an orchestra. Although where the orchestra actually kicks in on this is another matter. Also, love her endearing “hiya it’s me” waves to the audience at the start of the performance. And it's all about lady oral sex apparently. Who knew?
2. One Step Further – Bardo
When you won the competition the year before with some saucy skirt antics and are trying to build on your success, where would you hold the competition to show of your exciting, dynamic nation to the rest of the continent? Yes, Harrogate! This song highlights the problems of having to perform with an orchestra back in the day. The recorded version is electro-clashy 1982-tastic. The Eurovision performance is a bit crappy in all its Ronnie Hazlehurst limitations. Still, we get an amazing choreographed routine that starts like it’s a gymnastics floor routine, and ends with a bit of Legs & Co thigh.
1.WhereAre You – Imanni
Funny to think we almost became Ireland in the 90’s with a double win (…oh…to be Ireland now…?). Imanni takes the top spot with a genuinely decent mid tempo bop, pipped by Dana International’s “All Kinds of Everything”. A full year before she stacked it which – let’s face it- is the best Eurovision moment ever.