New decade, new approach: Could this be the year the UK wins Eurovision?
Posted on 6 Mar 2020

So, the news has come through that James Newman will represent the UK at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with My Last Breath, a mid-tempo offering with a very catchy chorus.

This year, the BBC, which is in charge of deciding how we choose our song, dispensed with a national final. After a run of bad results (including an undeserved last place for Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us last year), the Beeb decided it was time to start a new chapter in our once-glorious Eurovision history.  So out went the You Decide selection programme, and in came record label BMG, which was tasked with finding a singer and song that could take us back to the days when anything less than a top-10 finish was seen as a failure.

James Newman is a Brit Award-winning and Grammy-nominated songwriter who has penned tunes for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and Calvin Harris, as well as for his own brother, John Newman. James also co-composed his Eurovision entry, with a team whose songwriting credits include hits for the likes of Little Mix, Olly Murs and One Direction. One of James’ collaborators on My Last Breath, Iain James, also co-wrote Azerbaijan’s Eurovision winner in 2011. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

The fact that James has co-written the song he is singing is important. SuRie, who flew the flag for the UK in 2018 with Storm, is a gifted composer and brilliant performer, but the lacklustre song didn’t really suit her. It was a wasted opportunity for someone so talented. Contrast this with last year’s Eurovision winner, The Netherlands’ Duncan Lawrence, and his self-composed entry, Arcade. It was obvious Duncan believed in his song, and that magical alchemy of great singer, great song and great performance all came together to produce a winner.  

Every time the UK announces its song, the conversation turns to whether we can ever win the contest again. Sadly phrases like “We could send Adele and we’d never win”, “It’s just political” and “Europe hates us” light up social media. Stop it. Stop it now. Of course we can win again. We just need a good enough song. Over the past decade, countries like Austria, Portugal and Israel have won, and it wasn’t because of political voting, but because they had amazing songs.

Will the UK win this year? Well, the song is good, but there’s already stiff competition from the likes of Germany (with the cool pop track, Violent Thing) and Lithuania, who, with On Fire, have given us a slice of quirky synth pop. And more than half of the 41 competing nations have yet to declare their entries!

Good luck to James Newman, and here’s hoping that we start the new decade proving the nay-sayers wrong when we hear those elusive words, “United Kingdom - 12 points!”


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