United Kingdom - Paul Gumagay

Eurovision You Decide 2017: This Time It’s On!

I want to take this opportunity to withdraw myself from any responsibility of being unbiased, contextually-informed, and/or truly expert on my commentary on the entries of the British national selection because 1.) I am not British, 2.) I am not European, and 3.) My only fortes are Eurovision and media theory. Having said that…

The Eurovision 2017 song selection season is already in full swing, and the UK is pulling out all the stops to secure a commendable result in the upcoming battle royale in May. But, with the implications of their intention to leave the European Union and their lackluster performance in the past decade—it’s been 10 years since love shone a light in the corner of European hearts, IYKWIM—that all-too-noble goal might be too ambitious to even think of attempting to do.

But we certainly can’t say the UK delegation didn’t try; this year, 6 valiant entries of great power, passion, and slickness will be doing battle on the Hammersmith Apollo in the hopes that their lackluster performances on the X-Factor will be salvaged by a much more veritable musical competition.

For this, I have used my patent-pending super-subjective algorithm (by algorithm I mean Excel spreadsheet) wherein I have judged the entries on the strength of their lyrics (Writing), the musicality and distinctness of their Production, the durability of their Voice, and, of-course, their individual X-Factor—that is, what I perceive to be their effect on the audience when they perform on stage.

Each criteria is given a score of 1-10 in increments of 0.25. Then, they are added up (Sum). Then, they are Averaged. Then, I also calculated them according to a set of percentages—35% for Writing, 25% each for Production and Voice, and 20% for their X-Factor—making up what I call a Jury Score. THEN, this Jury Score is added to the Sum and Averaged (That’s (JS+S)/2 if you’re keeping track). THEN, this is added again to the Sum Average. (So that’s (((JS+S)/2)+SA)/2).) And FINALLY, this is averaged with the (JS+S)/2.

Literally the dumbest collection of formulas I’ve ever made.

To make things harder for myself, I’ve added up that final score with their X-Factor performance (rated from 1-5 in order of their placing in their individual runs in the show) in a 90%:10% ratio because of course it only matters a little bit.

I’ll show you each entry, then I’ll tell what I think of that entry, and then I’ll show you their scores as well as their X-Factor rating. Then in the end, I’ll show you my ranking with and without the X-Factor placing included.

So, let’s start!

  1. Olivia Garcia - Freedom Hearts

    Honestly, and I don’t mean to dishearten the writers of this song, but they could have just looked up words in a rhyming dictionary and they would have had roughly the same result. The lyrics seem like they were forced into the song, making it sound really insincere. The music offers no respite as well, creating a constrained melody that only barely gives excitement at short durations in certain points of the chorus. This is disheartening because Garcia clearly is a great talent who, given the opportunity, can command the stage and be able to bring out the goods, which the song has not given her the chance to in here. All in all, it feels like Garcia was allowed to play and undulate on top of an relentless drone of uncertainty only barely punctured by epic-ish percussion.

    Writing - 7.75
    Production - 8.25
    Voice - 8.50
    X-Factor - 8.50

    TXF Run - 3/5 (missed out on live shows)
     

  2. Holly Brewer - I Wish I Loved You More

    The whole song imparts both an irresistibly hopeful warmth brought by the thumping drums (is epic drumming a theme in this year’s competition?) and trilling synths, as well as tinge of regret from the singer looking back at what could have been a more fulfilled relationship with a former lover. Brewer is a Kelly Clarkson-type vocalist that lends to anthemic choruses and vulnerable verses, albeit with little distinction in between. The very radiating warmth that comes off of the song also is on Brewer’s visage, or at least in the press photos that we’ve seen. For all its merits, however, the song feels like an introspective “Heartbeat Song,” or “Children of the Universe” in minor key.

    Writing - 8.75
    Production - 8.50
    Voice - 8.50
    X-Factor - 8.50

    TXF Run - 2/5 (suddenly eliminated from going through to bootcamp)
     

  3. Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You

    This song is the strongest lyrically, with clear statements sung and intonated with certainty. Co-written by Eurovision winner, Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest, the verses convey a lover’s hope to a resolute ending to a problem plaguing their relationship, telling their partner to “hold on,” and “dance through this storm.” The almost purely string and piano arrangement of the song, however, might strike some as simple and touching, but to me it doesn’t do the lyrics, as well as the power of Jones’s voice, any sort of justice, providing only a barebones foundation to the heavy-hearted text. This could also translate to a mediocre performance, as well—these days in Eurovision, I can’t seem to find anything to do with a slow ballad on live television other than singer on piano, singer and pianist, singer with backup dancers, and singer only, all with slooooow camera shots, dim lighting, and minimal audience impact. One can only hope for the best for Jones.

    Writing - 9.00
    Production - 8.00
    Voice - 8.50
    X-Factor - 8.25

    TXF Run - 4/5 (8th place overall)
     

  4. Danyl Johnson - Light Up The World

    Coming into the song, I expected for it to have a Boris Rene, “Put Your Love On Me” vibe, thanks to its global, positive aura beset by electric guitars. But it doesn’t maintain the momentum, instead constraining itself to a tropical house sound with muddy brass and a disappointing drop, all contributing to a cramped-up soundstage, contrary to the openness of the genre. The lyrics offer don’t offer any sort of inspiration as well, feeling cheesy and heartless. If not for Johnson’s charm and appeal, the one that got him so far in his run on the X-Factor, the song would have been a total waste of sound waves.

    Writing - 8.00
    Production - 8.00
    Voice - 8.25
    X-Factor - 8.75

    TXF Run - 5/5 (4th place overall)
     

  5. Salena Mastroianni - I Don't Wanna Fight

    “I Don’t Wanna Fight” makes up for the lack of openness and warmth of Danyl Johnson’s cut-price tropical house, while also simultaneously reeling it back to the realm of contemporary pop music. The “why-oh-why-oh-why” might bring up memories of Netherlands 2015 for people up in the north of England, but other than that, the lyrics are cleverly written and very catchy. It brings to mind the songs of Little Mix, Fifth Harmony (R.I.P.), and other modern-time girl groups—songs like “Right on Me,” which Fifth Harmony made with Norwegian tropical house producer Kygo, sounds like a probable basis. Overall, a strong track sung well, albeit questionable lyrically.

    Writing - 8.25
    Production - 9.25
    Voice - 8.50
    X-Factor - 8.50

    TXF Run - 1/5 (didn’t get through audition rounds)
     

  6. Nate Simpson - What Are We Made Of

    I literally don’t know what to think about this song. It sort of sounds like something that Nathan Sykes or Sam Smith would sing but decide not to because it’s too...light-headed. It’s sort of floating in the air with now clear resolution or even real point. And not in the way like some people think Bjork’s songs have no point, but in the way that it does have a point, but where is it? Lyrically, it doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and the piano instrumental, while dreamy, doesn’t seem to help. Nate’s voice glides through the song like a breeze, but it is tinged with the same kind of uncertainty that also makes that breeze uncomfortable and annoying. Again, I can’t seem to point out what I should like or hate in this song.

    Writing - 8.25
    Production - 8.25
    Voice - 8.00
    X-Factor - 8.00

    TXF Run - 3/5 (didn’t get through to live shows)

Calculated and ranked, my predictions for Saturday night, both considering and not considering TXF run have produced the same results, so here are MY PREDICTIONS!

  1. Salena Mastroianni - I Don’t Wanna Fight

  2. Holly Brewer - I Wish I Loved You More

  3. Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You

  4. Danyl Johnson - Light Up The World

  5. Olivia Garcia - Freedom Hearts

  6. Nate Simpson - What Are We Made Of

So, those are my UK predictions for their entry in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. What do you think?

Watch what happens as the United Kingdom choose their entry on the 27th of January!