Spotlight on…the United Kingdom

I feel a bit sorry for the UK. For the entirety of the Olympic fortnight, all eyes were firmly on the capital. Then suddenly, there was the Spice Girls and One Direction and a bunch of fireworks, and it was all over – bye bye London 2012, hello Rio 2016.  

As such, I feel a civic duty to help out in any way I can, so I thought I’d give the UK some one-on-one time. You know, so they don’t feel so lonely in the aftermath of the (second) Greatest Show on Earth.

I hope you enjoy this little look back at the ESC history of a Big Sixer!




1957 – 7th place with All by Patricia Bredin




5 – 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981, 1997

Silver medals

15 – 1959-61, 1964-65, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1988-89, 1992-93, 1998

Bronze medals

3 – 1973, 1980, 2002

Top 10 finishes


Top 10 success rate


Top 5 finishes


Top 5 success rate


Wooden spoons (last places!)

3/55 – 2003, 2008, 2010

Semi final qualifications


Qualification success rate



(Apologies for the lack of a more recent recap.)



My favourite entry

Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (1989). You’ll probably have seen this listed as my second-favourite entry of all time, as well as on countless other occasions because I love it so much and have a strange compulsion to refer to it whenever possible. WDIAGIW (say that three times fast!) is a classic 80s power ballad with lyrics that go where none ever had before by lamenting a broken heart. Did I say none? Sorry, I meant gajillions. Anyway, I think most of us would agree the UK should have beaten Yugoslavia in Lausanne, but as it happened, yet another second placing – their twelfth – was all they could muster. Not that that’s anything to bitch behind someone’s back about.

My least favourite entry

No Dream Impossible by Lindsay Dracass (2001). I have few words but lots of letters for this one – W, T and F, for example. I think someone at the BBC must have come to the conclusion that just because a badly-dressed woman with a dated dance song had failed at Eurovision the previous year, it didn’t mean repeating the formula would end badly. News flash: it DID. For my ears and eyes at the very least.

I must also mention That Sounds Good To Me by Josh Dubovie (2010). Now, I have nothing against J.Dub (he seems like a top bloke. Plus, we are Twitter buddies) but this song is beyond belief. I bet even Jemini are embarrassed that it now shares page space with them in the history of last-placed entries.

More of the memorable

Sing Little Birdie by Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson (1959) – whistling in a song these days can rocket you to #1 all over the world. Just ask Maroon 5 or Flo Rida.

Puppet On A String by Sandie Shaw (1967) – another classic that kicked the contest into high gear.  

Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz (1981) – the manufacturers of Velcro are probably Bucks Fizz’ biggest fans.

Just A Little Bit by Gina G (1996) – I knew this one long before I knew what Eurovision was, which is the mark of serious success.

Cry Baby by Jemini (2003) – if something hadn’t gone terribly wrong for these guys, nobody would remember them. See! Every out-of-tune cloud has a silver lining.

Their best stage show

Teenage Life by Daz Sampson (2006). Yes, it was cheesy, and yes, the fact that the middle-aged, tracksuit-clad Daz was getting down with girls in school uniform was rather unsettling – but if you’re going to have a theme, you may as well run with it. My favourite part has to be the flag blizzard, which makes me wish I’d hidden a stack of them in my school desk when I had the chance, and thrown them up in the air at random moments. No one would have questioned that, would they?

Their best costume/s

Sonia (1993). I can’t go past a structured shoulder, especially when there’s two of them and they’re attached to a bright purple catsuit. I might have to hunt one down for my upcoming graduation…

Their best vocalist/s

Lulu (1969)/Jade Ewen (2009). Lulu’s one of those people who can make a live rendition of a song sound better than the studio version. As for Jade, well, she’s one of those people who can casually share the stage with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, get beaten up by a violinist AND nail her vocal, all at the same time.

I love the UK in the ESC because…

Let’s face it, things just wouldn’t be the same without Royaume-Uni complaining that they came last or next-to-last yet again for whatever reason (Europe hates them, it’s a race thing, etc etc). That’s only in recent years, of course. They had an enviable record of success up until the 2000s, and they still tie with France, Luxembourg and Sweden for the second-greatest amount of wins. Speaking of ‘second’, nobody else has mastered the art of being runner-up quite like the UK, who as mentioned above have been beaten into the top spot 15 times. If only they could manage that nowadays! Still, no matter how badly they do, year after year and without just cause (nothing to do with dodgy song choices or anything) they always come back, and I don’t reckon we’re in danger of seeing a contest without them any time soon. They may mock Eurovision, but they couldn’t stand to not be a part of it – kind of like a teenager who winds up at a kids’ party where the guests are playing Musical Chairs. You know you want in, UK. We all do.


What are your thoughts on the UK in Eurovision?  


10 Responses to “Spotlight on…the United Kingdom”

  1. Anthony

    Every year, both the British media AND the public moan when the UK does badly, and say the same old “Lets pull out of Eurovision, We’ll never win, Its too political, They all vote for their neighbours” rant. Don’t they all ever get bored saying the same old thing over and over and over again? It’s certainly boring me rigid and I’m already fed up of it. If all the other countries that finished near the bottom of the scoreboard had the same negative and childish attitude as the United Kingdom, then there wouldnt be any countries left in the contest.

    There’s only one reason the UK aren’t winning the contest recently, and that’s because our songs aren’t good enough, or other countries songs were better. This country and its media has got to stop making pathetic, baseless excuses like “it’s all political” and realise that if the British public won’t even buy or listen to their own entry, why should Europe vote for it?

    And because of all that, it’s clearly why I’ve already switched Eurovision allegiance to Slovenia six years ago. Permanently.


    • Jaz

      I am behind you all the way – although I do think the UK have gotten bored with the political angle. They’ve gone with race more recently. There was a horrendous article from the Daily Mail online recently which claimed, among other things, that Jade Ewen “bombed” (I had no idea making the top 5 was considered bombing) because of her ethnicity. The whole thing was terribly researched and clearly another attempted distraction from the fact that the majority of the UK’s recent entries have sucked!
      I think Blue had a great song last year – I’d even go as far to say a winner – but the performance was cringe-worthy, and the 11th place was deserved. And yet, the British media still wondered why they hadn’t won, or at least done better. People probably should have been grateful that Blue didn’t suffer the fate of Jemini. That’s what can happen when the live show doesn’t go to plan…
      I’m from Australia, but I have always supported the UK in Eurovision, it being ‘the mother country’ and all that. I will continue to hope they do well (even if I know they won’t) and that they can do a Germany in the near future…but maybe Slovenia is the way to go!
      PS – You really should put your comment in a letter and post it to someone in charge of the UK’s participation.


  2. Annika

    Well, the UK in eurovision..I’m not particularly a fan, but I do like some of their entries. My personal favorite is 1997 (even though I didn’t think it was the best that year) it makes me think of Christmas xD I also like 1969, 1996, 1981…but recently..(well, not so recently actually) I’ve been somewhat disinterested in their entries, idk I’d love them to try something different, like a song in Welsh for example.


    • Jaz

      Ahaha, I totally see what you mean about LSAL being Christmassy! I’ve alwyas thought that about Take Me To Your Heaven. It must be the bells.
      Something different would be great, because what they’ve done recently has not been good (apart from 2011 IMO). I want them to do a Germany sooooo bad! Just bring a cracking song performed by somebody who grabs attention somehow and just win (or at least make the top 10)!! It can’t be that hard!!


  3. nprovenghi271

    I feel like, especially as an American, the UK is one of the easiest countries to become a fan of, mainly because of their history as a colonizer, so they seem like an ally to a ton of countries around the world, including mine. That being said, they have a very spotty record as of late. However, at least their failures have been varied. Unlike Denmark, which has sent cutesy little pop-rock numbers for the past five years, the UK has tried everything from silly schoolyard rap and fiery urban beats to outdated pop and camp ridiculousness. As for Jemini, they were such a train wreck that I don’t think anyone could anticipate the level of failure they would achieve (or sink to). In that respect, they achieved probably as much attention as the top five. By the way, you have a very nice favorite, even though the lead singer looks like he just got off of a plane from where I live (all he’s missing is a cowboy hat). In all seriousness, though, “Why do I Always Get it Wrong?” was certainly robbed of a deserved gold medal by that charming Yugoslav drivel. Considering you called yourself a 90’s boyband fan, I have to ask, what did you think of Blue in 2011?


    • Jaz

      Haha, they try all kinds of things and fail at all of them!! For the most part. There’s always something not quite right with their recent entries, even if the song is good (a la 2011). This year the song was nice, but BORING. And drawing the opening slot didn’t help matters. Being well-known just isn’t enough. I don’t think Zeljko would have placed 3rd if he’d come out and popped bubble wrap for three minutes, or something.

      “Charming Yugoslav drivel”…how apt! Do you hate to love it or love to hate it?? I mean, I love it as a song but I know it didn’t deserve to win.

      What did I think of Blue in 2011? How long have you got?? 😀 When they were announced as the act I almost peed my pants with excitement (shh, don’t tell anyone) because I was naturally a huge fan of them when they had their heyday. So was my mum (she had a crush on Simon) so she was kind of excited too even though she’s not a Eurovisionite. When the song debuted, I was seriously excited because finally the UK had the perfect combination of artist and song (or so I thought). I still see ‘I Can’ as one of the best songs of last year, and it would have been a deserving winner had the performance gone well. As it stands, it was all wrong. Bad outifts, bad lighting, bad props and some dodgy vocals. 11th place and 100 points was the most they could have hoped for after that!


      • nprovenghi271

        Totally. Englebert proved that. Charlotte Nilsson/Perelli proved that. Heck, even Chiara proved that (only in 2009, though). I liked “Love Will Set You Free,” but it was killed by the draw. And, one key fact, is that Denmark has mainly succeeded with their teeny-bopper stuff. That might be a bit important… Anyway, I think now, since I’m more acquainted with the contest, my new favorite country, the one I will try and champion every year, is Iceland. I’ve loved most of their songs and they’ve been robbed of victory twice in the past five years (2008 and 2011). Their only mishap for me would have to me sending “Never Forget” in place of “Hjartað Brennur.”

        The way I look at it (or listen to it), “Rock Me” is like “The Social Network Song” this year. It was cheesy, silly and sort of ridiculous, and as such, it had many fans and detractors. For me, I just love the sheer wackiness of a 37 year old (who looks maybe 20) singing a song about Facebook and cyber sex. I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but I don’t care. I still love it.

        I haven’t got a ton of time, but I have enough to read and respond. On the day of the contest, I thought I’d be looking on my computer after my cousin’s college graduation and be seeing either the United Kingdom, Italy or Sweden as winners. It was definitely a winning song, but the performance was utterly poor. Also, imagine my shock after seeing Azerbaijan win. I liked it, but never pegged it as a winner.


        • Jaz

          Hjartað Brennur is such a nice song! My favourite of Songvakeppni was Stattu Upp, so I would have been happy with either of those. I did like Never Forget, but I think it was much better in Icelandic. So was Coming Home. It’s unfortunate that Iceland is one of those countries who always end up switching to an Englush rewrite.

          So was San Marino a guilty pleasure for you this year, or just a plain old pleasure?? I had mixed feelings about it leading up to Baku, but I did really enjoy the performance. And then I was embarrassed that I had enjoyed the performance…I guess there wasn’t much tack this year, so to have something that was so cheesy and ridic was kind of enjoyable. It would have been hilarious if that’d qualified!

          Someone needs to run counseling sessions for those of us still not over Azerbaijan winning last year. I never saw it coming either. For me Running Scared was their weakest entry at that point. And at this point.


      • nprovenghi271

        Stattu Upp was my number two! It was like someone took Blue’s format and a pinch of Jedward’s energy and threw them on stage with air guitars! And it’s a total shame that Iceland switches the languages. I even learned how to sing “Aftur Heim” before it became “Coming Home.”

        I don’t know. I’d have to say a guilty pleasure, mainly because I had tired of the more ridiculous stuff by the time it got to the stage, like Georgia and Montenegro, the former of which would’ve been my guilty pleasure. After the live, it just became crap. Actually, in all my predicting brilliance, I thought that San Marino would be silly and camp enough to make it through to Saturday/Sunday! I would’ve LOVED that.

        I can cope with the victory, but I think that it had to do with a lot of luck, like the equality of the song quality and Turkey’s absence. What do you think their strongest entry was? Personally, I think that it was “Drip Drop” from 2010. If it would’ve competed in 2011, Safura would’ve stormed to victory, in my opinion. Then it would be 2012, 2009, 2011 and I think that, just because it was so crazy and weird, 2008 would be lowest (but it’s still not too bad).


        • Jaz

          I can’t see another entry being in Icelandic anytime soon, unless they join JESC. I think the rule there is that the entries have to be 80% native tongue (at least). That’s what’s making me most excited about Azerbaijan debuting. We finally get to hear an entry in Azeri!!

          I wonder if Valentina thought she was in with a proper chance of qualifying?? Surely it was a Josh Dubovie sitch. He told the media he thought he could win, but SURELY he knew where he was headed.

          I’m with you on ‘Drip Drop’. Still loving it today. But as for the rest, I’d say 2009, 2012, 2008 (so over the top. I LOVE it) aaaaannnd then 2011.



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