Eurovision: Your Country Needs You, liveblogged

by Gerard McGarry

We’ve been doing Eurovision in Britain for many years now. But with the advent of reality television, what better way to decide who represents the country this year than to put it to a public vote? And that’s what’s happening on BBC One tonight – six acts will perform for our pleasure. Then we vote for the one we like the most. Simples.

Graham ‘I’m doing Eurovision now Wogan’s retired’ Norton is presenting tonight’s show, and last year’s winner Alexander Rybak is performing. So are the latest version of the Sugababes (which now features our last Eurovision entrant, Miss Jade Ewen).

Also here tonight is the mastermind of this year’s Eurovision entry – Pete Waterman, who’s written the song for Britain. Tonight, as a test of their musical mettle, the potential entrants will sing classic Stock, Aiken and Waterman singles. Brilliant! This should be camp as hell tonight, and full of great tracks. Yes, I was a huge SAW fan back in the day 😉

Karen Harding

Karen introduces herself – she’s from Newcastle and won some talent competition and mutters about some connection to Joe McElderry, as if that was a seal of musical talent. Singing Kylie’s What Do I Have To Do, this is every bit as awkward as I inwardly predicted before she even started (I wish I’d done a fancy writing my prediction down and putting it in an envelope for extra effect). Sorry, but her voice is horrible. Really? Is this the caliber of contestant we’re considering this year? That was amateur hour material.

The ‘star-studded’ judging panel includes Pete Waterman himself. Eurovision ‘veteran’ Jade Ewen, and celebrity chef/former Eurovision dancer/Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli.

Alexis Gerard

Alexis seems like a smoother kind of guy in his intro video, which I missed while trying to figure out how to spell Tonioli. Grrr. He’s a definite step up from the disaster that was Karen. The singing is passable. The staging and choreography are just horrible. There’s a guy with a ponytail gyrating on the stairs – that’s an authentic throwback right there. Alexis describes his performance as “the best moment of my life”. Clearly he’s a virgin. Christ, I’ve had more exciting illnesses than that performance.

Following on from my comments on Karen – I have to say that the judges are utterly pointless. If they’re not going to take this seriously and curse and swear at the rubbish singers, then they’re just padding the show out. Moving on…

Uni5

Uni5, a group from Coventry who have a Steps-style formation. They’re singing a Steps song, surprisingly (even though they said Bananarama in their VT). I’ve never sworn so much at my television, I mean it. This is horrible. And oh my gods, the mousey bloke has a rich, booming voice on his solo bit, then the other guy drags it back into the gutter. This is a moment of great national shame – three acts have performed and not one of them is worth voting for.

Esma

Esma speaks of national pride. I think any national pride we had before this show started has evaporated by now. Singing Donna Summer’s This Time I Know It’s For Real (Waterman likes his song titles looonnnnngggg), Esma is at least good looking and more or less tuneful. It may not be a world-beating performance (that’s OK, we only have to beat the rest of Europe), but it’s definitely the best we’ve heard tonight. The crowd are rapturous, because she has possibly relieved their eardrums. Tonioli calls her a ‘little diva in the making’ and offers to polish her diamond. I thought he was gay?

Josh

Josh from Basildon doesn’t inspire much confidence in his video, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s singing Jason Donovan’s Too Many Broken Hearts. Okay, the positives are that he stays in tune and has a reasonable tone to his voice. The negatives – I’m not getting much passion in the performance, and even four cute girls in leopard print tops can’t save this for me.

Mizz Fitz

Back to Kylie and this time it’s Better The Devil You Know. Sung in a girl band stylee by Miss Fitz – who aren’t the same Miss Fitz from X Factor (unfortunately). Blonde one looks like mutton. The hot brunette one clearly can’t sing – falls out of tune badly at one point. It’s a vibrant enough stage performance, but the vocals fell short throughout. Pete backs this up in his comments. I think they could have picked one person to do a lead vocal instead of trying to share it.

Group Performance

Ah, the age old ABBA medley. Can’t fault it. Except when sung by a bunch of really bad singers. And here they are, acting like this was some kind of big end-of-X-Factor group performance, except it’s a tuneless karaoke mess. Hey, there’s an idea, why not just walk into any bar tonight and drag out some half-paralytic barflies and get them to sing a few Kylie tunes? I can guarantee it’d be better than this half-assed rubbish. And I should know. I watch rubbish TV for a living.

Moving on, the acts chosen are Esma (obviously), Alexis and Josh. Next up – all the acts get to sing the song wot Pete and Mike Stock wrote. The instrumentation is very Better The Devil at the start. Alexis wrecks the song, missing every high note he’s supposed to sing, like a blindfolded darts player. Total disaster. Esma takes a go next, but she’s not much better. In fact, she raises the bar for wrecking the song by actually forgetting the words! OK, so it’s a new song, but she totally interrupts the performance. I’ll bet she just wants to crawl off somewhere and cry. I know I do.

After two unparalleled disasters, Josh performs the only version that’s remotely in tune. He does it with a smug grin on his face, possibly because he knows this. But you wanna know what the truth is? The song That Sounds Good To Me is just bile, utter tripe. It’s Stock and Waterman going through the motions, unconvincingly.

Alexis claims that he wants to represent his country, the patriotic wag. I’m glad it’s patriotism and not because he wants to be famous or something shallow like that. Josh opts for honesty, saying that he ‘wants this more than anybody else’. I forget what Esma said, but at least I’m not alone in forgetting words this evening…

Gerard McGarry is a jet-setting, world-renowned Reality TV critic. In real life, Gerard works with web and social media strategy. His personal blog is at GerardMcGarry.com or follow him on Twitter @gerrybot