Eurovision 2014: Molly Smitten-Downes interview – UK entry 'in to win' despite her past stage fright

Jess Denham speaks to Britain's Eurovision entry ahead of tonight's final

This evening, Molly Smitten-Downes will battle to bring home the UK's first Eurovision win since Katrina and the Waves in1997.

The 27-year-old knows how much hope is resting on her performance and insists she is "going in there to win".

But the rising star from Leicestershire has not always been comfortable in front of a crowd.

"Confidence is not my strong point if I'm honest," she says.

"I used to suffer massively with stage fright. I'm a more confident performer now than I've ever been but I'm not naturally confident."

It is Molly's faith in her self-penned song, "Children of the Universe" that has helped her battle her inner-doubts.

 

"Criticism feels s**t when you're not sure of something yourself but if you can go, 'you can think that but I'm really happy with it', then it's fine," she says.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a gig that thousands of aspiring singer-songwriters would jump at, but Molly had such strong reservations, she almost said no.

On receiving the BBC's call to ask her compete, she was preparing a "polite thank you, but no thank you" when she realised that turning down the chance would be foolish.

"I was worried I'd have to compromise my artistic integrity but as it turned out there were no limitations," she says.

"The worst thing you can do as an artist is to try and please other people as then you never really please anyone."

Perhaps naively, Molly firmly believes that "all other stigmas can be dissolved if the music is good enough" and that she will help restore the UK's Eurovision reputation.

Her favourite acts are "genuine artists" ABBA, Lulu and The Shadows.

"Past Eurovisions don't bother me," she says. "I just think we haven’t been entering the right acts - our songs have been solid but safe."

"I think Europeans feel it's arrogant of us to send in someone who has enjoyed mainstream success, as if that's going to score us instant points."

"Children of the Universe" is at least a bit different, it's not a ballad for starters. Molly knows that history (and the expected Ukraine sympathy vote) are against her but she has dared to entertain the idea of winning.

"I'll be chuffed if I'm in the top half of the board but I don't want to jinx myself," she says.

"I just hope that the best song wins, the one that everyone connects with most. But come Sunday, I'll probably be shouting about it all being political!"

Read more: Trivia quiz – how much do you know about Eurovision?
The Eurovision song contest in numbers
UK singer Molly Smitten-Downes at 9/1 to win ahead of final
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