Morrissey invited to pitch for Eurovision

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The Independent Culture

As a professional miserablist, Morrissey, singer of songs of death and angst, would hardly seem at home among the shiny, happy, pop people of the Eurovision Song Contest - but after the competition was won last year by a Finnish heavy rock band, anything is possible.

The BBC yesterday confirmed that the former singer with The Smiths was one "of a number of artists" who had been invited to take part in this year's contest to select the British entry.

The move follows reported comments from the singer after the UK entry, "Teenage Life" by Daz Sampson, came fifth from bottom last year. Morrissey was quoted as saying: "I was horrified but surprised to see the UK fail again. And there's one question I keep asking myself. Why didn't they ask me? That question keeps going round my head."

Morrissey also showed his interest in the competition by including a pastiche of Eurovision contests from the 1970s in the video for his single "You Have Killed Me".

But it appears the BBC Eurovision production team may have mistaken irony for enthusiasm. A spokeswoman for Sanctuary, Morrissey's record company, said that while they have not had a definitive "no" from the singer, the idea appeared to be, "a non-starter". She added: "He has certainly had an invitation, but we think it is unlikely he will be taking this forward."

The BBC refused to shed further light, saying that matters were at an "early discussion stage" and stressing that Morrissey was only one of several artists and record companies who had been approached.

After decades in which the competition was dominated by bland, middle-of-the-road Europop, last year's landslide victory for rockers Lordi may have emboldened the BBC to seek more unconventional artists, although the corporation refused to disclose any other names.

Those hoping to represent Britain at this year's contest in Helsinki will have to submit themselves to a public vote during a one-off show on the BBC.

Britain last won the Eurovision contest in 1997 with "Love Shine A Light" by Katrina and the Waves. But recent British competitors have had mixed fortunes. Javine came second in 2005 with "Touch My Fire" but the duo Jemini registered "nul points" in 2003 for their effort, "Cry Baby".

Morrissey's many faces

Indie Singer

Rose to prominence in the 1980s as vocalist with The Smiths and as a solo artist

Gay Icon

Songs like "This Charming Man" and "Handsome Devil" have been interpreted as homoerotic. But he said in an early 1990s Rolling Stone: "I'm gay? Well, that's news to me."

Animal Liberationist

Twelve months ago, he declared that he accepted the motives behind the terrorist tactics of the Animal Rights Militia. Two months later, he declared he would boycott Canada on his world tour in protest at the country's seal hunt.

Man of the Musical

The show, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, took its name from a Smiths tune.

Hispanic Hero

After Morrissey moved to LA, Latinos there claimed his music as their own, prompting the growth of Morrissey-themed club nights and a Mexican-fronted Smiths tribute act.

The Roman

After moving to Rome, he claimed a "calling" drew him to the city and that it was a muse for his ninth solo album, Ringleader of the Tormentors.

The cool face of Eurovision

SANDIE SHAW Sandra Goodrich, better known as Sandie Shaw, performed "Puppet on a String" in Eurovision 1967, becoming the first UK winner. One Top 20 hit, "Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now" inspired The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" 15 years later.

LULU Marie Lawrie - or Lulu - was joint winner of 1969's Eurovision with the song "Boom Bang-a-Bang". Six years earlier, at the age of 15, she shot to fame for her version of "Shout!", but it was "Boom Bang-a-Bang" that proved her biggest solo hit, reaching number two in the charts.

ABBA Winning Eurovision for Sweden in 1974 with "Waterloo" launched Abba into the mainstream and they became one of the most successful bands of their time with hits like "Dancing Queen".

CÉLINE DION She represented Switzerland in 1988, winning with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi". She performed "My Heart Must Go On" on the 1997 film Titanic, and in 2004 had accumulated sales of 175 million.