Bonnie Tyler was a good choice, but when will we learn that you just can’t second-guess Eurovision?

Just when you think you’ve grasped what Eurovision is about, it veers off-script and picks a German ballad by a girl in a black dress as the winner

Share

If you were going into battle and needed a rallying war cry, you could do worse than ask Bonnie Tyler.

No one can bellow, rasp, boom and give off SPARKS like Tyler. Hers is a voice hewn in the Welsh valleys, a gravelly foghorn of longing and intent, filtered through Port Talbot smog, Elnett and dry ice. 

And we are going into battle. Eurovision is here again and Tyler has been chosen to represent the UK in Sweden in May. Will she win? Or at least hoist us out of 25th place, where we ended up last year, thanks to Engelbert Humperdinck, and where we have ended up a remarkable three times in the 10 years since 2003 – when we came 26th?

For the second year running, the BBC has adopted a papal-conclave approach, rejecting an audience vote to present the UK entry to the public in a puff of smoke and a swish of suede fringing. The reasoning is clear: Tyler has big hair, a big voice and is big in Europe.

The song, “Believe in Me”, is easily grasped, consisting largely of those three words, predictable chords and all-encompassing arm gestures – it’s the ballad equivalent of Esperanto. Nevertheless, fans are braced for failure. The fact is – Daniel Day-Lewis may beg to differ – that no cultural prize is harder won than the Eurovision crown. Just when you think you’ve grasped what it is about – Eurotrance on ice skates, Finnish heavy metal Orcs, global politics – it veers off-script and picks a German ballad by a girl in a black dress as the winner. You can’t second-guess Eurovision. It makes as much sense as one of Lady Gaga’s costumes.

UK fortunes have not been helped by a recent policy of never entering anyone who reflects its current musical scene. Nor by its affecting to hold the whole silly, spangled thing at ironic arm’s length while secretly quite wanting to win. If we didn’t want to win, we’d surely just send in the clowns – or Scooch – every year and have fun. Instead, we secretly calculate what might get votes and always end up one step behind. Eurovision doesn’t do reason and it doesn’t do irony. It might love Tyler’s sincere belting – but then I said the same about The Hump last year.

* Is Sebastian Faulks becoming the Rory Bremner of the bookshelf? The author is writing a new Jeeves and Wooster story, the first new adventure of the gentleman and his butler to be published since PG Wodehouse's death in 1975. The homage, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, will be published in November and is approved by the Wodehouse estate who asked Faulks to write it, no doubt aware of his literary chameleon credentials.

The author has already slipped on Ian Fleming's bow tie to write a new James Bond novel, Devil May Care in 2008. Before that he spent a decade as a team captain on Radio 4's The Write Stuff, churning out erudite and often very funny literary parodies. So he is doubtless the right man for the job, but that doesn't explain why he would want to take it on. With a successful career as novelist and an established voice of his own, attempting to embellish the beloved Wodehouse canon is a brave move.

What's more, Faulks is an ardent fan, having declared a scene from The Mating Season, in which Bertie impersonates Gussie Fink-Nottle, to be his favourite "in the whole canon of English literature". So there is the danger that he might be too reverent in his homage, when what characterises Wodehouse's writing is its utter irreverence.

On a similar note, next weekend, a new version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes will screen on BBC1, made by television director Diarmuid Lawrence. Like Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, the remake of the 1938 classic will try to imitate the work of a master, a bold, some may say foolhardy, endeavour. Especially when one only has to rifle through one's shelf to find the originals waiting there, ready to be enjoyed over and over again.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there