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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

 

i Editor's Letter: Still all to play for at our live iDebate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering