Eurovision: You Decide 2019 - Do The Rice Thing

The fourth year of the BBC’s Eurovision: You Decide sees a slight change in the format. This time, there are three songs and two different versions of each song performed by six different artists in total. Three ‘duels’ will see half of the songs eliminated before they get to face the public vote. They are as follows;

Duel 1: Michael Rice vs. Holly Tandy - “Bigger Than Us”

Duel 2: Jordan Clarke vs. MAID - “Freaks”

Duel 3: Kerrie-Anne vs. Anisa - “Sweet Lies”

In terms of this competition, Holly Tandy, MAID and Anisa may as well not even turn up. Sure, as performers they will gain experience and exposure which might help them further their careers. But their versions of the songs are not up to scratch and are pretty much universally considered to be vastly inferior to the other three.

X Factor’s Holly Tandy has a country version which doesn’t work as well as Michael Rice’s power ballad and sounds a bit like a dodgy remix you’d find on Spotify. Michael is also a BBC talent show winner, having triumphed in last year’s entertaining All Together Now show on BBC1. Does this mean he has producer favour as the chosen one?

‘Freaks’ strikes me as being a modern and fun song, likely to be performed well by the cheeky Jordan Clarke, if rehearsal footage is anything to go by. The MAID version, however, is beyond dreadful and sounds like something you’d hear performed in an assembly at stage school.

Much hysteria surrounded Kerrie-Anne’s ‘Sweet Lies’ when it was initially revealed, simply because it is an uptempo song. As the only song of its type in the selection, it stands out and will almost certainly get the nod over the sleep-inducing ballad by Anisa.

As usual, all of the songs in the songs in the UK national final represent varying degrees of hopelessness. The BBC’s aversion to taking a risk or displeasing network executives has resulted in another totally uninspired selection. There is nothing here which is likely to score anything beyond the UK’s usual twelve-or-so points from diaspora on the televote. The best choice for a respectable Lucie Jones-style result is therefore the one song here likely to well with the juries.

Step forward Michael Rice. His song is by far the most jury-friendly of the six, and he showed us last year on All Together Now that he is an excellent and impressive live performer. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of fans who have got behind Michael and his song as their favourite.

Jordan’s song would be my second choice. Again, it’s nothing ground-breaking, but at least it’s modern and he looks to be very likeable and charismatic. He has received some market support following a strong rehearsal clip. Jordan would perhaps fit the bill as a surprise winner tomorrow night, as has happened each of the last three years. It would likely finish in the 20s in Tel Aviv though.

The one song I really fear might be selected is Kerrie-Anne’s ‘Sweet Lies’. This incredibly dated dance song feels underwritten as it just repeats itself over and over and outstays its welcome very quickly. It is pretty soulless and empty, but Kerrie-Anne might benefit from some kind of vote split between the two guys. Some people are also desperate for the UK to send something uptempo regardless of its quality. It reminds me perhaps of M People from the 1990s, or something that would’ve failed to make the cut on Sugababes’ final ‘Sweet 7’ album. In terms of pop-dance songs, isn’t even as good as Saara Aalto’s Monsters which finished 25th in the final for Finland last year.

The BBC audience has form in favouring middle-of-the-road, Middle England-friendly contestants across different talent shows such as The Voice UK and Strictly Come Dancing. Michael Rice most fits the bill in that respect and may well also benefit from a North East regional vote. There is no jury voting in the final round but based on what the viewers have picked in the last three years, you would probably expect them to go for him in the end, which makes him a worthy favourite for me before the live performances.

Michael is the act I would be least embarrassed to send to Eurovision, and the only one here with the potential to achieve a result in the 11-19 range. John Lundvik from Melodifestivalen co-wrote the song and it almost feels like he has single-handedly saved the UK selection. Tack, John! 

Now it’s just up to the viewers to do the right thing, which to be fair they have done in each of the last three years.