The United Kingdom has had a … rocky? … relationship with Eurovision the last two decades, mostly sending entries that probably wouldn’t have qualified if required to compete in the semifinals. After a short run of internal selections in the early 2010s, they’ve returned to a public voting process. This year’s “Eurovision: You Decide” television special has resulted in the selection of X Factor alumna Lucie Jones and her song, “Never Give Up On You.”
My first thought, never having heard of Jones, was to wonder whether she had theater experience. Sure enough, after she was booted from X Factor early in the 2009 season (the same one that spawned personal Eurovision favorite Jedward), she played Cosette in Les Miz, Molly in Ghost the Musical, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and Maureen Johnson in Rent. That is a ridiculous / amazing lineup, and explains my instant affinity for her voice quality. In case that wasn’t enough, this song was written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest, with whom I share a birthday. And so I’m in the strange position of liking — nay, loving — an entry from the United Kingdom.
I do have some desires in terms of improvements for this entry. The staging needs drama; light beams are a good start but it doesn’t build in the way I want. The same is true for the orchestration. Right now everything — with the exception of Jones’ voice — is just a little too sparse. With three months left to the contest, that’s a great problem to have.