Will Eurovision be pointless for UK?

BREAK out the daft costumes, weird dance routines and the chance to cry "nul points" at the TV - it's Eurovision Song Contest time again.

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Engelbert Humperdinck, then aged 76, finished behind  the Irish entrants Jedward in the 2012 contest
Engelbert Humperdinck, then aged 76, finished behind the Irish entrants Jedward in the 2012 contest

Tomorrow sees the 59th contest take place in Copenhagen, with 37 countries lined up to enter.

While the Eurobash is usually treated with a raised eyebrow on UK shores, it remains big business across the Continent and beyond, with viewers as far afield as China and New Zealand settling down to watch this year.

Armenia is the bookies' favourite, but this year the UK is expected to do well, with singer-songwriter Molly Smitten Downe's entry Children Of The Universe tipped to challenge for the title.

That would make a pleasant change, after more than a decade of disasters for the UK, with acts old (Engelbert Humperdinck) new (Daz Sampson) and, er, Blue all having a go and all failing to get anywhere.

Of course, the music is but a small part of the Eurovision experience.

The main enjoyment from any Eurovision party comes from trying to work out what some of the countries were thinking (2012's second placed Russian grannies being a prime example), groaning at the voting that goes on (prepare yourself for points fests between Sweden and Norway, as always) and enjoying the sheer daftness of it all.

Still, Eurovision can still produce some good tunes amongst the mayhem.

The most famous would be Abba's all-conquering Waterloo in 1974. The Swedish foursome had tried out for the competition the previous year, but were rejected.

Twelve months later they came back with a classic in the catchy Waterloo, a terrific on stage performance and a conductor who was dressed up as Napoleon.

It paved the way for pop stardom, and they remain Eurovision's greatest success story.

There have been other famous names who have gone for Euro glory too, though, from Julio Iglesias to Celine Dion and Scotland's Lulu and … Kenneth McKellar.

The idea of a British pop star who was still riding high in the charts trotting out for Eurovision seems unlikely now, but the 1960s and 70s were a different time, and Lulu's Boom Bang-A-Bang ended up winning the contest in 1969, despite being not exactly her finest hour.

Other established British acts went for it with gusto, notably Cliff Richard, who finished second with Congratul­at­ions in 1968 and then third with Power To All Our Friends in 1973.

Sir Cliff certainly took the contest incredibly seriously, to the extent he locked himself in a toilet during the voting in 1968 rather than sit in the green room, as he did not want to have to force a smile if he lost.

The respected likes of The New Seekers and The Shadows also gave the contest a go, but it was Bucks Fizz that seemed to capture the Eurovision spirit best with the peppy pop of Making Your Mind Up in 1981, complete with a dance routine that saw Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston have their skirts whipped off.

It was not exactly the super slick choreography of Beyonce, but there was plenty of charm there, as there was with the UK's last winner, 1997's Love Shine A Light by Katrina & the Waves, a tune that was one of those big, uplifting numbers that always seems to go down well at the contest.

It has been grim pickings for Britain since then, though, and most of the recent enjoyable Eurovision entries have come from further afield.

Finnish rockers Lordi's Hard Rock Hallelujah was a particular stand-out in 2006, and not just for the outlandish monster mash gear the group were wearing and a riff pinched from Alice Cooper's Poison.

It was one of the few times that hard rock has ever crossed over the Eurovision line (Turkish band Manga came second in 2010 with a similar effort), and remains a fine piece of outlandish rock theatre.

The UK has never bothered to explore that route, and as the years have gone by the quality level has completely fallen off a cliff that was never very high to begin with.

There was Jemini's infamous nul points in 2003 with Cry Baby, the torturous camp of Scooch's Flying The Flag, which finished third bottom in 2007, and Daz Sampson blundering around on stage in 2006 like a man who has vaguely heard of the notion of rap, but is not quite sure what it is.

They were a dreadful bunch, and were so desperate to capture what is expected of Eurovision, namely cheesy tunes and OTT stage performances, that they lacked any charm.

Whether Molly's effort this year can buck recent trends remains to be seen, but even if she flops it is unlikely to stop the Eurovision party in its tracks.

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